Sunday, September 11, 2011

One More Time Into the Fray

Jatropha multifida, this beauty native to Nigeria and cousin to Poinsettia was given to me for the garden. As you can see it likes it here.

Yes, it is one more time into the fray. I say this because I thought that all the work that I had done in restoring my house and creating the Collingswood garden would pay off for a lifetime. Guess, what? I am lucky for I have had a chance to re-invent myself yet again and dispel any silly phrases such as this.

Yesterday, I received my insurance renewal and it made me think that the one year anniversary is coming up since I bought the Tarpon House. It has been slow going as I had two houses there for awhile and then that little job and the trying to sell the Collingswood house in the middle of our lovely economy. All that has passed and I had another birthday, closer to collecting Social Security - in spite of what that other moron Perry from Texas said about it being a Ponzi scheme.

I bought this house knowing that it needed a lot of work and I have been at it. I have taken out some of the improvements that the prior owner created and returned the house to its original configuration. A hallway that once connected the master bedroom to a nursery and bathroom was reassigned as a sort of a walk in closet. Unfortunately, some people need access to the bathroom in the middle of the night and don't want to go on a tour of their house to get there. The results has brought back some of the original beauty of this old bungalow.

In the process of this restoration I took on removing the paint from the original trim. Once a grey chocolate stain covered all the woodwork in the house. During what is no doubt a few prior inhabitants, the trim went from the original stain to mustard, to shocking pink, to multiple shades and coats of white paint. This is not that many coats given that the house will be a century old next year. Some heavy elbow grease has revealed the wondrous way that the woodwork defined this house.

The nursery had stayed as a child's room or even a sewing room when I first saw the house. Needless to say, I don't have need for a nursery but certainly enjoy the proximity that it has to my bedroom and bathroom and have allocated this room as a TV/Sitting room/Library.
Due to its small size and lack of closet it makes for a cozy arrangement that I enjoy. It also overlooks the rear garden which is another work in progress.

The master bedroom has also come a long way from the way it was. I had to modernize the closet to accommodate more items (given that I only have one closet now) but with nine foot ceiling you can be creative with all these closet accessories.

None of the rooms are finished as I am having some trim recreated by a mill in Tampa that caters to owners of historic houses. They have everything you can imagine by way of original trim, floors custom milled to your needs for the same price you buy cheap pine at Home Depot or Lowes. So much for the modern supplier!

But the story continues to be about the garden. In spite of all the time I have taken ripping out walls, fixing plaster, matching woodwork, I still prefer to garden more than anything. The tropical rains have been pounding us in Florida and you all along the Northeast with regular ferocity.

When it pours I either sit and read the paper in the long porch or work on another of my interior fixes. It will be a while before the inside comes together whereas the outside is shaping up fast. With all this hot humid and constant rain you can plant anything or make cuttings and stick them in the ground to see them flourish in a few weeks.

I have slowly removed nine hibiscus plants that bordered the front of the house and were stunted with over pruning to make them fit a location where they should have never been planted. I am slowly creating a planted front yard that will softened all the pavement around my corner lot. Initially I feared that the hibiscus would not survive due to the blistering heat and the shock I anticipated from transplant. I root pruned all these about two months ago and scaled the plants back to a third their size. Little by little I tested digging them up one at a time or as much heat as I could take outside before escaping to the air conditioned comfort of interior remodeling. Somehow I have discovered that Hibiscus are very hardy plants indeed. Far more than I ever considered mollycoddling them as interior plants in New Jersey.

With the arrival of the tropical rains most of the plants did not seem to even notice that I had transplanted them and started blooming. I also received some nice plants from my friend  Julia in for my birthday. What a great idea to send someone a pineapple plant!

One of the great recoveries is that of my Plumeria that has wondered the country like me since leaving Los Angeles. It bloomed a few times in a pot while in Collingswood, but never with any vigor. Here in the tropics it has found the home it was looking for. In spite of this miserable soil lacking any nutrients it is a survivor - more than that it thrives! It has come home and has started anew.

Today is September 11 and I think of all those people who got up that day and went to work like I did, but did not get another chance to do much more than make it into our collective memory as heroes of that insanity not so long ago. So, I am very lucky to get to go once more into the fray of living and enjoying life even if it means remodeling another house and creating another garden. Happy Gardening!


  1. Hi Rene,
    Your library looks so cozy! I want to see the view out that window. I love your porch, too! Happy Birthday!

  2. Shaping up nicely Rene....The porch is beautiful and the Den is terrific..No more Birthdays OK?

  3. Hooray for you! Everything looks just wonderful. Makes me want to hop in the car and come for a visit.

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