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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems






Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Proper Farewell

Water feature in the Circle Garden. Photo taken July 14, 2014
We handed over the keys of our home (and garden) to the new owners this past Monday morning. Since the day we signed the contract to sell it on June 1st, I thought I should remember to take a lot of photos of the garden before we left. It turns out I didn't take as many as I wanted nor as often as I wanted.
A slice of the front summer garden. Photo taken July 14, 2014
As life goes, I was extremely busy. Not only was I moving my garden, but even though we initially moved next door in November 2013 we had left quite a large amount of our household belongings behind. It was supposed to be a temporary move. I thought it was wise to move only what we needed for every day living.
Transition from side-yard edible garden to back garden. Photo taken July 14, 2014
Wow. Have you ever had to move after living in the same house for 30 years? I don't recommend it. It is a monumental undertaking. There was a small glitch with the buyer's arrangements along the way or we would have closed the deal in just 30 days. Was I ever relieved when we were given a couple of extra weeks of time. All of this probably doesn't make much sense to you if you missed the story about why we moved and how we bought the house next door.  You can catch up on that story here.

Edible garden opens up to the back garden. Photo taken July 14, 2014
As soon as we signed the contract to sell our home I began moving plants from my garden to my new garden. But I didn't want to move all my garden accessories until I was certain the buyers had all their ducks in a row. Once we got the final word that their financing had been approved I felt it was safe to start moving my birdhouses, bird baths, bird feeders, seating, containers, wind chimes, and all of the other accoutrements I used as focal points in my garden.
Rounding the bend into the open back garden. Photo taken July 14, 2014
I made a list 3 legal sheets long of plants I wanted to dig up or take cuttings from before we closed. Don't worry. There are plenty left for the new owners. Turns out the thinning job I did was actually good for the garden. They have more than enough to keep them busy.
A look to the Circle Garden which then takes you to the Tropical Garden and Butterfly Gardens.
Photo taken July 14, 2014
After spending so many years nurturing and building my garden one planting bed at a time it seems only fitting to have one last look at it here with some final parting shots. There are hours and hours of sweat equity in this garden.
Front Garden. Photo taken July 14, 2014
It's hard to believe this 1/2 acre+ garden began as almost all lawn when we started. In the back garden I planted every tree (except 2) and every single shrub and  plant with my very own calloused hands. All of them began from small sizes, including the trees. I rarely buy anything over 3gal size and those are few and far between. More often than not I'm looking around my own garden to see what I can divide and transplant. So many of my plants came from friends and neighbors. 
A view from the back open patio. Photo taken July 13, 2014
My style evolved from a well-manicured lawn to a more naturalistic design combining lots of native plants with Florida-Friendly choices. I was able to spend some serious gardening time during the past 15 years, which is when the major transformation began. I dug out most of the grass the hard way ~ with a shovel~ to eliminate lawn and to create beds and pathways. Eventually I learned how to layer paper or cardboard and top it off with either good soil for planting or mulch for pathways.

