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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, February 7, 2010

Affordable Creation from a Designer Version

When old man winter visits with gusto and leaves a garden bleak and weary it is perfectly legitimate for the gardener to scurry off to the garden center for some colorful fillers.

With bright spots in mind to take the place of dull and dreary; winter blooming flowers will help grab our attention and keep us from staring at so much brittle-brown that dominates the garden otherwise.

But before we start planting there is some prep work to begin. You may remember the mention of measurements and stakes being hammered by the little one and helpers removing lawn grass.

It's a project I've had in mind for a few seasons. An area of grass I knew I wanted to remove eventually. There were design ideas to make it happen floating around in my head for a couple of years. The tropical pathway created last fall melded right into thoughts of this new space.

Then I saw a photo over at my friend Freda Cameron's blog, Defining Your Home Garden and Travel. The instant I scrolled through to it in her post, it all came together in my vision.

New Adirondack chairs had already been ordered in November.

I knew immediately what I could do to make my own space work for me.

With Cameron's permission, it became my inspiration photo.

What struck me initially was the circular brick surround and walkway. The circular brick being what I had envisioned for MY space but cost prohibitive at this time.

Now don't get too excited over those amazing flowers. It isn't the cottagy blooms that came to mind to duplicate. Although they would be glorious.

It was simply seeing that container garden in the midst of a circular design that confirmed to me how my area could work for what I had in mind and within my budget.

A sort of "design on a dime" version.

Getting started we find the center of the space and measure the area where the container would be situated. The container I had picked out is 39" wide and 18" deep. Then we measured out from the center to form the circle 6' in depth in every direction.

All of this was done prior to the hired man power showing up to take out the grass. Using a hose to lay out the outer boundary and then spray paint on the grass marked the outer limits.

With a machine like this handy for sod removal ~~grass could become endangered around here.

The tree is gone (far right side of photo), the grass is gone and the new container is put in place and leveled. And the man power is gone.

When thinking about a substitute for bricks laid so perfectly surrounding the circle and simultaneoulsy directing footsteps to adjoining pathways and seating areas it dictates that all materials used and plantings chosen will necessarily need to keep a low profile.

The grassy area above is the summertime view of that grassy area just removed; a time when garden life is brimming and overflowing. This image (August 2009) not only helps me remember the garden will return but it probably tells a better story of why the centered design must be kept low-lying. (Scrolling down to the very bottom of this blog you can view more photos of this area when grass dominated the landscape).

In lieu of bricks, I'll create my pathway in keeping with the tropical pathway this area feeds into on the far side.

Bales of pinestraw are purchased locally and easily spread for a naturalistic setting.

Keeping in mind ample passage space for carts and wheelbarrows consideration was given for enough room when measuring for the pathway. Placing the pine straw on the outside of the perimeter allows for passage on every side of the planted circle. I'll appreciate also keeping 18" out beyond the container cleared for re-planting and watering access.

Asiatic jasmine is a wonderfully versatile ground cover already in use in a few other locations around Hoe and Shovel. Trachelospermum asiaticum, Asiatic or sometimes called Asian Jasmine has a prostrate, dense growth and will eventually blanket the ground, forming a thick mat of shiny evergreen leaves. Remarkably, it does well in sun or shade. It is cold hardy below freezing and happy in our summer humidity.

This view of its usage in the front lawn gives you an idea of how it joins together carpeting the planted area. This cover is not especially fast growing but given some warmth and time it fills in nicely.

Once the 36 jasmine were planted a yard of pine fines was used to fill in as mulch between the plants.

Now for the fun and color. It's time to put some pretties in the big pot. A few were purchased but several are from cuttings and rootings. Shown here: Euphorbia leucocephala 'Silver Fog' (purchased)and english ivy (rooted from cuttings).

Other plants: Flax lily, lobelia, vinca, and violas (purchased); Iresine blood leaf, red penta, devil's backbone (from cuttings).

I used some left over grey cobblestone pavers for the base under my pot instead of rocks like in the designer version photo.

I'm still debating about whether to paint the new Adirondack chairs a bright color or leave the Cedar wood to age naturally which is the look I am partial to. Any thoughts?

By replacing the grass with plantings, this new area becomes the hub and connection point of four separate planting beds in the back garden. It will be a walk-through between them as well as a seating area and focal point located beyond the pool and screened lanai.

