Flowers Through the Year in Our Florida Garden

Most of my formative years were spent in the western United States and I love the spare landscapes there where colorful flowers are treasured and often rare. Imagine my surprise when I found myself in southern Florida sixteen years ago and the even greater surprise of being still here. Since most of my life has been a story of moving fairly frequently, I have learned to appreciate the places I live and find things to enjoy. There is much to enjoy and appreciate in the natural landscape of Florida. And in my yard!

Unlike more temperate areas, the changes in season here are more subtle and it’s fun to track them through the flowers that bloom and disappear in the yard. Some appear very reliably within a certain month and some are more associated with the season.

Taking photos of my flowers has also provided much joy and learning. So it was fun to put together a ‘calendar’ of my photos of flowers from the yard. We live almost equidistant from Ft. Lauderdale and North Miami but inland about 15 miles inland.

January is actually fairly abundant with flowers, being cooler and more dry. I have chosen the Amazon Lily that thrives in the shady areas of the yard and has a beautiful soft fragrance. The flowers actually look like white daffodils, taking me back to more temperate gardens.

Amazon Lily (Eucharis)

February One of my favorite things as the winter progresses is the sight of our large (15 foot or so) frangipani tree putting out flowers before leaves. By April the leaves are on, the flowers are abundant and standing under the tree is a sensual wonder with a peachy and tropical fragrance surrounding you.

Frangipani aka Plumeria

March is quite a nice transition time in the yard with the winter flowers hanging in there and some of spring flowers beginning to show. Sometime between December and April the dendrobium orchids in the back yard flower. Dendrobium anosmum smells richly of raspberry and this similar one, without a smell, is smaller and more delicate but I love the furry aspect.

Dendrobium Orchid

March We don’t have a lot of luck with citrus trees in our small yard but this lemon tree hangs in there. This year it bloomed abundantly and we have several small lemons already.

Lemon Flower

April Right about early spring, the jasmine flowers begin to bloom. This Jasmine sambac Grand Duke of Tuscany with double flowers looks like a miniature rose and smells of heaven! The fragrance is a bit more fruity and sweet than the traditional Jasmine grandiflorum and I love it!

Jasmine sambac Grand Duke of Tuscany

On again, off again, we keep trying with magnolia. Our current Little Gem magnolia is hanging in there. It’s hard to find a good sunny spot in the yard for best blooming but we get a few each year. Mostly, I visit the ones in our neighborhood always looking for bees rolling around in the stamens.

Magnolia flower with honeybees.

I am looking forward to May this year and hoping that our water lily, Blue Dauben, blooms as abundantly as it did last year. It is lightly fragrant and I love watching the flowers close up each night and re-open in the morning.

Nymphaea x Dauben Water Lily

Then there’s this fragrant Encyclia in shades of magenta and purple. It faithfully sends out at least one spike of blooms in April and May and smells like violets.

Encyclia Orchid

June Our Lignum vitae flowers off and on through the summer but I have chosen it for the beginning of summer. Beautiful in shape with pretty little purple flowers and bright orangey red seeds, it’s one of my very favorites. The birds obviously love the seeds because we get seedlings all over the yard!

Lignum vitae flowers

July Our little jatropha tree blooms all year long and we love the bright red flowers. The bees and butterflies do too and it provides a nice source of nectar. It’s a small flower so it was fun trying to capture it with my cell phone macro lens.

Jatropha tree flower

August We are usually looking for some color in the yard by August and enjoyed these pretty Zinnias last year. Another macro photo.

Pink Zinnia macro photo

Also in August, one of the flowers I wait all year for, the Bat Lily! Its beautiful glossy leaves brighten a corner of our front yard in deep shade. Then some time in late summer we get the very cool flowers.

Bat Flower

September is when we seem to get the best blooms on our lovely passion vine. The purple-centered white flowers have rich floral fragrance with a strong hint of clove (eugenol).

Passion Flower

October is when I start looking, and sniffing, for the tiny flowers on our Tea Olive aka Osmanthus. Often, the apricot scent of the flowers is my first clue to begin looking at the scraggly shrubs for blooms. They don’t do particularly well here but as long as I keep them watered and we get cool fall and winter weather every now and then my seven precious shrubs will fill the yard with a rich leathery apricot smell from hundreds of tiny flowers.

Osmanthus/Tea Olive flower closeup

November In the cool of the nearly-winter this Golden Gardenia bloomed freely. The flowers are a creamy white the first day and then transition through light yellow to deep golden over several days. In the early evening the sweet gardenia fragrance scented our front patio.

Golden Gardenia Gardenia tubifera

December During this ‘winter’ month, our Osmanthus continues to bloom and we get a few gardenias (if they have survived in their pots). But I have to remember to check the orchids out back. This unusual purple Neofinetia falcata or Japanese Wind Orchid generally puts out a nice size spike of flowers some time in the winter. I think it likes the cooler weather!

Japanese Wind Orchid

I hope you have enjoyed this ‘tour’ of our yard through the year. I missed a few flowers but hope I have given you an idea of the joy I have gotten from our Florida yard. Thanks for reading!

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