The landing for the fire pit area and a sweeping border of Caladiums mixed with perennials. Photo taken July 14, 2014
Truck load after truck load of mulch was purchased every season and distributed by way of carting my trusty wheelbarrow around to shrubs and plants. Over the years I've hauled hundreds of pounds of rocks, stones and gravel for various projects. Using my own compost I amended the beds seasonally and regularly scattered grass clippings and shredded leaves directly into them to increase the organic structure of the soil. I cultivated my first ever edible garden and incorporated annuals and perennials to draw in beneficial insects. The more I learned I decided to eliminate the use of pesticides and learned to garden organically.  A peaceful garden filled with wildlife and butterflies was the result.
Back garden view. Photo taken July 14, 2014
I love to do all of it. As I'm sure you understand or you wouldn't be here reading this. Gardening is part of who I am. It's second nature to me. I actually love the design side of gardening and helping others to learn and to achieve beyond what they think they can. I'm also passionate about the maintenance side of gardening. Picking weeds, pruning, watering, seasonal chores and keeping up with every little part of my garden all year long. Honestly, I wouldn't want to garden anywhere else but Florida. I'd never want an entire season (or two) when it wasn't possible to garden due to weather conditions that prevent outdoor activity.
Back garden view. Photo taken July 14, 2014
I would be lying if I said the transition of moving from my house and garden has been easy emotionally. Leaving my mature garden right at the point when I felt like it had finally come to the stage of full development has been extremely heart wrenching. It was fiscally prudent for us to sell our home so I have chosen to accept our decision with peace. Some moments over the last 6 weeks have been harder than others. It takes time to process this kind of loss. There are times when I'm caught off guard by sadness and then I come full circle back to reason and my heart calms. Only the grace of God has given me the strength to do it. It has been an intense period of time emotionally and physically.
Back garden view. Photo taken July 14, 2014
All that said, I can also say I have gradually embraced the challenges of starting over and creating a new garden. (I'll be sharing more about what I've done so far in the new garden in another blog.) But I can tell you that rather than shrinking from the hard work (like I first felt like doing) it has invigorated me. Design ideas and project ideas have kicked into overdrive. Of course it will all take time... don't we all know patience is key for any gardener.

If you missed seeing it on my Hoe and Shovel Facebook page, you can watch this brief video I filmed of the back garden the last morning I was there.
Front garden view. Photo taken July 14, 2014
I plan to help my new neighbors to the extent they want or need. I'm sure I'll get to be in the gardens I created in the future. In my new role and capacity as neighbor and helper it will be very different.
Tropical garden view. Photo taken July 14, 2014
Life is full of surprises and lessons to learn. I can't say that I have all the lessons in this rather surprising move figured out, but I'm confident they will be revealed to me as I continue to count my blessings.  I've said my proper farewells to the old garden. Now I'm looking ahead with great anticipation to a brand new garden and whatever the future holds in our new home. AND you can follow along as I continue to blog about the progress at Hoe and Shovel.

Happy gardening, Friends, and thank you for being a valuable part of this journey!
Meems

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Come hang out with me and other gardening friends for daily updates at Hoe and Shovel on Facebook... here's the link:
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All material © 2007-2014 by Meems for Hoe and Shovel Gardening Blog. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A New Journey :: The Bitter and The Sweet

Hoe and Shovel Garden June 2014
The more we live/mature the more we realize life is most often sweet but once in a while it deals out a bit of bitter. When Mr. Meems and I were making the hard decision recently about whether to undergo a major house-remodeling project or to move away from our home of 30 years, we knew for certain that leaving my garden wasn't an option. At first the idea was unthinkable. It wasn't in the realm of possibilities. No, not even a consideration. I could not sell my house which would mean I would leave my garden behind. We would bite the bullet and invest in an overdue renovation of our home. It was a decision we had contemplated for a long time and put off for even longer.
Favorite bird bath













To be fair and to complete this story let's rewind to last year. We bought the house next door April 2013. Yes, you read that right. The house next door. The one right next door to mine. Our longtime (recently widowed) neighbor bought a smaller, more convenient home (for him) and he sold us his house. Our overall plan was to update/rejuvenate the house next door with new floors, paint, and a few other essentials. We were to move into it temporarily (while ours was being remodeled) and then sell it. We moved into the house next door November of 2013 when the renovation on it was complete. That was the plan. It was going to be a sweet blessing not to be living in our house during the remodel.
Water feature in the Circle Garden
A side note is needed here: since April 2013 I've been gardening on both lots. Each of them is a little over half an acre. In the new garden I was mainly keeping up with weeds and trimming. But last fall (when we moved into the house next door) I just could't help myself.  I started planting some rooted cuttings from my garden into the garden next door. The barren planting beds were begging for my attention. I'll talk more about that fun in another blog. For now it will be less confusing if I keep this about the timeline progression of the two houses.
A view of my back garden June 2014
I think you know where this is going.

