Thursday, June 12, 2014

Living: What I did Tuesday: a Surprise Garden

In  May,  I  started planning a garden  for  my  Mother.  I  wanted  it  to be a surprise.  She  lives  more than  200  miles  away  from  me  so  I needed some  help  to  pull  this off.
Final  garden  sketch

The  first  thing  I  did  was  get  pictures of what my  mom's garden  currently  looked  like.  I  was trying to  go  off of  Google map  images  first.  my  brother assisted  me  with that  part.
Taken  on the morning  we  started  at 9:28 am

The  next  thing was  trying to figure out what  kind  of  plants would  be best.  Since  I am  doing  native  Florida  plants  in  my  garden,  I  decided  that  was the way  I was going  to  go  for  her  surprise  garden.  I  needed  help  because  I  can't  just  get  Florida  native  plants anywhere.  This is when  I  contacted  Troy  from  Springer Environmental   in Plant  City.  He  was  amazing  and  got the plants and the Pine Straw  bales  I needed to do  most  of the work.  He  delivered the materials  the morning of the surprise.

Okay  now  the  tricky part,  how  was  I  going to  make the day  seem  normal  so  I  would  have  time  to  do the garden  with  my brother  and  have  my  mom  come  home  to  a whole  new garden?  That  was  easy,  so  I  thought  after a conversation  I had  with my  mom.  She  volunteered  at a Thrift  Store  every  Tuesday and Friday.  When  the time  started  to  get  closer  I  casually  asked a week  in advance  if  she  was  going to the thrift  store  tomorrow  (meaning Tuesday).  She  was  like  no  I  used  to  do  that on  Wednesday  but  I  don't  do that  anymore.  Oh  no  I  got the  day  wrong and  now  that window  was  closed. "Tomorrow (meaning Tuesday)  my  friend  picks  me  up.  We  do this  every week.  We  go  shopping." she  said.  Oh  yeah...  I  have  got to get  this  friend's  number  and  make  sure  the following  week  the same  thing  is  sure to  happen  again.  My  brother  gets  the number.  I  call Cathy  and  explain  that I need mom  out of the house from  about  9:30  to 1:30pm  and  to  keep  it a surprise..  She  was  great..Cathy..  kept  it a secret.

All is  set,  Troy  from  Springer is  scheduled  to arrive  at  10:30  to 11 am  to  drop  off the materials.  I  book my  hotel  to arrive a day  early  to  be  able to  scout  Home Depot and Lowes  for  soil, mulch, and supplemental  plants.  Plus  I  got  to  relax  for the next  day  which  I  knew  would  be  exhausting  but  I  had  no  idea it  would  beyond  hot  and  beyond  exhausting at the time.

Tuesday I  woke  up  early and  made  my  way  to  Lowes.  I  picked  up a  few  plants.  Then  I  went to the Home  Depot  and  got  more  plants  and  5  bags  or  garden  soil and  five  bags of  mulch.  The  car  was packed.  Included  in the things  I  had  brought  with me  were  cement  bricks  with  Sonja and  Zane stamped  into  them ( part  of  our pet  memory  circle  we  did  the last  time  my  mom and I  did  a garden project  together)  plus  other bricks  with  Surprise  Garden  stamped into  them.  I  sat  in the Home  Depot  for  awhile  waiting for  my  brother's  text.
names for  memory circle added - didn't  have the same  color  cement  as before

surprise garden  brick placed before we changed the surrounding bricks

So the time  was around  9 am  and  I was driving  around  my  mom's  neighborhood  when I saw  that someone  was  throwing  out  bromeliads.  I  jumped  out of the car and  picked  the best  ones  I could  salvage  and  threw  them  in the car.  I  drove  around  the corner and  parked  in  someone's  driveway  and  waited.  My  brother sent a text. Cathy picked  up  mom at  9:15am!!  I  drove  around  the corner  to mom's  house  saw  Robbie  instantly, at the end  of the driveway.  I  drove up  and  got  out  the car.  No  hugs  no  hellos,  I  hadn't  seen  my  brother in  years..  It  was  go  time  there  would  be plenty  of time for  hugs  later.  I said  get the newspapers..  and  it  was ON!!!! Could  we  pull this  off in  4  hours  during 100  degree  blazing hot sunny day weather?

My  brother was already warned  through  our  previous  conversations  that I was going to   delegate the work  to him  multi-task  style.  I  had  him  get  out the newspapers,  unpack the car,  re-organize the memory  circle and add the new bricks,  do the surprise  garden circle  and  add the new bricks  and  start  weeding the two  circles.  I  started  to  place the plants  I  into the places  where  the holes  were going to be  dug and I started  on planting and rearranging the bromeliads  ( my  arms  got  cut  up  those  things  are sharp-bromeliads).

