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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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Three Florida-Friendly Gardens

Would you like to go with me to three Hillsborough County Master Gardeners' personal gardens for a brief tour? It's been quite a while since I took these photos and toured these gardens, but I'm catching up on blog posts that I started and never finished. Do you do that? Ack! I have lots of them. Where does the time go?


Laura gardens with low-maintenance and the nine Florida-Friendly principles in mind. In her narrow backyard, this shady spot is especially peaceful.
Love the blooming Muhly grass - sorta indicates the season :-) we visited. Notice how Laura reins in her mulched area next to the sidewalk. No loss of mulch when it rains.
Her home is a corner lot with sidewalks. You know what that means. A classic hell strip with which to contend. Most homeowners struggle to keep their grass looking decent in these situations where irrigation and pests are often a constant problem. Wisely, Laura removed her turf grass and in its place a lovely cover combining peanut grass and Asiatic jasmine. Both of these plants thrive in these conditions, unlike turf grass which struggles in our Florida weather with seasonal fluctuating heat, humidity and occasional frost.

Shrubs, Florida-Friendly plants, agaves and ornamental grasses make up the rest of the front garden. The stone pathway leads us to the back garden entrance.

Succulents, herbs and some edibles are grown in the one sunny corner of her back yard.

A small greenhouse/potting shed (not visible) and her chicken coup all fit on the side of the back garden. She's made the most of her space in her suburban yard in Tampa.
Three rain barrels connected to each other help her conserve Florida's abundant summer rain fall for use when she needs it.
I was coveting a variegated crinum she was growing.  I've never seen one before or since.


Maryhelen's garden is a surprise ~ a good one. It is relatively small, but every inch of her yard was filled with plants, whimsies and water features. You'd never think you could fit so much into one space. She and her husband have worked together to create an oasis and a retreat that gives the feeling of privacy within a suburban neighborhood.

This croton received lots of attention from all of us.

It is an older variety you don't see everyday. Croton 'Mother and daughters' is a stunning foliage plant.
There is lots of  whimsical yard art mixed in with her Florida-Friendly garden.

More great color from crotons in the back garden. Her carnivorous plants were healthy and stunning sitting in a shallow bird bath to provide them the extra water they require.



Perhaps the most unique feature in Maryhelen's yard was her pool. She turned her full-size in-ground pool into a Koi pond. They built decking all around it with part of it overlapping it which gives the fish more places to hide.

Beautiful colors and large size koi happy and safe from predators because of the depth of the water in Maryhelen's pool-pond!

Shari's garden resembled an artist painting. At each turn in her garden it was a new canvas painted with tasteful vignettes. These lovely container boxes hang from a white picket fence that isolates her pool area within a beautifully shaded part of the back/side garden.
Love those Queen Emmas also.
I got my idea to add birdhouses to my garden from this scene in Shari's garden. You can see how I interpreted this idea to my garden here.

Shari's sunniest side was full with colorful perennials like this Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) blended with African bush daisy (Gamolepis chrysanthemoides) and red Pentas.
A hedge of great color and texture combinations along a grassy pathway.

Shari gave me/us cuttings from her Salvia mexicana that are growing and adding rich purple blooms in several spots in my garden now.

Clay pot characters guard the entrance to her little greenhouse. Yes, she made them.

Color and texture provided by the bottle trees complement the landscape and appear to be growing out of the 'Cuban gold' Duranta shrubs.

All of her artwork is tastefully placed. She commissioned these two Sandhill Cranes by a local artist.

The blue corner of Shari's garden inspired the addition of blue spheres to my existing blue container pots. I like the mix of shades of blue she's combined.
Angel fairies invite visitors to have a restful seat on the pergola swing in the shady side of the front garden.

I hope you enjoyed these three very diverse gardens. It's a wonderful learning experience to visit someone's personal garden. I always come away from other gardens with ideas and thoughts that provoke inspiration. Don't you?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Upcycled Wooden Pallet Garden Art


This winter one of the visions I've been holding in my mind for my garden became reality. I carved out a space for an outdoor fire pit/ seating area. I'll catch you up about how that came to be at another time. Today it's about the garden art I made to complement the space.
The steel fire pit was delivered on this pallet. I tried so hard to get rid of the pallet. Twice. Chance would have it that the two times I thought I had arranged for someone to haul it off, they left it behind. That's when I decided to put it to use. My first idea was to fill it with dirt and plant a vertical garden. For some odd reason this pallet has slats too wide (to plant) on one side and too close on the other.

I'm working on trying to think outside of my comfort zone for the garden. Generally, I like to keep things natural, but I'm also trying to add a few whimsical pieces occasionally that blend well with my garden style. 

That's how it dawned on me to paint it.

First I washed it/scrubbed it lightly and let it dry in the sun. I didn't bother with sanding. I wanted the rough look to remain.

Then I painted the front, back and sides with Rust-Oleum primer paint 'Espresso' that I already had on hand. 

I used a fairly dry 2" flat brush and swiped some blue strokes across the front slats to shabby it up a little. (I forgot to get a photo of that step).


Next came the fun part. I painted part of a simple sunflower in one corner. Again, I used acrylic craft paints I had on hand.  When it was dry I sprayed a coat of Rust-Oleum Clear Protective Finish over the entire front. I have no idea if that will help it last a little longer. It couldn't hurt right?
To secure it upright I *hung* it on two 4' rebar stakes anchored into the ground and fastened to the back side with cable wires. This should keep it from getting rocked by wind or animals that decide to crawl on it. Uh-hem ... that's you pesky squirrels!
I was hoping the pallet would hide my wood/trash pile back there behind it. Not from this angle. LOL

The next day I happened upon these tin pots at Home Depot while looking for something else. They had metal brackets available that fit around them for hanging. YES! I'm going to get a glimmer of a vertical garden after all.

Paint is my friend! I love paint. Paint will change your world in a matter of minutes or even seconds sometimes. Rust-Oleum 'Paprika'. It's not too red. It's not too orange. It's just what I wanted!


I potted up some very low maintenance plants (Donkey's ears succulent, Peperomia, and a fern) that I won't have to worry with watering every other day. There you have it... a mini vertical garden is born.


The new garden art addition happily married into the seating area at the back of the garden. Cheap art too! What about you? Do you have a piece of wood or fence or pallet you could upcycle into garden art? I didn't know I did either. Next time I think I won't be so quick to want to throw away. :-)

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September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway