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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.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Before and After: Part II

This particular project began in 2006. Isn't gardening like that? It's a growing thing. Ha!

As I work my garden much of the joy & satisfaction is in designing and improving as I go. We'll identify this area as the SE Corner of my back garden. In this post I'll continue my before and after series highlighting some gardening renovations/additions I've gotten my hands dirty with since January 2008. Hoe & Shovel revels in the picture perfect weather of Florida winter and now spring.

So back to the SE Corner project.
I had a few goals in mind for this project when it began in 2006:

1) Firstly, was to remove the drake elm (obviously not pictured) that was growing here but was unfairly being crowded out by the oak trees.

2) To create a full-sun area where I could grow some plants that love direct sun. Most of my garden is either shady or partly shady.

3) To create a bit of architectural interest by using the bricks you see in the photo. This would hopefully provide more visual impact and draw the eye and some wandering feet further into the garden. All the bricks used here were formerly edged around a different large bed in a single layer-(they had served their purpose well there, too, but it was time for a change).

4) To add some large boulders/stones for texture and more visual interest.

side note: Florida doesn't harvest natural rock and stone of any interest. It all has to be imported which makes it a bit pricey so we have to go easy on these purchases.

Once the wall was built I hauled in 2 yards of dirt to fill in behind the wall and leveled it at a small existing berm beyond it. I also hauled (with 3 men helping- bless my family & neighbors) the stones placed among the plants that weigh 2 tons all together. Initially my plan was to extend the bed further back but I stopped short when I ran out of dirt and time.

Which brings me to 2007 Phase II of this project.
October 2007 I felt energetic about
finishing my original design. The potato vine needed more space to travel freely and I needed more space to plant even more sun-loving perennials (considered annuals in some zones).

Above: Once I sprayed the back side grass with round-up and dug it out I put in a butterfly bush, several lantana, moved the fountain grass back a bit away from the spreading plumbago, added some african iris, dwarf petunias and a border of variegated liriope.

Which brings me to 2008 Phase III
I never mind getting rid of barren, weak, or weed infested grass. But here the grass is quite fine. The problem: I am not fond of the mildew the wall seems to attract AND I wanted to soften the appearance of the stark wall just a smidge. I don't want to use chemicals to keep the wall free of mildew. SO, in February I decided to expand the bed in the front by using the lasagna method of layering newspaper over the grass rather than killing it with round-up. I'd heard about this method but not ever tried it.

To see the full scale 'how-to' on this method take a peek over at Mary Beth's Cultivating Paradise. She did it right. I actually had some dirt left over from my vegetable garden project so I only used dirt to pile over the wet newspaper- I wet mine after I laid it down. This method seems to have worked fine in this small area.
Above is a close-up of the area I created in front of the wall. I purchased three variegated Flax Lily Daniella Tasmanica Variegata and split them into 6. There are three Lavandula behind the lily. I may have to move them to a drier location but I can't tell yet. This soil is so rich it holds water fairly well. Once our nights warm up I will get a better read on the Lavandula's response to this location. And lastly, I sowed a patch of Zinnia seeds to create some height and hopefully help acheive the softening affect while blending into mildewy wall on first glance. Oh and there was the sod I moved to make a nicer 'green' path behind this bed.

Above is a broader view for the overall effect. After a very fine pruning, in just a few short weeks I can expect the Purple Queen and the chartreuse Potato Vine to be trailing happily over the wall. The blue plumbago behind it should be back in bloom. The Nile Lilies (Agapanthus) should be shooting up their tall stalks of blue purple pom-poms and the caladiums will provide variations of color. Beyond the bed the purple of the Princess flower and the red of the Jatropha tree will tower above for more color.
I think I'm finished with the SE Corner bed. I'm finally satisfied with the overall look. Oh, I'm sure I probably shouldn't say that here because before you know it, I could easily be hauling in some more dirt and digging away at more sod.
Isn't it always the way of a gardener?


  1. this is beautiful! Great job!

  2. What a great makeover. Even though it took a few years it came out wonderful. I'm glad you decided to cover up the mildew instead of using chemicals. You made good choices now that area looks very inviting.

  3. I loved following you around the garden, very nice make over.

    The layering method is my preferred method to deal with heavy clay, I can't even call it soil;)


  4. It really did add visual interest. Very pretty. We have large rocks everywhere up here.

  5. It looks so amazing!! Well done friend! I can't wait to sit and enjoy with you now that all the work is done!!

  6. Meems your project is turning out just great. The planting in front of the wall has really softened the look. It looks very rich layered like this. Good Job!

  7. I loved following the progression of your new and expanded planting bed! And your newspaper and soil "lasagna" looks like it worked perfectly. Jan at Always Growing says she adds soil as the final "lasagna" layer so she has something to plant in immediately. Thanks for linking to my post.

  8. Rachel: Thanks and welcome to Hoe&Shovel.

    Vanilla: Thank you- sometimes it's worth the process for all the fun there is to be had...

