Saturday, December 14, 2013

DIY Stepping Stones and Paths

One of my favorite outdoor projects is playing in concrete and making my own stepping stones.  Your creativity mixed with some basic knowledge is all you need to come up with some awesome and unusual paths for your garden.

Click here for some inspiration, ideas and tutorials.

Click here for more inspiration!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Secret garden

This part of Westbury Gardens in Vermont reminds me of a secret garden.  I've always wanted a little pathway that leads to a secret garden in my garden and in my mind, it looks very similar to this one . . . except mine would have more color and maybe a water feature along the side.

Very cool idea for a large property!

For more photos featured on the Fine Gardening website click here.

Click here to visit Westbury Gardens' website.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Around the garden world in 365 days

Container gardens like the one in the photo is what we are striving to do in our garden that includes lots of concrete and container plantings.  Much easier maintenance than the wild look we currently have.  Love the tropical feel of this colorful garden vignette!

This photo was taken at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Day #32 in "Around The Garden World in 365 Days," Barbara's fabulous blog series that takes you on a trip to a different garden every time with lots of photos and inspiration for your garden.  Click here for Day #32 where you will find many more photos from the gorgeous and inspirational Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Barbara Peake Wise describes herself as a plant nerd who works for Landscape Service, Inc.  You can also follow her on Twitter.  She is one of my favorite garden enthusiasts on the internet!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Containers in the garden

Daniela Baloi's vegetable garden in Hudson, Ohio was recently featured on Fine Gardening's website.   All I can say is that I'm jealous and would love the fenced garden area in my own yard.

Although the garden is awesome and innovating, what caught my attention was this little sitting area with the awesome container planting.  What a great pairing of the container with the red handle and red flowers.  I love a garden with lots of different colorful and pretty spots to relax and enjoy nature happening in the garden.  Container plants are excellent for these areas!

I love those large coffee cup bowls for serving pasta or salad, but it is super cute in the garden!  I've seen them at closeout stores and they are very inexpensive.  Don't forget to drill holes or add lots of rocks to the bottom of the container for good drainage.

Click here to check out Daniela's newly fenced veggie garden.

Photo source is

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

What to do with a fallen tree?

When nature hands you lemons . . . thank God you and your family are safe and you still have a roof over your head.

I don't remember such a rainy summer with fierce lightening that travels with the thunderstorms.

These thunderstorms were too much for our huge oak tree that is dangerously close to the house.  One of the monsterously huge limbs must have gotten too heavy from all the rain and old age.  The trunk is as big around as a normal oak tree.  I always wanted to hang a swing from it, figuring it was sturdy and never going anywhere.  Wrong!  

The casualty is the back storage shed and outdoor patio.  The building itself and the patio roof looks crumpled like an accordion.  My heart is broken . . . I love that outdoor patio, not to mention we don't know what is going on inside, where so many of my treasures and memories live.  We are still dealing with the shock of that huge tree limb falling . . . the damage that has been done inside is already done, so I guess it has to be one shock at a time.  

I'm so grateful it did not fall on the house and we are safe.

Photos of the fallen tree and damage will be posted on the blog "My Florida Paradise" . . . this post is about solutions.  

We plan on using as much of the wood as we can on various projects and lots of material for the compost pile.  I went on an internet search expedition and found the most awesome path I have ever seen!  Along with lots of tables and benches, this will be one of the projects for sure.  I'll be listing more projects as I find them so we will have the instructions and ideas handy and hopefully help someone else who was handed lemons from nature.

Click here for the original blog post

Click here for an update a year later

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Outdoor shower

When it comes to the garden, there are many projects that are still dreams and ideas in my head . . . an outdoor shower is on the top of that list!

From Sunset Magazine . . .

This weekend project has three basic parts: two wing walls and a center pole with the plumbing attached. 

Time: One weekend (4 hours of labor, plus drying time for sealer)

Difficulty: 3 (on a scale of 1–10; requires modest woodworking skills)

Cost: About $170

Click here for the full article, including instructions and material list.

Awesome collection of backyard projects!  

Click here

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gardening tips from a master gardener

As a long time fan of Home and Garden Television (HGTV), the programming changes that have pushed my favorite gardening shows off the air continue to upset me.  Apparently, ratings for gardening shows fall short of the television executives' expectations and shows geared toward the real estate market have taken over the majority of their programming schedule.  Oh well, who am I to question the television experts?

One of my favorite gardening shows was Gardening by the Yard with Paul James.  He's a quirky guy with lots of gardening knowledge.  I sure do miss his shows and decided to do a search on him and found his website.  Of special interest was an article about the demise of Gardening by the Yard, according to Paul James.  Click here to go to the article.  Check out his website while you are there . . . although it does not seem to be updated regularly.

