An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

July 23, 2012

A Plant Geek in South Florida - Victoria Park

While I was on vacation, one of my morning walks took me into a part of old Fort Laurderdale, Victoria Park.  This neighborhood was built on what was originally a live oak (Quercus virginiana) hammock, and this tree is still dominant in the city's canopy.  Hammocks are higher areas where a different set of species grow than in the vast surrounding wetlands.  These were choice areas for settlement in early south Florida before so many of the wetlands were drained and filled, now very little of either eco-systems is evident in the city.  When Henry Flagler was building his railroad down the coast of Florida, he wanted to route the Lauderdale portion through this hammock, but "the mother of Miami", Julia Tuttle, convinced him to take it further westward.

It appears that most of the houses in Victoria Park were built in the early decades of the 20th century.  Many of the homes are attractive, stuccoed, one-story bungalows that have been added to and renovated over the years.  As nice as the homes were, it was the landscaping that impressed this plant geek, and it was not just the species used, but how they were used.  I like lush full gardens, even when they border on being over-planted, and this neighborhood had lush full gardens in spades.

Ginger Hedge

Croton and Plumeria Fence

Warm Cottage

Cottage with Chenille Plant

Purple Shutters

Yellow Cottage


There were several Plumeria around the neighborhood that assumed small tree proportions.


... as do other houseplants.

Croton Palm

Schefflera actinophylla

Schefflera actinophylla

One house had pink pineapples planted near the driveway.

Pink Pineapple

An apartment buildings on the edge of the neighborhood had a Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) growing behind it that easily cleared the four story roof line.

Norfolk Island Pine (2)

As I mentioned in a previous Florida post, my favorite palm, (one that gives me serious zone envy), is the Bismarck palm (Bismarckia nobilis), and I saw many fine examples on my walk.

Bismarck Fence

Bismarck and Hedge


Red White and Two Blues

There were also many fine examples of my new infatuation, the royal poinciana tree or flamboyant tree (Delonix regia).

Poinciana Cottage

Royal Poinciana (2)

Royal Poinciana (3)

Mangoes anyone?

Mango Tree

Not all the landscaping was good. The picture below was taken at a another apartment or condo building, so I feel comfortable saying this was likely a professional installation. Which makes me wonder why they would have left those two small strips of turf. This corner also makes me remember that rock necklaces look better on Wilma Flinestone.

Bad Corner

On my next Florida post we will head south of Miami to a botanical wonder, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.


  1. Thanks for showing these, Les. Great landscaping -lush and green -as it should be. I I love the simple architecture, with Bohemian adornments, and prostrate stature of the homes. That's what it's all about....

  2. I believe that the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about.

    Bismarckia nobilis is gorgeous as is Delonix regia! Your posts from Florida make me want to move. Must keep reminding myself of the humidity, huge reptiles, and bugs as big as your head to temper the desire!

  3. Thanks for injecting a little Florida into my morning, what a lush colorful collection!

  4. Les, these are great examples of tropical landscaping. I have to be honest, in my travels, I don't often see this kind of shaping or planning. A lot of graden just let the plants pop up here and there. I think that was the realization I got from the differences of tropical gardening vs. desert gardening. In the tropics, bad planning means anyone can grow something without thought. In the desert, it's the opposite. Just don't plant anything. Both are ugly. The Flamboyant Tree looks similiar to that of the Flame of the Forest. Beautiful tree. Mangoes, pineapples.....yum! Well designed gardens with beautiful homes. Thanks for the tour.

  5. The Bismarck palms don't do a lot for me, but the flamboyant tree is fantastic. And the thought of picking my own mangos off a tree in the front yard makes me swoon.

  6. I really enjoyed the 'different' trees of Florida, especially the royal poinciana tree or flamboyant tree. It really is FLAMEboyant.

  7. Ha!! The rock necklace comment was funny. As always, beautiful photos. :0)

  8. This looks like a walk that one could take daily and spot something different with each walk. Love those red blooming trees!

    Stay tuned to In the Garden for a great giveaway...

  9. Incredible photos, love the Scefflera. I have to admit I didn't know that mangoes hang down like that, looks fantastic.

  10. I love seeing the gardens and architecture of old Florida before so much of it became so over built and tacky. Thanks for the tour.

  11. The Florida you saw is a tropical paradise. I somehow never find these great landscapes when I am down there:(

  12. I had no idea that mangoes hung down on such long stems (?). What a magical place, the plant material is from a land time forgot.

  13. What a beautiful and relaxing place to live in a property like this. LOVE this look! Beautiful images, thanks for the share. :)
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  14. The colors are amazing! I can't imagine having mangoes hanging in my garden. I've never seen this neighborhood; thanks for the tour! It revises my image of Florida.

  15. John,
    I took these the day after July 4th, and some of the homes had a definate air of "Animal House" about them with beer cans everywhere, overturned lawn chairs and fireworks debris.

    I am with you on being ready to move, though I lived in So. Carolina, so I am used to the humidity, bugs and reptiles.

    You are welcome. It probably would have done you better if I had waited until early February to post these.

    It is not just the tropics where plants pop up and people can grow anything. Here on the East Coast, if you let something go without paying it much attention, you will soon have a small forest on your hands.

    I am with you on the mangos, avocado would do it for me too.

    You may not notice it, but the foliage on the poinciana is beautiful as well, like a mimosa, but that orange flower has a way of blinding people.

    One of my gardening mentors always warned about rock necklaces, but I think I came up with the Wilma Flinstone bit.

    You are right about something different everyday, especially since it is such a big neighborhood. I hope to visit again in winter and see what is blooming then.

    I have nothing but my own imagination to base this on, but I would have thought they grew in clusters close to the branches like an apple would. Who knew they came with tails?

    Stay tuned, I will be showing some of the over-built part in a couple of posts.

    I had a good tour guide to point me in the right direction.

    It is magical, and I was delighted by every step of my walk at all the plant material.

    You are welcome.

    Yes the colors were fantastic, not only on the plants though. The owners of the homes were not afraid of little color on their houses either.

    Yes indeed.


  16. Can't believe how rich the colors are in Florida. Looks like you are having comfortable temperatures.
    Does Penny travel well and accompany you on tours? She looked happy.

  17. very lush!...what is that red bloom on the first picture??

  18. Annie,
    Penny does travel well, we just have to keep her on a short leash, as she is a runner.

    I am not sure what species or cultivar, but I know it is some kind of ginger.


  19. I would be lost gardening in Florida. Everything you have shown seems very exotic to me. I love the shot of the Bismarck palm emerging from behind the white picket fence. It is like Jurassic Park meets middle America.