Creating a white garden in the early 90s was a particular challenge. There just werent that many different varieties of plants available back then, says Sallye. Not to mention white ones.
But she was up to the challenge. She first learned to garden as a child growing up in Baltimore, Md., where her family had a Victory Garden. But moving here to the subtropics took some adjustment.
Id go out and put in my snapdragons and all the other plants from my temperate life, she says. But something would come along at night and mow them down. I thought, Gee, I have to learn what I can grow here.
Thats when she started visiting Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and joining plant groups such as the Tropical Flowering Tree Society and the Coral Gables Garden Club.
Over the years, she learned about different varieties of white blooming plants that the groups introduced to their members and made available through plant sales.
The number of different types of plants in my garden has really increased, says Sallye.
Today her white blooms include the white plumeria or bridal bouquet standing tall and proud. Closer to the earth, a scorpion tail displays its curling flowers in a natural arrangement that resembles its namesake. It will grow just about any place, Sallye says.
The cleft leaves of the bauhinia divericata are accented here and there with intricate clusters of white flowers that attract butterflies. And although blue plumbago is a common butterfly plant, Sallye has the white variety.
You also may be familiar with the orange geiger tree. But Sallyes is a white geiger, as is her clerodendron shooting star that has blooms resembling bursts of fireworks.
A round pool in the center of the White Garden is populated with papyrus and water lilies. I got the whitest ones I could find, says Sallye speaking of the cream and yellow blooms that laze in the water on this hot and steamy day.
One of our favorites among her many showy, snowy blooms is aptly named musical notes. Its unopened flowers resemble notes of a musical score. And after opening into white flowers with red stamens, they last only a day, making them as ephemeral as a song.
In her White Garden, Sallye not only uses plants with white blooms but also those with variegated and frosted leaves. For example, her tropical variegated ilex or holly has green and cream or white leaves as do the variegated lariope and spider lilies.
Lift one of the large fans on the white elephant palm and youll discover a frosted underside that adds a shimmer of white to the foliage when the breeze disturbs them. This time of year, however, the breezes are few but the mosquitoes are many. Thats when its time to take advantage of the uvodia.
Its a New Guinea native with shiny green leaves and flat clusters of tiny white flowers. Sallye says that the natives discovered that if they crumpled the leaves and rubbed them on their skin, the bugs would stay away.
We take a moment to try this primitive bug repellant and hope it works.
As we ramble the garden, Sallye explains that because of her husbands health, they have put their home up for sale. They will soon be moving to the French Normandy Village developed by George Merrick. Their new home dates back to 1926.
To Sallyes relief, her new yard will be much smaller and easier to tend. And she tells us that although shes enjoyed working on it, she has no plans to re-create her White Garden.
Instead, shell lay paths using bricks recycled from the original Miami High School. And then shell fill each section of her yard with plants blooming in a different hue.
In keeping with the scheme, she will call it her Rainbow Garden. And, after all these years, shell get a chance to explore the many colorful exotics now on the market.