Jonie Delaplane likes it hot.
Just take a stroll through her garden and you'll quickly see that the Evans resident has an affinity for things tropical.
"Well, I just decided that if I can't live on a tropical island, then I'll make my yard look like one," she said.
Delaplane has planted an assortment of palms, Australian tree ferns and banana trees throughout her landscape.
"If someone likes the tropical look, then the Pindo Palm is a wonderful tree to plant," she said. "It gets to be about 10 feet."
Despite the mature look of Delaplane's garden, she still refers to it as a "work in progress."
"When we first moved here eight years ago, we had a mound of weeds," Delaplane said.
But the hours of planning, digging and planting have rewarded Delaplane with a lush landscape that she enjoys even when it's cold outside.
"I've found that many of my shrubs and plants winter over well here," she said. The white bird of paradise, jasmine pinwheel and caldylines are among the many plants that Delaplane has seen thrive in the winter.
"The sellom is known to grow well all over Florida, but I've also found it to be wonderful here, too," she said. "You can put it anywhere - in the shade or the sun.
"Many of these plants are designated for zones 9 and 10, and, of course, we're an 8, but I like to push the envelope," she said.
There are a few plants that require a little extra attention to ensure that they fare well.
"Things like the white bird of paradise, tibouchina and bougandulla need to have a protected south wall," Delaplane said.
When the temperatures drop, she has discovered - through trial and error and even desperation - just what it takes to create a tropical-like atmosphere for the health and welfare of a plant.
"Every year, I take bales of straw and place them all around my tropical plants," she said. "Out of desperation, one year, I not only covered my Australian tree fern, but I decided to stick straw down the center and then cover it."
"That was the year my Australian tree fern wintered over," she said. "And I had killed many before that."
Delaplane says she knows it's time to go into protect-mode when temperatures are consistently cold.
"When I see that it is going to be 45 degrees at night, especially for more than one night, I get nervous," she said. "That's when I begin to prepare my trees for the cold."
Burrowing trees in straw is one of the smaller measures Delaplane has employed to protect her plants.
"In the past, when we've had a cold snap, I've wrapped the trees in newspaper and burlap," she said.
Never mind that her husband and friends tell her it looks like she has huge origami structures or mummies in the yard.
Anything to protect the plants.
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