Patience is needed for the end result. It may prove necessary to buy more jasmine when they become available. I wiped out the garden center with this initial purchase. But it's a good start.

I do hope your gardening days arrive soon if they haven't already. We have more projects underway and more plants waiting to go into the ground. I bought my first-ever peach tree and the blooms are enough to swoon over. Stay tuned. Meems


  1. Looks great Meme. I think you have done well with it so far. If it were me, I would leave the chair natural... But what do I know??? I just like the overall natural-look myself.

    Good Luck..

  2. With two inches on the ground there aren't many thoughts of gardening right now. However I do love to see what all is going on in your garden. I have a picture of a space I like very similar to your space. I have an idea of where to place it. I just can't do it now. As to your aderondac (sp) chairs. I love them but if they are cedar I would vote to let them age. However, I love color too and it would be exciting to have a pop of color here. How is that for walking the fence? tee hee.

  3. Sorry Meems.... Didn't mean to spell your pen name wrong.. I must have had Meme on my mind!!!! ha

  4. Love photos with Adirondack chairs featured.

    Interesting how different eyes view a photo --I saw Cameron's kettle as a water feature. I hardly noticed there were flowers in it. Buffy enjoys the water too much to plant in mine.

  5. I found it so interesting to see "your inspiration" and your creativity in redesigning it for you. I'll look forward to the updates.

    I've cut back all the cordylines. My husband thinks I've lost my mind. Really, there were no other options. I'll just look forward with hope from here.

  6. Hi Meems
    Great project and I can see the end results will be amazing. You always manage to make everything gel. I look forward to seeing the border in months to come......BTW that large pot taking central stage is great, and the planting perfect......

  7. Betsy,
    I always lean toward the natural look with the gradual graying of the cedar chairs... but I was contemplating a bright green for a huge switcheroo. (no problem with my name).:-))))

    Well, you can dream and plan and conjure up all kinds of ideas with snow on the ground. I'm having a hard time deciding, too, so I completely understand.

    Nell Jean,
    Oh, believe me, I saw water feature as well... would love to have one in the exact spot... and maybe someday I will. But for now the container plant will have to serve as the focal point.

    I've had too much going on to cut back just yet... but next week the pruners will not get a rest.

    I realize the inspiration photo and the outcome don't look much alike... it was just one of those moments when Cameron's photo brought everything together in MY mind that was already swirling around up there. I have high hopes the ground cover will fill in and when spring is sprung I'll be happy with the results. You know I'll keep you posted. :-)

    Thanks for the vote of confidence... I can "see" the end result too... not so easy with that smattering of planting right now. I am happy with large pots... just about anywhere... how can you go wrong!

  8. What a great project. Unlike Lisa, we have about 2 FEET of snow on the ground, like some of our US neighbours, but it's okay. I'm not ready for spring at all, nor for spring projects, so I'm just enjoying others, such as this. I love affordable creations. Make me happy. It's going to be awesome, Meems, can't wait to see what a couple of months growing does to it all.

  9. I love this "new room" in your garden. This what I want . I have a birdbath instead of a round pot. I hope I can make it work.


  10. Jodi,
    Two feet of snow would zap all the inspiration right out of me I suppose. I'm looking forward to the time when this fills in, too. In the meantime there are plenty of things to keep me busy while they grow.

    Your birdbath is a great idea... you CAN do it and it will be beautiful!

  11. I think you'll have a wonderful garden room. Glad you were inspired by the photo. I take inspiration photos not so much for the same look, but an element of the look that speaks to me -- such as a shape, color, plants, hardscape and/or textures. It's all about translating an element that works for you and you're doing it well!

    I look forward to seeing your fabulous project when completed.


  12. Meems,
    Your project is looking really taking shape. I can identify with taking up the grass as I have been doing that by hand all week. I guess my project is more primative so instead of a hired man all I get is a tired man, Me. Looks Fantastic!

  13. It looks great! I really like colored chairs in other people's gardens, but I think in my own I would prefer natural aging.

  14. Meems: Great project! I want to picture myself having a space like the one you are trying to create. Reading a book, and have a cup of tea or coffee in the hand (maybe not in the summer :)). Of course, with a small garden of mine, that would be a dream... I love the pictures you took for the same area in 2008 and 2009 summer very much. But with additional setting you are designing now, I am sure it will be more beautiful. Keep us updated. Thanks for sharing!

