Inspirational: Yard of Kei Andrews & Marc Speiss


Kei Andrews, Marc Speiss, and their son Ronan have transformed their small yard in a gated subdivision into an wonderland of native plants full of diversity and beauty — in only 2 years.  Their inspirational yard fits into the community confines, and neighbors have hired Marc to improve their yards.  The only remaining non-native plant is the chlorotic foxtail palm that they plan to replace with a cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens).

Marc turned off 3 sprinkler heads, so the gracefully curved front bed is not irrigated. You may know Marc from Maple Street Natives where he works.


The front bed, like all of their well-maintained beds, is full of a variety of well-mixed native plants.  Sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigilosa) dominates and is interplanted with gopher apple (Geobalanus longifolia). …

geobalanus & mimosa

Coontie (Zamia intefgrifolia) and native grasses are included, too …

zamia - grasses


Kei provided a list with space for notes, organized by planting bed, of what they have planted, some of which has been salvaged from nearby lots prior to development.  They also have included not so common natives like dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) …


Their “side yards” are 7′ wide, and 5 feet have been planted heavily leaving 2′ of grass eventually to be replaced with a large paver walking path.  The west yard includes firebush (Hammelia patens), coralbean (Erythrina herbacea), wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa), and tropical sage (Salvia coccinea) among others …

2side view

Salvaged green wild pine (Tillandsia fasciculata) is tucked into this bed …

tillandsia utriculata rescue2

Their backyard bed screens out the ever-encroaching areca palm “hedge” that belongs to their neighbors.  This bed has saw palmetto, beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), scoropiontail (Heliotropium cursaviccum), salvaged resurrection fern (Pleopelits polypoidies) and Florida butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis), and a live oak (Quercus virginiana),  the only “original” plant to remain …

heliotorpium - sernoa - callicarpa - enclyclia closer up

Also in the backyard bed are a salvaged sand pine (Pinus clausa) …

pinus clausum

… varnish leaf (Dodonaea viscosa) purchased at a Eugenia NPS auction about 1-year ago …



… native “shiny” (not fuzzy-buzzy) necklace (Sophora tomentosa) …


Gopher apple was in fruit in the backyard, shown below with blanker flower (Gaillardia pulchella) and saw palmetto …

geobalanus w fruit

Marc built trellises for the back of the house, one covered with heaps of coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) ..P1300317

… and the other was festooned with netleaf virgin’s bower  (Clematis reticulata) …




Another trellis graces the corner of the east yard on which grows corkystem passion flower vine (Passilfora suberosa), larval food of zebra longwing. gulf fritillary, and Julia butterflies.

passiflora suberosa w trellis

This vine, which doe snot overwhelm, is planted throughout their yard including in the east-facing bed …

passiflora suberosa

Also tucked in are pollinator-pleaser Nutall’s thistle (Circium nuttallii) …

cirsum nutalli

… shortleaf blazing star (Liatris tenuifolia) along with Darrow’s blueberry (Vaccinum darrowii)

liarris gracilis

… salvaged prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) …


oputnia humi

Firebush, coralbean, white indigo berry (Randia aculeata), white stopper (Eugenia axillaris), cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco), saw palmetto, and native porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)  …

side view2

side view3


Simpsons stopper (Mycinathes fragrans) is part of the east side planting and are used to screen the view of this electrical box …

myrcinanthes frgrans

myrcianthes - muhlbergia - twinflower

Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and twinflower complement the planting …


Fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum) and beach dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis) complement this corner & screen the trash and recycling cans from view …



Kei and Marc’s yard is truly inspirational!

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