Tulips in Tampa — and Celery and Asparagus, Too


orange and green tulip blooming in South Tampa February 2012

It’s not often you get a blow-away moment in a garden. (Truth be told — it is for me. Which is why I so love writing about gardens. But before I got to visit all your gardens, I didn’t get blown away too often.)

When I saw Janice Straske’s tulip beds in February, I got goose bumps. Seriously. The drifts of colorful buds that absolutely don’t belong here were jaw-dropping beautiful. I wrote about it in the Tampa Bay Times, and there are more great photos there (most, like the one above, shot by fabulous photographer Caroline Hill).

Janice learned how to get tulip bulbs to bloom from her mother, Celia Ferman, a Tampa native and longtime member of the Rose Circle Garden Club (she, too, grows drifts of Tampa tulips in spring.) If you want to learn how to grow them, click the Times story.

I revisited Janice’s garden during the Earthly Paradise Garden Tour earlier this month. It’s the Rose Circle Garden Club’s annual fundraiser, and I’ve gone the past three years because I love it.

Here’s what Janice’s back fence looked like in February.

pink tulip bud and green buds along fence in south tampa garden february 2012

And just a couple months later,  here’s that same back fence.

variety of tomato plants along a wooden fence in south tampa. tall plants, blooms, no tomatoes

Janice has a variety of tomatoes growing. My friend Janna (in the photo) and I found plum tomatoes, cherries, and grapes, among others. Janice has three kids at home still — one will be heading off to college in the fall — and a husband, but I’m thinking she’ll be buried in an avalanche of tomatoes before long.

Earthly Garden Tour visitors also oohed and aaahed over the veggies we don’t often see growing in Tampa gardens. I can’t count the number of people who’d never seen celery outside the grocery store. (Me included — I was  sniffing the leaves, thinking they were cilantro on steroids.)

mature celery stalks growing in south tampa april

And asparagus! Janice had whacked back her asparagus when I visited in February. Now, she’s got hors oeuvres — albeit for one.

single stalk of asparagus, south tampa, one spear, april

Though she lives in the heart of the city — the Golfview neighborhood — Janice has chickens. The eggs are great and the poop is even more valuable (see plants above!) One just needs to make it work in the ‘hood you’re in. Here’s Janice’s coop.

brown and white tudor home south tampa, old, restored

Oops, no! That’s her house. Here’s her coop — you’ll forgive the error, I hope. Geez, it looks so much like the house!

chicken coop, brown and white, built to mimic home, tudor style

I don’t think I’m ready for challenges like tulips and asparagus, but gardeners like Janice make me believe anything is possible.  



  1. I would LOVE to be able to grow tulips and asparagus in Seminole! There is a lady near Clearwater Beach that grows asparagus and the taste was indescribable! Nothing like you get in the grocery. Does Janice have a blog? Would be nice to know her “secrets” on a continuing basis and see more pictures of her beautiful yard.

  2. Heck yeah, Laura, me, too! (I’d love to be growing tulips and asparagus in Town N Country.) No, Janice doesn’t have a blog. I’ll try to keep up with her though and get some tips. She’s a fabulous gardener.

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