  15. It looks wonderful, I prefer the chairs natural like most of the others.

  16. Well my goodness, you are at it again! How can you possibly call me the energizer bunny, lol. This is beautiful and oh how it will be even more so when filled in..I think from viewing your gardens the past year you might actually like some colorful chairs! I have two lime green ones and I love them!

  17. Hi Meems, you sure have been busy! I like the red Adirondack chair, but I'm also seeing two old time wrought iron park benches with wood slates, though they aren't as comfortable. I'm with you and am partial to gray. With color, I have always had good luck with the Feng Shui color balance philosophy - make sure all the colors opposite each other in the color wheel are represented, and the garden (or room) will feel 'right'. Looking forward to seeing what it will look like this summer.

  18. Meems, I love the container centerpiece, even though I'm not really into container gardening. A beautiful focal point! I appreciate your "design on a dime" approach, as I can never afford hardscape myself. Grass and mulch delineate my borders.

    We just removed a large amount of grass last year (where it was dying anyway) and replaced it with 34 asiatic jasmine plants, though they have not filled in quite as nicely as your photo yet. My husband just removed more grass today--a strip about 15' x 6' in which we planted a new camellia and will be adding some sort of groundcover and probably a couple of plants from our "baby nursery."

  19. It's all looking good Meems. I like the natural look also.
    A bit too cool yet for much garden work. Cold & my rods don't work well together.
    Will be glad to see your new garden come summer.

  20. oh meems how exciting this looks. i love, love, love the new container although i know that it had to cost you more than a dime.i do love the interpretation of the photo from cameron's garden. the asisatic jasmine will be perfect there instead of the bricks. how many chairs did you order? i was thinking if there were four you could paint two...and leave two natural. if you only ordered two maybe you should take a leap and paint them. i have just been painting a piece of old furniture to put in my half bath downstairs and i love it. another project to anticipate the final look of is such a spirit lifter.
    happy february.

  21. What about painting the chair the same color as the container? You could color echo some other reddish brown tone foliage and mulches.

  22. I thought I had commented on this post already, so if a 2nd one shows up from me just put it down to my easy distractibility. Anyway, love the new area. It is very creative and I love the beautiful pot. I think Rick's suggestion for color to echo the pot sounds perfect.

  23. Dear meems, it's going to be absolutely perfect when the plants fill in. Cameron's garden is inspiring and so is yours. Both of you are talented designers. I stained my cedar chairs for winter color. I think either would work in your garden. Let them sit for a season and just to see how they look...You can always paint or stain.


  24. Hi Meems~~ For a special eye-treat, I scrolled down to see your summer garden. FABULOUS! I love the dappled shade and how it enhances the greens and varying textures. Here in the PNW, your beautiful lawn would require constant summer watering so it's a special treat to see it growing so well in your garden.

    I love your "perfectly legitimate" trip to the nursery. Please tell my hubby. :)

    Your design looks great and next summer I predict you'll be spending a lot of time there. The container planting is perfection. Painting the Adirondacks? I think if you're going to be sitting in them a lot, you should paint them. I love the aged patina of wood and metal but it's not always as welcoming to sit in as clean, painted seats. Just my opinon.

  25. That's going to be a great spot, especially as a hub between other areas of your garden. You'll have fun changing out the flowers in your container seasonally. I'm partial to adirondacks painted chartreuse green because it goes with every flower color imaginable.

  26. Meems-My chin hit the keyboard!
    It is going to look great!Cannot wait to see it.
    I'd leave the chairs natural.I think that will fit in with the rest of your garden.But that's just me.Do what makes you happy.

  27. Cameron,
    Inspiration can mean so many things to each person. It was that planter that spoke to me. Thank you again.

    This is the first time ever I have hired someone to take up my sod... all previous sod was dug up by hand or shovel I should clarify. Good luck with your pation project.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. When I see painted chairs/benches in other bloggers' gardens I think they look great. But for mine I always go with the natural aging. Thanks for stopping by.

    We do often enjoy a cup of coffee in that area. I also like the mixture of lush green grass with planting beds woven among it. But I sense I'm gravitating toward a more naturalistic look and feel in the garden. Trying more and more to blend native plants, cold hardy plants, and less lawn maintenance all at the same time.

    Orlando Realtor,
    Thank you for logging your good opinion. I do seem to stick with the natural look everywhere else.