    Nancy: Glad you like the wall- it has to be "on purpose" in our part of the world to create any kind of levels- the earth is flat in Florida.

    Gail: And thanks for joining me.

    Robin: Oh to have large rocks everywhere or even large stones... would make that aspect of gardening so much easier. Oh well -we do have green all year. :-)

    Pat: Did I say all the work was done? Even so, I will take a break and sit and enjoy anytime YOU can take a break...

    Lisa: I'm glad you like it and I look forward to everything filling in with growth-- that's when I'll know for sure if I've acheived what I'd hoped.

    Mary Beth: You did so many more layers but this seems to have worked so far. I actually put about 6 inches of soil on top of the newspaper and let it sit for about 2 weeks before I planted.

  9. I so enjoyed seeing the whole evolution...of the garden project and the gardener (round-up to lasagne). Another benefit of blogging...we can learn so much from each other. Your "completed" project is just gorgeous!

  10. Leslie: Well I hope it will "get" gorgeous as it fills in but thanks for the kind words... I too love learning from the blogging world- it really is fun seeing what how each gardener manages their own space be it large or small.

  11. Pat yourself on the back, Meems. You must be delighted! A garden is a perpetual project and grows with our dreams. Thank you for sharing your 'Piece of Paradise' ...

  12. It's really beautiful Meems. I like the elevated bed a lot, and it looks so pretty with the plants spilling over the wall.

  13. Joey: My little paradise is an ever evolving place. Fortunately I can dream and plant all year long. Well, for the most part it is fortunate.

    Linda: Spilling over the edge could have been included in one of my goals. I was trying to satisfy the need for spilling albeit a faux spill with my man-made wall. Works for me.

  14. I love the curving line of your stone wall. I have a wall that I was considering putting a bed in front of in order to "soften" it. Great to see how good yours looks - now I know it's a good idea :)

  15. It looks great but maybe because we have the same 'eye'. I love the curved wall used to make a change in the grade. Flat is OK but now the yard has much more interest.

    Too bad you're so far away. I've got plenty of rock (not all between my ears)just for the picking. I've hauled boulders and sandstone slabs as far as 400 miles in my little pick up because the prices on Long Island made me dizzy. And I just had to add stone to the gardens I was working on.

  16. I have projects that last years also but, you are right, it is a 'growing' hobby! LOL The wall does just what you wanted it to do. It pulls your eye further into the garden and I love that variegated lily which adds so much interest. I have thought about trying the lasagna method but have not done so yet. Maybe this fall on one of the new projects.

  17. Gorgeous! I love your use of color...and you have the added benefit of living in a place where lush tropical surroundings are easier to come by...I saw that you had a link to Sanibel...I really loved visiting was the first place I saw dolphins...right close to the shore!

  18. I too like to evolve my original plans. It seems that I am forever tinkering with my landscaping designs. Someday I'll have to post my old garden and changes I made to it on my blog since I don't have any current projects that I can work on yet!

    Great job.

  19. Stone wall particularly nice - the planting too - taking before and afters are great and SO encouraging as you forget sometimes as to quite how far things have developed!

    Bonne weekend Miranda

  20. I like it !!!!, I like your choice of plants and the final look. I love doing big projects in the garden. My garden is a never ending project.

  21. Amy: Welcome & thanks for stopping by Hoe & Shovel. I'm glad you like the curve of the wall- I was really excited with that idea too. It makes a little bit of a lazy 'S' curve.It is interesting that at first just to have the wall was thrilling, then the wall seemed too stark and needed another something in front to break up the solidness.

    WiseAcre: Oooooh, if only ... I'd take you up on that offer!Safe travels to you on your trip out of town this week.

    Layanee: And I have so many more of those projects in my head. The bed right across from this one is calling for a new "bump out" curve but it looks like I won't get to it until the fall. The warmer/humid weather is closing in on me which means I'll hold off on the digging for a while.

    JeanAnn: Thank you... color is so much fun and my theory in the garden is to use what you like and make it work together. Sanibel-Captiva Islands are a favorite haunt of mine and hubby's. Dolphins and many other forms of wildlife are plentiful there.

    Cinj: Would love to see your garden photos from projects completed. It might wash away all those winter blues and get you in the mood for the spring that is sure to come... very soon.

    Miranda: It's true the photos encourage our appreciation of progress.Blogging has really increased the photo taking... I only wish I had more from over the years to compare to... certainly won't be an issue from here on. Glad you like the project.

    Rusty: Never ending... isn't that what makes it all the more fun? Thanks for letting me know you liked the new plantings.

  22. Well obviously everybody else feels the same as me. What a lovely project! I love the before and after shots and the work you did was well worth all the effort, it turns out fantastic!

  23. melanie: thanks --I know for me a visual run down is all the better -I'm glad you liked the photo tour.


Have a blessed day,

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