When I first saw the Tarpon house one of the things that inspired me was the adjacent lot that was undeveloped and would be a blank palette for the creation of a new garden in the tropics. It has been slightly more than a year since I purchased the property but my attentions have been everywhere with little time to lay the foundations of the new garden. As much as I have done has been to plant within the existing fence enclosure and to add a few plants outside the perimeter in the anticipation that in a near future they would be free standing in the new garden. Well, the wait is over!
I have taken the house interior as far as I can for now and the time is ripe for the garden. The weather is wonderful. In summer to work in the garden is to exhaust yourself in vain; to work in the garden now is invigorating and good exercise. The first thing I had to do was to have compost delivered that would serve to improve my sand dune. I say sand dune because the garden, if I haven't said so before, I live on a pile of sand. Somehow, lawn has managed to take hold and eventually other things have grown, but when you remove the lawn there is little else like the rich soil I have experienced elsewhere. The breakdown of the compost will add some character to the sand and hopefully continue improving with more compost to follow.
I propose to introduce about a foot or more of compost throughout to the plantings beds that will enrich this sand base. In New Jersey I lived on top of a clay pan. A clay pan is an area that is not permeable to water and often floods but clay soils are very rich in nutrients. Eventually clay pans may deteriorate due to amended soils that improve the organic profile or its makeup.
As with all projects there are always people to be satisfied. It was not surprising to go before city hall and request permission to put up a new fence to be told that because I live in the "historic neighborhood I would be required to keep up the materials that were in place on my property. I was asking to put up chain link along my side neighbor and keep the plastic pickets up front. The chain link would have allowed plants to grow and populate the fence as a vegetative barrier. Well, that would not do for the city who wanted to make sure that my historic property be developed according to the accepted standards that does not allow for mixing up materials. All around me houses are comprised willy nilly but arguing gets you nowhere. It is also necessary to point out that a neighbor, a block away, has added a toilet to his dormer that is free floating, where you can see the piping exit the dormer running through the roof. Not a pretty sight. The town is trying to get permitting under control and it works to ensure that in the Historic District is diligently enforced. Meanwhile a block away and out of the historic district you can have a nuclear reactor emitting fission without control, but nobody cares, because it is not historic! Well, it is not exactly like that but you get my point.
So the new vinyl fence went in without a hitch and I finally met my neighbors as I was putting up the fence. For a year I have lived there but they were very private and I had not ever seen them up close to get or be able to say "Good Morning". Once the solid white fence came up they came out to inspect it and introduced themselves. They asked me how I was liking the house and the neighborhood. I reminded them that I had moved in over a year ago!
I removed the fence that bordered the sideyard and had four trucks fully loaded of compost dumped in my backyard over time I will distribute the compost and the garden will be quite remarkable. Everyone who passes by wonders if I have a little too much. The compost came from the neighboring town of New Port Richey which seems to produce more compost than their residents can use. So when I contacted them and asked if I could get some compost months ago for another project in the front of the house they said "Sure". I was pleasantly surprised that it was free and delivered and asked how that worked and they simply had too much and had to find people to take it off their hands. They don't come and deliver a cubic feet for you, but if you are willing to take 12 cubic yards, they will do it. I took 50 cubic yards and another neighbor of mine who has a whole empty lot took 62 cubic yards. So that should help them with their piles of steaming compost. For now it looks, my side yard looks like an unkempt bordello (not that I have ever been to one!).
Just as I was finishing the fencing a local nursery had a 50% off sale. I was surprised that in this time of year when the weather is perfect nurseries try and empty their stocks fearing some cold snap that might damage the potted inventory. Needless to say I could use a few plants so I got the new foundations plantings that one day will shelter and screen the side yard. They now look like lollipops but that will soon pass.
It was a close call trying to get the garden planted and mulched before leaving for the Christmas holidays. Now as I write this from Tryon, North Carolina I look forward to returning to see how it all looks and how much it no doubt has grown. The weather in Tarpon has been in the 80's and with some irrigation that a neighbor is providing the garden should be on its way. Happy Gardening!