I found another article on the HGTV website featuring gardening tips from my favorite gardening guy . . . the link appears at the end of the article if you care to read more of the older articles from Paul James.

1. To remove the salt deposits that form on clay pots, combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let the pot dry before you plant anything in it.
2. To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you'll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can't collect beneath them. Then, after you've finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.
3. To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.
4. Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you'll already have a measuring device in your hand.
5. To have garden twine handy when you need it, just stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole, and set the pot upside down in the garden. Do that, and you'll never go looking for twine again.
6. Little clay pots make great cloches for protecting young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes.
7. To turn a clay pot into a hose guide, just stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.
8. To create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants.
9. Got aphids? You can control them with a strong blast of water from the hose or with insecticidal soap. But here's another suggestion, one that's a lot more fun; get some tape! Wrap a wide strip of tape around your hand, sticky side out, and pat the leaves of plants infested with aphids. Concentrate on the undersides of leaves, because that's where the little buggers like to hide.
10. The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don't pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you'll be amazed at how the plants respond to the "vegetable soup."
11. Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries. A light sprinkling of about one-quarter of an inch applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side.
12. Use chamomile tea to control damping-off fungus, which often attacks young seedlings quite suddenly. Just add a spot of tea to the soil around the base of seedlings once a week or use it as a foliar spray.
13. If you need an instant table for tea service, look no farther than your collection of clay pots and saucers. Just flip a good-sized pot over, and top it off with a large saucer. And when you've had your share of tea, fill the saucer with water, and your "table" is now a birdbath.
14. The quickest way in the world to dry herbs: just lay a sheet of newspaper on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, then roll up the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will be quickly dried to perfection. What's more, your car will smell great.


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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fabulous Water Features

This type of water feature is way on top of my wish list . . . and has been for many years.  

Water features can be a large, elaborate and expensive set up or can be very simple and inexpensive.  The possibilities are endless, but where do you start?

Cost has been a huge inhibitor since my ideas tend to be very elaborate.  We have a very large city property that used to be very wild and natural, yet well maintained that has grown into an urban jungle due to pesky health problems getting in the way, it seems to me that a larger water feature, once constructed, should prove to be just what we need.  Much research needs to be done and it isn't a project slated for this year, but the planning stage for the back yard needs to get started.

In the meantime, our front yard is a clean slate begging for something special.  A very simple and inexpensive water feature would be perfect, combined with raised beds with large paths.  The object of the project is awesome curb appeal with little maintenance.  

My plan is to document the before and after transformation on my website.  We are getting a late start this season, but it is never too late to transform a landscape in Florida.

This website, The Family Handyman, is where I am starting . . . it has lots of inspiration and instructions.

Click here for my photo source . . . more inspiration!

HGTV and DIY Network are excellent resources for ideas and instructions.

Feeling overwhelmed like me?  Start with a small project and work into the larger projects as you gain expertise. 

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tips on growing basil

Our basil seedlings are growing like weeds!  We are going to have more basil plants than I have ever grown at one time :)  One can never have enough basil and I love giving them to friends and family to enjoy . . . ready to pinch and use in cooking.

Have you ever had a homemade pizza with just a little garlic and basil, topped with mozzarella or provalone cheese?  I can make a meal of it!

I've reposted the following information several times, but it is great information for anyone wanting to grow one of the easiest plants ever.  

Basil just loves to be pinched regularly and will reward you with thick bushy plants that will provide you with more than enough basil for your personal consumption and lots to give away to friends and family.  It is easy to dry and will last forever when stored properly (I use big glass jars with a tight fitting lid.)

Here is some information on growing basil from The Essential Herb Garden website.


Sow the seeds in spring in seed trays and keep indoors or in a heated greenhouse until the seedlings reach the four-leaf stage. Keep well watered at all times whilst the seedlings are growing.
The seedlings can then be easily handled and transplanted out into pots or containers or directly into the garden in a well drained soil, where they can continue growing with the benefits of all the nutrients from the soil.
Plant the seedlings 50cm apart and keep shaded for the first few days and water regularly throughout to ensure healthy growth.


Although basil likes sun, it must be planted in a sunny, sheltered spot away from wind and draughts.
Don't plant basil until all risk of frost has disappeared. During midsummer basil likes semi-shaded growing conditions.


Growing basil between tomatoes and other vegetables in the greenhouse or garden will benefit both the basil and the other vegetables.
Basil will enhance the flavors of the other vegetables growing around it and will also deter insects.
Growing basil in your garden will attract bees and butterflies if planted outside.
Growing basil under glass in a cool summer is a good way to ensure a lush and healthy plant and supply of leaves. Remember though, if you are growing basil in your garden, you should not plant it next to rue.


