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).
|my brother working hard in the hot sun|
When we were almost done, I took another picture.
The garden really doesn't look like much from the front. It is the view from the garden bench that I was designing for.
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!
|the next day in morning light|
|view from the garden bench|