It's a really long story. For the sake of this blog, the short of it is that what I thought was the unthinkable became the reality. Have you ever noticed how time and circumstance have a way of easing into our hearts and minds and ever-so sneakily whittling away at some of the *things* we think we already have figured out in life.

A month ago we signed a contract to sell our home of 30 years. That means the garden too. I know. This is the bitter part. Bitter sadness at every thought of leaving my garden was overwhelming in the beginning. Okay, y'all know I don't like emotional drama. This was dramatic! At times I have thought I might melt into a pool of sorrow never to be recollected. It catches me off guard. It's kinda like parts of my heart are being ripped out of me while my soul watches from a distance. I had said yes to the sale with my mind and mouth, but my heart was really clinging at first.
Penelope the flamingo
Selling our home (and garden) was an unexpected turn of events. The renovation project was finally underway. We had just completed some major foundation work on our home (due to some ground settling issues) and the last nail in the new roof was hammered.  Just before the contractor was scheduled to start the remodel we thought the time was right to do some additional investigating for future planning. We spoke with a Realtor in reference to selling the house next door. (The house we bought to live in temporarily just in case you're lost in all this).
Birdhouse Garden June 2014
The Realtor gave us numbers and figures to think about for both houses in the course of our appointment with her. Within the week she called us to ask if she could bring some people by to look at our house. The one we weren't going to sell. The one we have lived in for 30 years, raised our children in and the one with the dream garden I built with my own sweat and energy one plant and one border at a time.
A shady sweep of 'Postman Joyner' Caladiums in the back garden
Fast forward to a week later. The savvy young couple who looked at it ~ even though it wasn't for sale and there was no pressure on us to sell ~ wanted to buy it ~ just like it is ~ without the completed renovation. We agreed to sell it. Our closing is scheduled for next week. Just like that.

It's a perfect house for their little family. They are super excited about the house and the garden. We are excited to have them as our new neighbors.
The fire pit seating area I built February 2014
It was agreeable to everyone that we could move most of my garden accessories (pots, birdhouses, bird feeders, fire pit.) And then there were some plants that were pass-alongs or gifts from special people. I've rooted a load of cuttings from favorite plants also. Needless to say it has been an exhausting month making all that happen so quickly. More about that in another blog.
New (current) house has an open deck we rebuilt that overlooks my new back garden
It isn't as difficult to think about leaving the house as it is about leaving my garden. The memories made in that house will be forever with me and my family. It is much more of a challenge to leave the garden. I always pictured myself still toiling in it when I was 90.

My emotions about leaving the garden have gone from devastated in the beginning days to hopeful as time passes. This is a new journey in our lives. I'm beginning to see the bright side to starting over. My new garden has some great bones (mature oaks, palmettos, and established shrubs), but after that it is a fairly plain pallet. There isn't nearly the amount of shade that I had before so I'm making big adjustments concerning sun conditions and right-plant, right place locations. I see it all as a new opportunity.
A small glimpse at my new garden. 'Celebration' Caladium in the foreground. Bulbs planted May 5. Photo: July 3, 2014
I'm going to take my time to really think out exactly how much and what I want to do in this garden. This house is a little smaller and the lot is a little bigger. We have a large open deck now instead of a screened lanai with a pool. I'm looking forward to this new adventure. Often in life you just might not know why things happen like they do. So we put on our big-girl pants and make the choice to turn the bitter into sweet. One thing I do know. I will create a garden wherever I am and it will be a reflection of me ... warts and all. Stay tuned for a sweet future ahead!
This quote really touched my heart when I read it recently.

Happy gardening,
Meems

Come hang out with me and other gardening friends for daily updates at Hoe and Shovel on Facebook... here's the link:
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All material © 2007-2014 by Meems for Hoe and Shovel Gardening Blog. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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