If you ever saw the Money Pit with Tom Hanks or Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House with Cary Grant you will know some of the passion and the fury involved in building or restoring a house. I have been through this three other times and swear I will never do it again, but here I am with tools in hand on a new adventure that involves the creation of a new garden and the restoration of an old house.
solid brass escutcheon paint free waiting to be brushed and paint encrusted one
I have fixed lots of small details from window screens to remove hundreds of nails and patch all the walls. What they held, who knows? I have fixed the sash cords on some of the double hung windows. Windows that in part did not fully open or close and had the gap filled with caulking and newspaper. Real smart for a place crawling with termites! Somehow the quality of the original construction and materials are the only things that has made this house survive almost to its first century anniversary.
Nature is very bountiful here and you are surprised how fast things grow and how they get established with very little effort and in the strangest place. Palms in particular can established themselves in the most precarious places. This one above found the empty corner of my porch. It started as nothing more that a seed the size of a grape and I decided to take it out and transplant it to a useful site, but palms are tenacious. It would be a while before it tore the roof off as it grew.
This one had been in the ground maybe 3-5 years and had managed to build a stalk almost a foot thick with string roots coming out to establish a connection to the sandy soil and keep it in place when the hurricanes blow. I spent better part of two hours digging this one out in easy to work sandy soil, but the roots where everywhere! I also managed to take another one out between my neighbor and my back fence that would destroy the fence and even one more that had established itself in the drip line of my air conditioner drain. Clever plants.
On an errand I ran into what appeared to be a garden school. There I met my new friend Paula who runs the Gro-Group with her friend Claire. The two of them teach gardening, help with assorted projects and talks at the Library and other cultural institutions around Tarpon Springs on plants and horticulture. Part of the program teaches plant propagation and as a result they had a lot of very interesting plants. As I have said before when two plant people get together all the limitations that might exist in a traditional first encounter totally disappear as their bond for plants is so strong that a friendship quickly forms. Such was the case with Paula and me. She and Claire showed me around the small plot and all the plants that they had available. They had wonderful plants and were eager to find them a good home.
I had been told by the City of Tarpon Springs that they would plant Street Trees for me but only on the public right-of-way. This nixed the front of my house which has a sidewalk next to the curb and the planting area is on my land. Paula saved the day with two Live-Oaks (Quercus virginiana) that I hope will grow fast to shade the front of the property from the blistering summer sun.
Paula not only provided me with some wonderful and inexpensive plants but she also gave me a bunch and had her husband deliver the big stuff for free. She then lent me a tool as I broke my found shovel trying to remove one of the palms. I don't have it all in the ground but will before I leave to go home for Thanksgiving.
Box of mixed sedums and kalanchoes
Wonderful native begonia