Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We're on TV!

We were pleased to host Leigh Spann of Channel 8 for a yard tour last week. The segment will air Wednesday, May 26 twice between 5-7 a.m. and maybe again during the 5:30 p.m. slot (for those who aren't early birds).

Leigh and her cameraman were at our house for about an hour, interviewing me, Rick and our landscape designer, Lisa Strange. We love showing off our beautiful Bay-Friendly Backyard and hope that the publicity will inspire others to "Do Something Different" with their landscape. 

In other yard makeover news, we actually finished our front yard landscape last weekend, after two very long days of work in the heat. Still, compared with the backyard, which took about 10 weekends of labor, the front yard was like a downhill sled ride! Start to finish, including edging the borders and pathways, creating an auxiliary parking area of shell, cleaning up and trimming our existing hedge, and planting and mulching some 50 new plants, we were done in just two weekends! Now if we can just get some rain....

Stay tuned for photos and a video tour of the front yard. In the meantime, we are taking a much-needed break and going on vacation for a week starting this Friday. Whew -- we need to go fishing!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Introducing our new Bay-Friendly Backyard!

Drum roll please... Yes, we are done with the backyard, after nearly three months of hard work. Was it worth it? Oh yeah! Look at the photos and tell us what you think.

In trying to adequately describe the new backyard, two words come to mind: interesting and peaceful. The diversity of plants, with their varied textures, scents and colors, makes our yard so much more interesting. We enjoy just looking at everything. And the shady walkways surrounded by these gorgeous plants give us such a feeling of peace. Rick and I have been sitting in the yard every night and just admiring it. I told him last night that this is the first time in my home ownership memory that I have ever been able to look at my landscape and not see it as just a list of chores waiting to be done -- you know, weeding, edging and mowing. This yard enhances our quality of life, instead of interfering with it.

In Florida, one billion gallons of water is used every day just to water St. Augustine grass. It was that eye-opening statistic that started us on this landscape makeover back in February. I am so proud that we decided to buck the norm and Do Something Different! We can now say we are truly practicing what we preach, in our own little way and in our own little world.
 Our urban wild critters seem to enjoy the transformed yard too. We have seen our resident black racer on a regular basis, and the backyard birds are coming in a steady stream to our feeder and birdbath. The supply of "customers" to our butterfly garden is increasing every day, and last weekend we spotted our first swallowtails.  

Of course, we still have the front yard to make over, and Lisa has given us another beautiful landscape plan for that. But for just a few days, I think Rick and I have earned the chance to sit back, drink a cool beverage, and admire the results of our labors.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dare We Say It? We're Almost Done!

We have completed all the planting in the backyard -- more than 120 individual plants.  I singlehandedly planted 34 shrubs and groundcovers in one day a week ago and am very glad I got that task completed before the humidity descended on us last weekend. It seems like our gorgeous Spring has fast-forwarded straight to August!

We put in a very productive weekend despite the heat. I planted the last of the new plants, and finished mulching the beds with pine bark, while Rick completed installation of the edging. The FINAL task, occurring this week, is bringing in washed shell for our pathways. Then we will truly be done with the backyard, and ready to move to the front.

Many of the plants have been in their new homes for more than a month now, and they seem to be settling in and expanding. The lovely bulbine plants are spreading already and blooming constantly, attracting a steady supply of bees to the delicate orange and yellow blossoms. And the little shade-loving iris that I transplanted from the backyard to the side of the house are also producing gorgeous flowers -- white blossoms with blue centers. I have been having a great time getting up close and personal with them with my macro lens on my camera.

We already have butterfly customers in the butterfly garden, and this morning I counted three monarch caterpillars munching away on the plants. Spotted our first Gulf fritillary too.

Saturday morning, we enjoyed watching a sleek black racer and a beautiful glass lizard checking out our plant beds. We've uncovered several glass lizards hiding in the leaf litter during our yard makeover. These fascinating animals are legless like snakes, but have a lizardlike head and really are considered lizards. They are called "glass" lizards because their tails break off if grabbed by a predator, so they can escape. The tail will eventually regrow.


Rick and I are so pleased with the way the yard looks. In trying to find the best word to describe our new yard, I keep coming back to "interesting." Our landscape is so much more interesting with the incredible variety of plants we have now.  And it is truly becoming the peaceful oasis we hoped it would be, so peaceful that even the "Foreman," our cat Belle, has been napping on the job.