Tag Archives: florida landscape

Autumn on Anna Maria Island

It’s the best time of year again. Finally the summer heat and humidity ends. During September through October there are a few days of thunderstorms that bring downdrafts of cool air relief, but when the first cold front from the north pushes far enough south to bring a cold air mass with it, autumn has signaled its arrival.

By cold I don’t mean frost on the pumpkins or blasts of arctic air. Some times the temperature difference is minimal – going from high 80’s to low 80’s. But the change is noticeable especially because the cooler northern air has less moisture in it. That means lower humidity.

Halloween marks the time to look forward to cold fronts and the zonal climate change from tropical to temperate. Even if the official hurricane season is supposed to last through November, the first cold front brings a sigh of relief that the weather pattern has changed. The summer’s predominant moist air from the southwest reverses to dry air from the northeast. Time to turn off the air-conditioning and open the windows.

The grass has stopped growing as fast but flowers come alive again with renewed vigor:

Suddenly it’s comfortable to stay outdoors longer and start looking at those deferred projects that are too strenuous in summer’s humid heat. Or perhaps linger longer on the patio and deck for lunch without no-see-um bugs. The days are still long enough to find time in the evening to tackle neglected tasks. Then when daylight-losing-time begins, the tasks move one hour forward. Instead of the sunset walk at 7:30 it moves to 6:30 and slowly earlier as the days shorten.

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Beach Berry

Hawaiian Half Flower

Hawaiian Half Flower

Scaevola frutescens, Scaevola taccada, or Naupaka, Hawaiian Beach Berry, Hawaiian half flower grows well in home landscapes and beach access alley ways.

Naupaka with berries

Naupaka with berries

The 1″ white half-round flowers and small fleshy berries come out in spring. It is low to no maintenance, growing to 7 feet high without irrigation in sandy soil.

Scaevola frutescens

Scaevola frutescens

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An Easy Plant for the Anna Maria Island Landscape

I have previously mentioned the native sea grape. Another very interesting and widespread plant on Anna Maria Island is the large crinum lily. Also called the spider lily, this large member of the amaryllis family can grow quickly to at least five feet high. The large white or burgundy ‘milk and wine’ flowers are very delicate and fragrant. When they go to seed and drop to the ground, new plants start easily, and the low-energy gardener can simply watch the garden expand, without doing any work at all. That’s my kind of gardening.

Although some instructions for how to grow crinum lilies indicates that regular watering and fertilizing are necessary, we have had them on our island property for ten years, and have only rarely given them any water or fertilizer. Crinum lilies are considered to have medium salt tolerance. Again, our experience has been better than this on our property, where the lilies are occasionally flooded when the tides are high. They may look bad for awhile, but they quickly recover.

crinum lily When we first moved to the island, there were single crinum lilies here and there on our property. They looked almost too large for a small property, and we almost eliminated them. But then we decided to put them all next to each other, into a clump. The clump has continued to expand over the years, and it’s a very rewarding and beautiful part of our yard.

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