I asked Tampa Bay Times readers and fellow gardeners to share their favorite Florida passalong plants — hardy, easy-to-grow veggies, perennials and trees — and the memories that came with them.
Wow. So many great stories! It was like coming home with way more new plants than places to grow them.
Several ran in the Sept. 21 Times — here are a few more. (Sadly, even a blog post can get too long, so I couldn’t share all I received. I enjoyed every email. It was like Christmas!)
Most of these are wonderful plants for your Tampa Bay garden. The photos were supplied by the gardeners, including the great shot, above, of a hummingbird zeroing in on a firespike, by Doreen Damm of New Port Richey.
Here’s her story:
I worked for Kathryn at Hallmark for 11 years and we always ended up talking about gardening. Several years ago her husband took it upon himself to clean up her garden and cut her firespike bushes to the ground.
“I have a great plant for attacting hummingbirds, I can’t believe you don’t have one,” she told me.
She dug up some of the stubs and I planted them in my garden. They became an instant hummingbird favorite.
Kathryn moved out of state a few years ago, but when I pass by the firespikes, now 6 feet tall, I think of her.
When co-workers leave, they always say, “We’ll stay in touch!” but that rarely happens. Thanks to our shared love of gardening, Kathryn and I have actually grown closer!
Bread and roses
Susan Mallett Eckstein did a beautiful job telling her 94-year-old mother’s story of passalong inspiration. Her mom is Frances Mallett of Port Richey.
The carved wooden sign in my front yard reads, “Elijah Paul Duncan Garden.” The story behind that sign tells of a long-ago
friendship, love of plants, and making a home where your flowers grow.
In the mid 1950s, E. P. Duncan, an avid fisherman, pulled off Highway 19 at my husband’s bait and tackle shop, The Outpost, to buy supplies and get the scoop on the local fishing hot spots. E.P. — “Sarge” — had recently driven from California in a homemade truck camper to find a friendly small town where he could afford to live on a retired military pension. New Port Richey fit the bill.
My husband and Sarge soon became friends. He was a frequent guest at family dinners and a fishing buddy for our oldest son.
I had always been a practical gardener, focusing mainly on growing vegetables. It was Sarge whose small trailer was surrounded by beautiful flowers, who encouraged me to grow flowering plants. He shared cuttings, potted plants, and seeds. I was hooked!
Sarge told me that I was always to share plants with others so that they might experience the joy of gardening. Today, I share cuttings from a gorgeous pink plumeria, brilliant blooming bromeliads, mysterious night blooming cereus, shell ginger (pictured.)
The “Elijah Paul Duncan Garden” sign reminds us of family memories, of love for a man, his love of growing things, and the passing along of plants to others so that his legacy continues into the future.
Old eggs don’t stink!
If no one else has it, we love it! Lori Pacheco of Gainesville, Ga., got her “scrambled eggs” from Betty Montgomery of Scotts Hill, Tenn.
Betty has the farm across from my family’s farm — 1 mile away and our closest neighbor. When I went up for a visit a couple years ago, I noticed her unusual yellow daffodils. She told me they were scrambled eggs
“They’re not all that purty,” she said. “But they’re old-fashioned and nobody else has them anymore.”
So, I wanted them!!
(From Penny: I found plenty of references online to this heirloom daffodil also called ”butter and eggs.” Most were gardeners looking for bulbs or talking about their own plants, descended from century-plus-old gardens. Dixie Gardens, a Louisiana daffodil lover, offered “rescue Bread and Butters” from a construction site, but they’re’re sold out. For future reference, Dixie Gardens says the botanical name is Narcissus x incomparabilis var. plenus Butter and Eggs, and recommends them for zones 5-8 and “upper 9 with afternoon shade.”)
When you can’t squeeze in one more plant — or deal with taking care of one more — sometimes one more is just what you need.
This is from Anne-Marie of Palm Harbor:
Tanja Vidovic is a 30-something Tampa gardener obsessed with spreading the love of growing your own edibles. (Find and share freebies on her popular Facebook page.) Easy passalongs are her favorites. Here’s daughter Kalina with one of her favorites.
I love all plants that are shared and gardeners the most giving group of people I’ve ever met! The best grow so easily, they almost ask you to share them with others. They’re also able to be harvested quickly and produce enough to share with all your neighbors.