As history tells us, colorful, fragrant and distinctive flora gave “Florida” its name. Five centuries later, West Villages’ distinctive homes throughout nine stunning neighborhoods offer a do-it-yourself opportunity to create your own paradise in the comfort of your lanai.

It’s said that Ponce de Leon arrived within a few minutes’ drive of what’s now West Villages in the springtime. Indeed, the season’s gorgeous weather marks the ideal time to brighten your outdoor living space in West Villages—while also taking advantage of forced isolation:

Enclosed, but not too close: Start around the edges of your lanai with trees and shrubs. Potted varieties include cycads, with bird-feather-like leaves and stubby trunks, as well as smaller palms such as the cat palm or Chinese fan palm. Remember, plants grow. That’s their job. Choose slow-growing varieties, and distance them from screens to avoid damage.

Green and “clean:” Creating your screened-in Eden involves work, so avoid having to sweep up behind plants whose blossoms will carpet your lanai and possibly stain the flooring. Multicolored Anne Marie lantana and dwarf penta are just two among multiple flowering species that will paint your lanai without painting outside their pots.

Keep similar plants together: “You wouldn’t bake a soufflé and lasagna at the same temp for the same length of time,” says one Sarasota landscaper, while another expert suggests grouping four pots:  “Lanai spaces demand bolder statements to make a visual impact.”

Critters: Your lanai is covered, which is where its name comes from: the Hawaiian word for roofed patio or covered verandah. Lantana makes for delightful butterfly gardens, but you might not want them fluttering around your outdoor living room. Likewise, some gardeners enjoy fruit-bearing trees, such as mangos and citrus—treats for intruders.

Edibles: At the same time, though, lanais can be ideal spots for growing harvestable goodness. That is, ’maters matter: Just listen to this song about homegrown tomatoes. You’ll need to find the sunniest spot for these sun-sucking fruits. Add literal flavor to your lanai with herbs such as basil, oregano, mint, cilantro, chives, ginger and the like.

Some like it hot: Peppers thrive in hot weather. They also spice up some of America’s most iconic foods. You may never have heard of the datil, the orange-colored pepper that made St. Augustine famous. Here a Paul Deen recipe for the addictive Minorcan Clam Chowder, which uses just the right amount of heat. Try growing some in your lanai, and that will do it.

To learn more about blossoming in West Villages, call the Home Buyers Information Line at 941-960-7805. West Villages, a Mattamy Homes Development, continues to closely monitor health risks, so when the time is right to experience Life Your Way in West Villages, visit West Villages’ Model Home Centers, listed here. Or call the Home Buyers Information Line at 941-960-7805.