    Your green chairs look perfect in your garden. See what I mean... I see yours and I think I'd like some too... only I'm partial to more of a lime or chartruese green.

    I don't think there is a more comfortable garden chair than an Adirondack. We have two on the back lanai by the pool. They are definitely our favorite seating spot. Benches like you describe are a great option for the garden, too.

    I have so many visions for hardscape ... oh well, someday maybe... your jasmine will fill in and I think you will like it. Then you only have to trim it 3 or 4x's a year. I keep mine edged with an edger. I also have the variegated variety and like it very much.

    Maybe I'll get ambitious and transplant some into this new bed from the other areas where it is already filled in. I've done that before and it transitions well. 36 plants really isn't enough for this area.

    This cool weather and me get along great. It is so nice to work in it all day long and still have energy! I try to get all my big projects done before spring.

  28. Marmee,
    Got the container for a song... end of the year sale. woo-hoo. Ordered two chairs back in November and they have NOT arrived yet. Backordered. They should be shipped this week. My original intent was to order two back then and another two a few months later. I do want four in that location. Meanwhile the straightback chairs are still in use. You've got my curiosity up about the piece you are painting....

    Thanks, Mr. Brown, for the male view. It is a great suggestion as I am in love with the color of that container.

    You might want to know (as a newbie blogger) that Blogger has been known to EAT comments randomly. Thanks for your persistence and for coming back a second time.

    Cameron's garden is exquisite!

    I love your painted chairs! Yours and other's is what always turns my head and causes me to be conflicted. I like your suggestion to let them have their home and see what I think after a while of looking at them. You must be a counselor... :-)

    Thanks for taking a scroll down to the garden pics... things have changed a lot around here over time. Grass is much more maintenance intensive IMO than planted beds. Some would argue though. Regardless, we are losing the lawn for plants at a rapid pace. I've left enough grass for the kiddos to play.

    That's the color I was imagining... I'm just not sure about 4 of them painted that color. I'm already missing that tree that shaded this area. Had thoughts today of planting a live oak close by the empty space.

    Hmmm... since you've been here, your opinion counts double. :-)

  29. Looks pretty already Meems. You've done a great job demonstrating how we can beautifully and economically adapt a design inspiration to our own gardens. I love cottage gardens, but you have all those awesome tropicals in your climate, lucky you! I'm looking forward to seeing your new space mature.

    I'm sure the chairs will be great whether you finish, or let them age naturally. I don't think I've met an Adirondack chair I don't like, whether painted, stained, or au naturel.

    Silver fog euphorbia looks a lot like Diamond frost - one of my favorite container plants - so delicate and pretty, and so easy to start from cuttings too.

  30. Meems,
    Your new garden area looks great! I can't wait to see how everything looks once the plants are established. I think the adirondack chairs would look so neat if they were painted in bright colors...the color would add whimsy. Someday I'd like to have a few colorful chairs in my own garden. : ) I can just imagine how delightful those jasmine plants will smell.
    Happy day!

  31. You have the patience, dear Meems, and it's going to be beautiful when it all fills out!
    Very nicely done.
    I love the big planter with the Silver Fog Euphorbia and those perky pansies! Love the Iresine too. In fact, I love it all! Beautifully done!
    Cameron's garden is a gorgeous inspiration.

  32. Linda,
    The more I see this space the more I'm leaning toward 'borrowing' more of that ground cover from some of the other locations in my yard. It would help it fill in a little faster. I'll probably be too busy for a while to get too ambitious there. When the ground warms up and it starts growing it will remind me of its growth rate and I'll know better if it needs more of my attention.

    It's true... Silver Fog looks just like Diamond Frost. I'll be trying cuttings this spring.

    Whimsy is what I had in mind. Only I'm not sure it's the look I want. Sitting in that area when the confederat jasmine is blooming and the magnolia across the way is heavenly.

    You are kind, dear friend. With so many things going on in the garden at once patience is a must. The big planter is much more of a focal point this time of year when so many dead and wilty plants surround. It is surely to blend in when spring and summer perk up the plant life once again.

  33. Having been there, I can just picture this! It will be fabulous, as is everything there. You've got such a wonderful eye for making your already beautiful backyard even more so. Thanks for showing us the steps and how your thinking led you to this design. I like it! I'm partial to natural aging wood, too, but I also like brightly colored seating.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

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