Buying Plants and Interesting Property Finds

It’s been a busy week! For this post I want to mention some of my thoughts on the best places to buy plants then I’ve got some pictures of things that I’ve found on the property.

We spent last weekend in Minnesota visiting some relatives, while there we dropped by Walmart to do some shopping for a birthday party. I took a few minutes to browse through the nursery area to confirm something I have suspected for some time, the plants and seeds they were selling there (hardiness zone 4b, St. Paul) are almost exactly the same ones they sell here in Florida (zone 9b).

The big box stores don’t care if your plants grow. What they care about is selling you something, even if it’s not right for your area. I’ve noticed that many plant varieties sold at the home improvement stores are often for the wrong zone. I have a couple of suggestions to help avoid ending up with something that won’t grow.

First, take advantage of the guarantees offered by the big stores. Most offer one year guarantees, save the pots and your receipts and take them up on this if the plant doesn’t live. Second, try to buy from local sources. Nurseries will usually have plant better suited for your area and you can also find a lot of private sellers on sites like Craigslist selling plants they have propagated. Third, buy seed from mail order suppliers that offer more options and choose varieties that are better suited for your zone.

On to the next subject, interesting property finds. When we purchased Three Acre Paradise it was completely overrun by Brazilian Pepper trees, a big nuisance here in Florida. I wanted to keep as many of the good trees as possible so I spent around 6 months clearing the property which exposed a lot of interesting features. Some were removed or destroyed by the land clearing process but a lot still exist which I spent some time yesterday taking pictures of.

The first one here is an oak tree with a few dead branches. A majority of the trees here are oak and palm followed by pine. A lot of the oak and pine trees have dead branches which look really eerie at night when the moonlight shines through:


The daytime picture isn’t nearly as interesting as a night shot but I haven’t had much luck getting night photos. A majority of the dead branches may be due to the trees being stressed when the land was filled in years ago. Some other damage has been caused by wind over the years, I’ve got a few palm trees which fell over at some point then continued to grow. Here’s a some examples:


The next one is what I call the four sisters. It is four palm trees that grew up in an almost perfectly straight row. Maybe they were planted that way on purpose? I doubt it but it is strange:


Here’s a man made oddity, an old fence post that an oak tree grew around. This is on the west property line, a chain link fence has since replaced the original barbed wire one. Three Acre Paradise was originally part of a larger property (to the east) and was divided out at some point.


For more of a natural hug, here is a couple of trees that grew up around each other. I’ve got dozens of examples of these since the trees are so dense in some areas.


Because of the dense cover, a lot of trees have grown up at odd angles as they try to reach for some light. Here’s one of many examples of these. Notice how they are all growing towards the left:


I’m slowly thinning out trees as it makes sense, I want the new growth to be stronger and straighter so more things can be planted. I’m only removing and trimming as needed though as the trees have provided an excellent wind break during the hurricanes that have come through in the last two years.

This next one is man made, the remnants of a tree fort from who knows when:


Whoever built it did a great job for the foundation to still be there after all these years.

The next four pictures are just some of the plants that were already here growing wild, there is some Wax Myrtle, ferns, and an unidentified plant that likes the wet areas:


I’ve preserved as much native vegetation as possible while also improving the drainage and water retention of the property. I know that sounds like two opposing goals but the plan is to direct runoff water to designated holding areas so I don’t have to irrigate but still have high & dry areas to grow.

The last pictures are the most fun. These are a couple of things that were found while clearing the land, starting with a traffic light:


Now, remember I mentioned the property was heavily overgrown? Prior to the purchase we walked around as much as possible but were limited due to the density of the plants, primarily the Brazilian Pepper trees. Here’s how dense it was, we never noticed this until after the purchase and the clearing started:


Yes, that’s an airplane hiding in there. I’ts actually just the fuselage, a lot of parts were scattered around but no wings were found. I’d really like to know the history but none of the neighbors seem to know anything about it and they have lived around here for a long time.


The plane will never fly again but it was reborn into a running vehicle, I gave it to a friend and he used it as a project with his sons to turn it into a parade vehicle. It now has the running gear from a golf cart and can be driven. Here is a picture of the plane as it was removed from the collapsing shelter:


This week might be an exciting one, if all goes well we will have the front fencing installed (if the weather cooperates). My big goals for this year are to have the fencing in and the infrastructure for future projects completed, this would be all the underground water and electrical wires as well as grass borders.

Oh, by the way the first image isn’t from the property, it’s from the lake down the street. It’s a popular gathering spot for watching sunsets.

Until then, stay dry!

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