Almost 20 years ago I escaped the frozen tundra of Michigan and moved into the sauna of NW Orlando. It's hard to describe the abrupt transition, but I was pretty sure that I moved into an oven. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity in the summer, it was far better than spending September-April indoors and never seeing the sun!
I lucked out when I moved, as I bought very cheap just before a huge price jump in the Orlando housing market. I found a nice house on about 3/4 acre of land with a great looking canopy of about 40 big oaks and a few pines. What I did *not* luck out on is my ignorance of southern oak trees. I didn't know that they were *not* the typical Northern red oaks with strong root systems and 200+ year lifespans. Nope, I had 40+ "Water Oaks" (Quercus Nigra) that have a 30-50 year life span, shallow root systems and really weak limbs. Branches fall on a nearly daily basis, punching holes in my roof, denting my cars and making a continuous mess of the yard. Hurricanes came through and mangled the oaks, taking several down and pushing others over sideways, cracking my driveway in several places. I was annoyed by basically everything in the yard and just ignored it for at least 15 years. I spent all my time training for and racing Ironman Triathlon and various Ultramarathons, racking up over 50,000 miles biking and 10,000+ miles running.
After years of indecision and neglect I finally started to tame the jungle of weeds and ferns, starting with taking down about 15 water oaks and a couple of tall pines in 2015. Below are the "before" pictures, with a full canopy of water oaks and a huge crop of ferns. When I first started my palm obsession I found the PalmTalk build threads incredibly useful. What follows is my journal, documenting building my own tropical paradise in a little corner of NW Orlando.
I went to a nursery called The Great Big Greenhouse and Nursery and they had a pretty good selection of palms for my location. Unfortunately, I could not find any cold hardy species. I am kind of surprised they didn't have some Sabal minor or Needle palms. But they did have some pretty cool non hardy (to this area) palms.
Sabal ‘Louisiana’ #1
This little guy is growing slowly but surely. The spear in the middle is starting to make itself more prominent.
I figured I would start a new topic giving an update on some of my palms and other things growing in a Virginia garden. Now that I've had a little more free time, I've been catching up on quite a bit of weeding and such. It's still a work in progress. Hopefully, I can get the photos to load. Ever since getting a different phone I've had some difficulties uploading photos, so trying the computer.