Meanwhile, my  brother  way  laying  down  newspapers  to  cover the grass  for the pine  straw  path and  digging the holes and  transplanting.  It  was  so  hot and both of  us  were getting sun burn.  At  one  point  we  both  we  getting  "the  dizzies" so  we  took  a long  break.

my  brother working hard in the hot sun

When  we  were  almost  done,  I  took  another  picture.
almost done

The garden  really  doesn't look  like  much  from the front.  It  is the view  from the garden  bench  that  I was designing  for.

the next  day  in  morning  light

view  from the garden bench
So  my  mom's  friend  drives  up  exactly  at  1:30pm.  My  brother and I  cleaned  up  outside and organized things  and  were  resting  inside.  My  mom sees  the  car  (my  husband's  car)  she  doesn't  recognize  it.  My  brother  inside  with  me  looking  out the  front  window  says, "  She  didn't notice the garden."  She  walks  inside  and  we say  "Surprise!"  See  my  mom  knew  my  brother and I were up to  something and  it  had  to do  with the garden.  But  I  was  visiting  her  a week  before  I  told  her I was coming and  I  was driving  my  husband's  car  not  my  car  that  she  would  recognize.  My  brother  says,  "Did  you notice  something  outside?"  We  walk  her  outside..  She  still  doesn't  notice.  Then  my  brother  says,  "The Garden."  We  did a walk  through  and  she  really  loved  the way  the pine  straw broke  up  the  grass.  the  next  day she  called  my  aunt  and  we  did  another  walk  through.  It  had  rained  so  everything looked  revived!  My  brother and  I were extremely  sun burnt  and exhausted.  All of it  worth it!  My  brother  finally got  his  hug and  I  thanked  him,  especially since  he  did most  of the work.  Now  only  if  my  garden  looked this good!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Appreciating: what I learned yesterday

Miracle  fruit  is  amazing  and  when  I  first  came  across  it  I  thought...  Wow  what  a great  way  to  get  kids (and adults) to  eat  healthier!  Why  don't  more  people  know  about this.  It  helps  cancer patients  and  people  with  diabetes too.  What is  miracle  fruit  and  what  does  it  do  to  be a miracle?  go  to  this  link  to  learn more

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Appreciating: Tuberosa

Ahh.  the garden.  Here is  the  native  Florida  milkweed  I  planted  in bloom.  I am  so  excited.  I have  seen  a few  Monarchs in the garden  as well.  Will  report  more soon.
Asc.  Tuberosa

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Appreciating: Butterfly weed

In previous post I talked about the Monarch butterflies and milkweed and then I found the seeds for the Florida native milkweed Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed). Well today I found someone who sprouts them and plans on selling them by the gallon. Oh, and I actually have some that I transplanted into pots. I plan on keeping you updated on my butterfly weed adventure.

Here is where you can get them:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Creating: Florida Native Gardening

Here is a video of the beginning of my Florida native plant experience. Now that i know about native plants. It is insane to think about all the destruction that has gone on in Florida and many plants are endangered just like the animals. I am starting my journey to be part of the solution.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Living: butterfly weed

Not so long ago I wrote about Monarch butterflies and feeling the urgent need to help. Well I attended a native plant sale last weekend and during a lecture the speaker said if we stayed until the end we would get native butterfly weed. The end of the lecture came and he said that the native plant society wanted it for a raffle. WHAT?! This was my way in, the seeds were already sprouted.... oh the tease of it all!! Today I was in Home Depot looking at the seeds and there they were asclepias tuberosa.. What you are kidding me? Now let's see if I can get them to sprout. Wish me well. For the love of the Monarch butterfly.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Living: What I learned yesterday

You have  heard  of  that saying  about learning something  new  everyday...  Well  I decided  I  want to blog as  many of these as possible this year.  The information  may not  be news to you, but  it is new to me  and  sometimes  I think  how  did I not  know this!!  I  didn't  know
Monarch  butterflies 
 are  endangered.  I  didn't  know  that  a major  reason  for this  is that  non native invasive  milkweeds,

Asclepias curassavica

can kill them.  Do not buy this milkweed for your butterfly   garden if you live in Florida. These milkweeds  are marketed through  big box nurseries and the like.

To help the Monarch  butterfly in Florida homeowners  need to be providers for the  essential milkweed the caterpillars  need to live.  Here is a website  that I found helpful.  I plan  on  getting some seeds soon  to  grow milkweed.

** both images are from wikipedia

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Living: Composting with worms

A few  days  after  getting  the worms  in the Worm  Factory 360, this is what  the bin  looks like.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living: worm composting

I just started  worm composting today.  I have a worm factory 360.  More updates  as I learn more and see what happens.  I added  Kale and tea bags to the composter.


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