The Shrub Queen: Springtime in Tropic Florida

The Shrub Queen:

Landscape Commentary from the Treasure Coast

Springtime in Tropic Florida


This is a Tabebuia in the parking lot of my grocery store. To me, Tabebuias are the Forsythias of spring in South Florida. Bright, cheerful yellow flowers on a semi gnarly trunked tree with corky bark. This tree will soon be covered in yellow trumpets.

Tropic Florida, to the best of my knowledge is a term coined by Frederic Stresau to describe South Florida, he is a fellow Landscape Architect who wrote the book on Florida. The book is unfortunately titled Florida, My Eden, making it sound more like romance than shrubbery. Mr. Stresau has been gone for many years and I think his book could use a little updating and really a new title.


Onward, I do like the sound of Tropic Florida vs. South Florida. Whereas it never gets really cold here winter has its cold fronts and they are finally passing into warmer cold fronts. It is late March and here are the actual signs of spring from the garden:

The fruit trees are blooming and the bees are out in full force:

On the left, we have a Rose Apple, Syzgium jambos, a rather weird fruit common in the Caribbean, it has a rose scent with a slightly sweet taste and the texture of a water chestnut. We keep meaning to make a pie from the fruit.

On the right is a Mango in bloom, I think this is a Haden Mango, nice fruit for eating or baking a Mango Rum Cake. I have had fruit from this particular tree and it is highly recommended.

Other harbingers of Spring from Tropic Florida


On the left, Shell Ginger, Alpinia zerumbet, a true sign of Spring peeking out from its foliage and to the right flowers from the Hong Kong Orchid tree. I have cut these for flower arrangements these past couple of weeks.

I am trying to get everything in place for the hot summer weather and feel time slipping away for working outside. My tomatoes have set fruit and I think the Armadillos ate it! Tomato season really ends about Memorial Day here, although it can be pushed to July 4th. I have seen people use umbrellas over tomato plants to extend the season.

Time for me to get back to the garden.

Amelia Grant

A native of Atlanta, Georgia and extraordinarily well seasoned Landscape Architect/Designer/Writer. I began bouncing around South Florida in the late 1980’s selecting and buying plants for Shopping Mall Interiors I had designed.
Eventually my college roommate landed in Hobe Sound and I came to visit and fell in love with the Treasure Coast. My husband was on the verge of retiring from the practice of Architecture so we came down, bought a house near the Indian River and left the big city’s cold and the traffic far behind.
The blog began as an effort to fill what I considered a vacuum in good gardening information for the Treasure Coast. The Shrub Queen name is a nod to a long standing joke, my husband has called me this for years after one too many Architects asked me to “shrub something up”.
Amelia Grant
Freelance Writing
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  • Posted 8 years ago

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