The Bright Lights of Shade!

Readers told me they wanted MORE PICTURES when I wrote about Peter and Betty Peck’s Walmart-inspired garden in the Tampa Bay Times  last month. Peter manages Walmart’s No.1 Florida store in Bloomingdale, Fla.; Betty works for a company that supplies Walmart with books and music. Can you say merchandising? These two have the market cornered when it comes to arranging for visual impact.

birdhouses amid green foliage, crinum lily, green pink cream Stromanthe sanguinea 'Triostar' , march, tampa, florida

The green-cream-red plant in the foreground is Stromanthe sanguinea‘Triostar’, a super plant for adding color to shady situations. The lower growing flowers are impatiens and, on the two trellises, bougainvillea. If you can find at least a half-day of sun in your shady garden, bougainvilleas will reward you with lots of color. (They’re a Peck favorite.)


goose statue next to bench

“Goose,” left, is among the many old statues Peter and Betty inherited from Betty’s parents’ and grandparents’ decades-old gardens in Plant City.

red brick, path, georgia reclaimed










Peter bought the pavers, above right,  from a local stone-supply store and dug up the 120-by-4 feet of paths himself. He paid for the hands-and-knees work — strong work ethic has its limits! … I yearn for the day I can add paths like these.

wooden adirondak chair, confiners. garden art

Peter admits Dumpster-diving (when pressed) for this beautiful old wooden Adirondack chair that someone left in a bin outside his Walmart. Pots of impatiens and other plants create a beautiful vignette beneath a shade tree.

black magic cordylene, hot pink dark green *almost black" leaves, chartreuse, green leavesThe Pecks love cordylines. In the foreground, Black Magic, and behind that, good old red ti.

Peter and Betty Peck not only have loads of color in  a garden shaded by oaks, they have colorful personality. That’s retailer-meets-gardener.


  1. Pumpkin says:

    My daughter just bought a house Friday and it does not have one plant in the yard:) Front and back yard is all shade, so this is great information. The house is one block from me. Happy Easter Janice

    • Congratulations to Jessica! How wonderful! And now you have a whole new canvas and palette to play with, Pumpkin. … I was amazed at how beautiful the Pecks’ red tis were. I may try them in my mom’s dappled spots.

  2. Very pretty garden. Thanks for more pics.

    • You’re welcome Simply Susan! Next, I’ve got to post the unpublished photos from our Tampa tulip grower’s garden. She grows from bulbs!

  3. I loved the cordys as well nice color and no brown tip. They must pay good attention to watering.

    • Good watering? Is that the secret? I envy folks with beautiful cordys because mine never look so good. I haven’t gotten the secret recipe down.

  4. Hi superb blog! Does running a blog such as this require a lot of work?
    I’ve absolutely no knowledge of computer programming however I had been hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyhow, if you have any ideas or tips for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject but I simply needed to ask. Appreciate it!

    • Thank you, Zella! You’ve made my day!
      To answer your questions, no, you don’t have to be a computer whiz to run a blog. Google’s blogspot is a really easy, free way to get up and running. (That’s not what I’m using, but blogspot is so simple to get launched on, and you can create a beautiful background, so I’m a fan.) Keeping it going means posting more regularly than I do. Try to put up something new at least once a week (but not necessarily every day.) Photos are important, so you should be comfortable with a digital camera, take lots of pictures, and know how to upload them. I try not to have too much text — your posts should be quick and easy to read. (Mine sometimes get longer than they should.)
      To get the word out about it, you should visit other blogs relevant to your topic and comment on them, but don’t post comments that say, “Come read my blog!” If your comments are interesting and add something of value, people will be more likely to visit your blog. Getting on Facebook or Twitter (again, not to shamelessly promote your blog but just to be out there) is another good way to market it.
      I hope that helps! Let me know when you launch and I’ll come visit!

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