Home Page
Order Books
Featured Plants
Seasonal Advice
News Columns
Other Work

Book Signings and Lectures
by Monica Brandies


Would you like to be notified of new books or website updates?
Join our Mailing List.
It is completely confidential and voluntary. You may Subscribe or Unsubscribe at any time.



Plants to See and Share

Shrimp plants, with blooms of silver, dark red, yellow, or the lime green and pink of 'Fruit Cocktail' are easy to root and grow, and nice in bouquets.

I'm working on labels that will be in place when you come visit my garden (see address and directions below). But there are so many plant that you might miss some. Here are a few you might want to check out carefully.

Start your own with free cuttings.

Ornamental sweet potatoes 'Blackie' are growing to the left of the driveway as you come in with their beautiful purple leaves. If you want chartreuse ones, there are plenty in front of St. Francis Church in Seffner. You can take cuttings either place. Please start with the ones that hang over the walk or drive. These will root even in water.

Also to the left climbing on the Pindo palm you'll see, if you look closely, the dark blue flowers of the blue butterfly pea. There are plenty of small plants you can dig or pull of this, but notice how it takes over.

On the right are silver shrimp plants. I dug out dozens of these last spring and you can dig out more or take cuttings which root easily. These are nice in bouquets. At other places in the yard I have deep red, lime green, and 'Fruit Cocktail' shrimp plants.

There are pink pentas overgrowing the path in the back yard left near the gate in the chain link fence. On the right is a chaya, a fine butterfly plant with leaves that are edible if you boil them for one minute. This one will root if you throw it on the ground and thrive in sun or shade. You can prune it to any size or shape and it is good for temporary summer shade in a herb garden.

There will be plants of Quisqualis, Beauty berry, and a cactus to dig. If you can't find them, ask me. Others cuttings you might want to take are the fire bush by the new gate in front, the firespike or blue sage or devil's backbone by the slide in back, or the cranberry hibiscus in the front.

Devils backbone with its variegated foliage is the only succulent I know of that thrives in shade or sun.

Unusual plants at bargain prices.

You'll see Jewels of Opar blooming all over my garden, perhaps the best ones under the kumquat tree. I'll have plants for sale of this from which we eat a leaf a day to stay healthy.

In the back yard in the far corner in the vegetable garden in front of the sunflower is Dawn Dewa: Gynura nepalensis, also known as, Leaves of the Gods, Poor Man's gingseng, and Mollucan spinach. This one is purported to lower high cholesterol and ease indigestion. It is hardy and fast growing.. Suggested use: three leaves a day in salad or right off the plant.

Just to the left of Dawn Dewa is Okinawa spinach, Gynura crepioides, a cousin with very slightly different leaves that are dark green on top, maroon underneath. They add eye appeal to a salad and I've used them lavishly for the last two year. I have it growing in sun to partial shade. It spreads nicely.

There will also be some banana plants, some golden showers cassias, herbs, and bulbs of pinecone and butterfly gingers.

Chaya is a good butterfly plant that can be used for quick and temporary shade


One of the perks of opening my garden is that I feel justified in buying new plants. I had never seen Medinellas for sale before though I'd admired them greatly, especially my friend Nancy's and the one at Eureka Springs. My brand new possession is blooming nicely with pink flowers that will be followed by dark purple fruits if all goes well.

I think this is the first year the Miowa kumquats will be ripe in time for you to taste them. Eat skin and all of these small citrus. Some kumquats are sour but these are tangy but sweet. Just spit out the seeds or take them home and plant them. Anyone who wants can also take a star fruit, but mine is much more sour than some. Please leave other fruits. Most of them will not be ready yet.


  • If you are taking the Interstate 75, exit for Highway 60. Go east past the Brandon Mall about a mile. Turn left or north on Lakewood from Highway 60 to Windhorst Road, the second light. Turn west or left and go to the second right hand turn onto Estatewood Drive. This becomes Burning Tree Lane without any turns at the next block and we are on the left on the curve at 1508. There will be signs. Call 813- 654-1969 if you get lost or need further details.
  • Or go off I4 at exit 10, go south on 579 to MLK Blvd (to the Race Trac just past WalMart) and turn right. Go to Lakewood and turn left. Cross the railroad and go about half a mile. Watch for signs at either Woodhaven or Windhorst, turn right, and follow the signs.