Blast of Color Brightens the Gardens

A criticism of some tropical gardens is that they don’t have much color. Green is certainly a color, and tropical gardens weave textural contrast with bold foliage that their temperate counterparts cannot begin to approach.

However, from observing photographers in the Gardens, I can appreciate that the subject that most often captures their attention is colorful flowers. Masses of flower color can be used to highlight design, lead the eye, and add an element of change to the landscape. Typically at Selby Gardens two plantings of annual color are installed, one in the fall and another in the spring. This year, thanks to a generous grant from the Linnie E. Dalbeck Memorial Foundation Trust, we have focused our resources on an improved fall planting, and Gardens Manager Lisa Wade and her horticulturists have delivered just that.

Lisa asked her staff to draw out their proposed flower displays on a map. She then looked at these plans collectively to evaluate for overall continuity, color themes, and budget. Once designs were approved, Lisa ordered and arranged a delivery schedule with a commercial grower in Naples, FL, and planting dates were established. With more creative freedom, a comprehensive design process, and a tighter planting schedule, this year’s annual color installation is perhaps the most ambitious in Selby Gardens’ history.

While often denigrated as a ubiquitous annual flower, cultivars of tropical Impatiens walleriana are some of the most dependable plants for continuous winter color in Florida gardens, and because of their price, they provide more “bang for the buck” than any other flower. Many of this year’s floral displays incorporate combinations of orange and violet Impatiens, planted in an attempt to fade

gradually from one color to another. As more than 5,500 annual flowers grow and fill in, we hope that you will find the effect to be an impressive addition to the Gardens’ landscape. Watch us grow!