Basil can quite easily be grown inside as long as it has a light and sunny spot on the windowsill or shelf in the greenhouse. If you keep the plants indoors you should be able to keep your basil growing well into the cooler months.


Once the basil has grown to a height of about 15cm, you can start to take off the top sets of leaves. Pinch them out to the next set of leaves growing below. This will ensure a continual growth and should encourage a healthy, bushy basil plant.
Prune your basil every 2 or 3 weeks to ensure a healthy bushy plant.
Basil will continue growing throughout the summer and can ultimately reach up to 60cm in height. If the basil is left to flower, it will produce long spires of small, white tube shaped flowers.
To encourage a supply of leaves throughout the summer and autumn, pinch out the buds as soon as they appear.


Depending on the variety of basil you are growing, the juicy, oval leaves will grow up to 10cm in length and will be a glossy rich green. Basil is highly aromatic with a strong scent reminiscent of cloves.
Basil plants will cross pollinate very easily so if you are collecting and planting your own seeds year after year, you should notice some slight variations which makes growing basil an interesting hobby and pastime.

Get out and get your hands dirty!!

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to Build a Flower Tower

The possibilities are endless with these flower towers . . . different shapes, sizes, different plants, herb garden . . . love it!

What you will need:
  • Flower pot of your choice (For this I will use a 13 inch pot)
  • 4-foot galvanized wire fencing with 2-inch x 4-inch openings
  • Landscaping Fabric or Movers Stretch Plastic
  • Zip Ties
  • Garden Spade
  • Sharp Knife
  • Potting Soil
  1. First you are going to want to take the wire fencing and shape it so it will make a circular shape. You need to make sure that it is not too wide; it needs to fit in the bottom of your pot. Use zip ties to hold the wire in place.
  2. Put a little bit of planter soil in the bottom so it can help hold the wire frame in place.
  3. This next part can be a little bit tricky and it just depends on what is easiest for you. You need to wrap the wire frame with the fabric or plastic. It does not matter if you wrap the outside because the flowers should grow enough that it will hide it. You can use the zip ties to hold this in place or tape.
  4. Make sure that the wire frame is centered to the pot and where you want it to be. Then pour the potting soil into the top of the frame until it is full.
  5. Fill in the pot around the wire frame but not all the way just yet. The reason for this is that some soil will fall from the tower when you are planting the flowers and this is just mainly to help keep things cleaner.
  6. Get a sharp knife and start cutting the fabric that is surrounding the frame in the “box like slots.” I used a box cutter but I know people have used scissors and pocket knives. Just a personal preference.
  7. Once you cut out a small space in the square gently insert the root ball of the flower in the soil. Be gentle that you don’t damage the roots but firm enough that the plant won’t fall out.
  8. Add some flowers to the top of the tower!
  9. Fill in the rest of the pot with soil and water the plant. When watering the plant you want to water it enough that you can compact the soil but not so much that you shock the plant.
This project comes from the blog Mom To Bed By 8 . . . 
to go to the original article which includes
 more photos, click here.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Beautiful container plantings

Seems like I love container planting more and more as time goes by.  I love being creative and taking inspiration from other gardeners to come up with my own creations.  

Although there are many wonderful websites to inspire us, my latest favorite is Fine Gardening Magazine's website.  Of course, the website is my photo source!

Today's inspiration is a glimpse of Chanticleer Garden.

Looks like this gorgeous and unique container is more of a mini raised bed, put together with pieces of slate, cut in various sizes.  My idea is to make the pieces made of concrete . . . the forms would be super easy to make.  

Two of them placed diagonally would be awesome looking!  Wouldn't it?  I would love to see this exact design on a larger scale, placed diagonally, as the focal point of a front yard.  Awesome!  We are looking for ideas for raised beds as an alternative to way too much grass in the front yard and this design would be great.

Color variations are endless by using concrete tints or by painting them.  Anyway, love the design!  Who knows?  We may gather the energy to get this project done after the huge tree stump comes down!

Want to see more from Fine Gardening's article and many
 more ideas for container planting?  Click here

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cranberry Hibiscus

We have officially started working in the carport jungle getting it cleaned up and organized.

The basil, tomato and pepper seedlings are thriving and we are so excited about getting our vegetable and herb gardens going.  For color in the garden, I have planted rainbow coleus, red salvia and marigold seeds this week.

Today we cut down a pesky cranberry hibiscus that came up out of nowhere in a pile of leaves on the carport . . . in the way!  The plan is to do a mass planting of them in the front yard since they thrive in the full sun and other than keeping them pruned to avoid a leggy plant, they are really maintenance free.  I cut the plant up into a ton of pieces and got the propagation process going.  I've never tried propagating them before, but after doing some research online, they seem to be a very hardy plant which propagates easily.  I also gathered many seed pods that I plan on getting started in the next couple of days.

