Gardens in Other Climates

Recently I’ve travelled in Savannah, GA, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, at the northern end of Florida, and Jekyll Island, GA. As I walked trails, Savannah’s city squares and botanical garden, and looked at plantings in yards and public spaces in these locales, I couldn’t help but notice again how different not only the vegetation along trails is from what I see in northern New England, but also how different are the plants in the created gardens.

This small succulent garden, on the corner of Jasmine and Fletcher streets in Fernandina Beach, across the road from the beach, was a favourite; the sign said it was installed by Rockstar Gardens (get it?).

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Although the garden has an exotic, tropical appeal to me, some of the plants look not unlike the sedums and ice plants in my own garden, 1,200 miles away:

Delosperma 'Jewel of Desert Topaz' ice plant
Delosperma ‘Jewel of Desert Topaz’ ice plant
Sedum 'Hab Grey'
Sedum ‘Hab Grey’
Sedum cauticola, with oregano and lupine
Sedum cauticola, with oregano and lupine
sedum whose name I can't recall
sedum whose name I can’t recall
Sedum selskianum 'Spirit'
Sedum selskianum ‘Spirit’


In Savannah, in some of the downtown squares as well as in the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, I saw Giant Leopard Plant (Ligularia tussilaginea ‘Gigantea’), which is very similar to the Ligularia stenocephala ‘Little Rocket’ we plant in our gardens (some do; I haven’t) in New England. 

Ligularia tussilaginea 'Gigantea' in a downtown Savannah square
Ligularia tussilaginea ‘Gigantea’ in a downtown Savannah square
Ligularia tussilaginea 'Gigantea' at Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, outside Savannah
Ligularia tussilaginea ‘Gigantea’ at Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, outside Savannah


This planter, on a street in Savannah, is more familiar than not:


The sage, rosemary, lavender, and (I think) thyme or oregano in these pots is similar to what’s in my herb container in NH — with rosemary, tarragon, and parsley — except that mine is now covered in snow:

As is the sage in my sunroom border:


On Bull Street in Savannah (and probably elsewhere in town) there are small plantings along the sidewalk that include edible plants and others — I think I see rosemary in the top photo here, and perhaps Brussels sprouts, though it’s probably ornamental cabbage; plus the lush foxtail fern, and penta, lantana, and ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia (in the bottom photo), all annuals here, the latter of which never seems to survive even a few weeks for me.



In the Jekyll Island historic district, there’s this planter with dead nettle (Lamium sp.), which is also perennial here in NH, and it looks like perhaps a heuchera or a tiarella, also perennials in NH (and tiarella grows wild):

My dead nettle and tiarella:

purple dead nettle and yellow archangel in shade garden, June 2016
purple dead nettle and yellow archangel in shade garden, June 2016
tiarella in bloom, June 2016
tiarella in bloom, June 2016


In the market/shops area of Jekyll Island, there are containers of neon, tropical plants, quite different from what’s normally seen here in northern New England even in summer as hothouse annuals, much less in December:

Duranta ‘Goldmound’, Phormium ‘Cha Cha’, Diascia species (with orange flowers), Brassica oleracea cultivars (kale) including B. oleacea ‘Peacock White’ and a Cordyline, possibly ‘Red Sensation’ (the red grassy looking plant).
Strelitzia nicolai (sometimes calle Wild Banana), Matthiola incana double cultivar (stock), and Brassica oleracea cultivar (ornamental cabbage).

(IDs for two planters above are by someone else, not me!)

By contrast, here’s one of the containers at The Fells, in Newbury, NH, this past June, with coleus (an annual here) and dahlias, which have to be dug up, stored in a basement or other cool dark spot, and replanted each year; and by no means will they bloom outside in December:



Finally, in downtown Fernandina Beach, just before Christmas there were containers of tropical canna lilies, hardy in zones 8-12 but not in my zone 4 or 5:


Since I can’t have canna lilies in my climate, I’ve planted crocosmia bulbs, which are hardy here and provide a showy tropical display that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies for several months:



Just looking at these photos almost convinces me that spring is just around the corner. Almost.



(Featured image: ginger plants in Wright Square in Savannah, December 2016)

One comment

  1. Your sage seems the holding its own against the snow. Our winter climate is considerably warmer but my sage leaves are decidedly holey.

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