Since we are gardening on a tight budget, the more plants we can use from existing plants, the better.

Want to know more about the Cranberry Hibiscus?
  Here are some links:

A previous post about these gorgeous plants from this blog.

A plant guide and discussion about this plant from Dave's Garden.

All about the Cranberry Hibiscus plant from the University of Florida.

Are you getting your hands
 dirty in the garden yet?

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Elegant Garden

The elegance of this garden immediately caught my attention when I was browsing through Fine Gardening's garden photo section for some garden inspiration.  

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Nuffer via Fine Gardening

Since our property is so large and we really don't want to be a slave to the garden as I have been in the past, the general thinking has been to design raised beds around large paths.  Barbara's garden in upstate New York is exactly what has been going through my mind.  Click on the Fine Gardening link to read the entire article featuring her garden and more photos.

An excerpt from the article . . .

"This garden is a raised bed. The shape is a 20-foot-diameter circle with a gravel path at ground level leading to a fountain in the center of the circle, and continuing to a bench. The outer perimeter of the garden is a 2-foot-tall stone wall. The interior wall is pressure treated 1 x 6s cut into 3-foot lengths and sunk into the ground 12 inches. Since portions of this wall are curved, we used metal strapping nailed to the back of the pieces of wood to hold it in place. They are slanted slightly back towards the bed. The shape is really pretty in winter as the sun sets behind it. A natural stream is down the hill behind the garden so you hear running water as a backdrop.

We lined the bed with black plastic with some drainage holes punched in it. My soil mixture included 6 cubic foot bags of coarse texture vermiculite. We mixed this with potting soil that contained lots of peat. This was suitable because I was planning to use acid-loving plants. We also mixed in two parts of topsoil. The proportions were one part vermiculite to one part potting soil to two parts topsoil. The bed was well moistened and mulched with finely ground cedar bark."

Awesome inspiration!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Raised Beds

Need some inspiration for your spring garden?

Click here for an awesome gallery of raised beds!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Bamboo accents and incredible lighting

This yard reminds me that you can decorate the outdoors as you do the indoors.  Love the uplights to highlight the awesome bamboo accents.  Love this yard!

Click here to see more photos.

Photo: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz via Fine Gardening
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Thursday, March 7, 2013

We are gearing up for the tomato growing season and waiting for our seeds to arrive in the mail.  Although we should have started growing the seedlings mid-January, it is better late than never!

As the Captain and I have done research on growing tomato plants, I have been updating my tomato page for my website,

Check out my updated tomato page if you are growing your own tomatoes this season.  I love visiting websites to get inspiration and great tips on how to grow the best tomatoes possible.  

Click on the graphic to go there . . .

For Florida gardeners and those who live in similar
climates, check out my Florida page too.

I'm so excited about getting my hands in the dirt again!!

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Container gardening in the landscape

Love the simplicity of the container plants in this gorgeous Tennessee garden.

Fine Gardening has featured Jeff Calton's beautiful garden, which is a mix of landscaped areas with lush lawns, trees, lots of blooms and container gardens.

Click here to go to the article . . .

Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Calton via Fine Gardening

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Bromeliads

The massive plantings of bromeliads with their red blooms provide a burst of color in this gorgeous tropical scene.  The water garden runs along a pond that is complete with fish, turtles and different types of birds who love to hang out in this area.  Do you blame them?  

This is one of the most serene and beautiful scenes at Busch Gardens!

We will get more photos from this area next time we visit!

The landscapers at Busch Gardens have cleverly used a mass planting of similar bromeliad plants in yellow and red to really provide that pop of color, bordering them with another mass planting of a variegated variety.  They bring excitement to an otherwise green raised bed.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tropical Plants in Containers and Raised Beds

Love the mix of bromeliads with other tropicals in these container plantings at Busch Gardens Tampa, where the grounds are in colorful full bloom.  Spring!!!

The topiaries are gorgeous mixed in the tropical plant beds!

Love the statues mixed in the landscaping!

We took lots of photos!

Theme parks and parks are awesome places to get inspiration for your garden!

I'll be adding a new page to my website soon for photo albums.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Claude Monet's garden in Giverny

Photo from
Claude Monet's garden in Giverny
Courtesy of Maria Fleming via Fine Living Magazine

Fruit trees don't have to stand alone!  
I love the mass planting at the base of these fruit trees  . . . looks like impatiens to me, a plant that I have used extensively in my garden to liven up boring spots in the shade.

Find a flowering plant that works in your climate and fill in those boring spots in your garden!

Check out more photos of Claude Monet's spectacular garden . . . click here.

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