Sunday, December 20, 2009

Celebration Pavers and Landscape are Completed

Our project to remodel the back yard and pool area of this beautiful home in Celebration Florida, Disney's much acclaimed master planned community, has reached a successful completion. We replaced an unsightly agglomeration of concrete pavers with beautiful gold-toned travertine. The transformation couldn't be more dramatic. The small space has been transformed into a lush tropical paradise and when the landscape reaches its full effect in a couple of years, the oldhamii bamboo and assorted palms will create the perfect retreat for entertaining and just lounging by the pool. In the "L" of the backyard we built a raised terrace that will be the perfect spot for a market umbrella nested in a table with four chairs for enjoying al fresco dining. Closer to the house the large covered lanai features a wet bar and extensive counter top for more entertaining possibilities. This area too was covered in the golden tone travertine pavers. With the pool and hot tub, this backyard retreat features all the amenities with virtually no maintenance! Left to do are potted plants, refurbishing the funky wall fountain, painting the house in this area, outdoor lighting and furniture. A mural on the two story wall that makes the garage apartment would be a final piece de resistance.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Travertine Tile Installation At Home in Celebration Gets Underway

After the travertine in the kitchen is installed.

The original old Chicago brick floor in the kitchen.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Celebration Paver Installation Nears Completion

Our transformation of the pool area in this Golfpark Drive home in Celebration is almost complete. Unfortunately our camera with the pictures of the "before" were left in the lanai over the weekend and someone took advantage of a great deal on an "abandoned" camera. Suffice it to say that we have rarely seen more of a hodge-podge of material with at least five different kinds of pavers, many of them poorly laid. We have replaced them with absolutely beautiful gold range travertine pavers and the results are outstanding. When combined with the new landscaping over the next few days, the results will be truly amazing. Florida Pool Area-Extreme Makeover Edition, are you ready for you close-up?

If you're not familiar with it, Celebration is the town created in 1994 to help fulfill Walt Disney's vision of EPCOT, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The imagineers brought in some of the world's top architects, designers and urban planners to help them build a self contained idealistically conceived community. The result is quite satisfying. For more information in depth about Celebration read the complete article in our Florida Life and Times Blog!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Winter Park Landscaping of Mid-Century Modern Continues

Liza and Mike Jennings home before work begins.
Their home after the driveway and some of the landscaping is installed.

The installation included these 6x6 ft. squares of pavers offset to lead up to the front door.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Natural Pond near Wekiva River

Here is the pond at the beginning of the cleaning project. Obviously algae averrun the first step will be to clear the shore line of debris and remove the dead grass from the pond.
Recently we got a call to come out to a property that has a natural pond on it that had become algae overrun. When the young couple who purchased the property first saw it, the water was clear. Then the surface became completely covered with thick algae. They hired someone who uses chemicals for retention pond maintenance and although certified to be safe, his treatment promptly killed the littoral water plants, while leaving the algae relatively unscathed.
My proposed solution is to gradually restore the natural balance of the pond by introducing native water plants like pickerel weed along the shore and water lilies in the pond itself. Water lilies help reduce the production of algae by depriving the plants of sunlight under their spreading pad/leaves. The littoral plantings act as a filter to rainwater washing from the steep banks and bringing dirt and other pollutants into the water. Both types of plantings increase oxygen and help burn up nutrients that make the water healthier for fish while decreasing the available nutrients for algae. This will be a slow process but in the end the transformation should be pretty spectacular.
Returning this little pond to its natural beauty and health will be all the more appropriate as this property sits in the Wekiva River Valley and is daily home to herds of deer and, though they have only seen him once, a large Florida Black Bear. He is shy about being seen but at least once a week makes his presence known by rifling through the trash.
At the shore of the pond a lot of dead grass and oak branches. Pulling them out is a good start to improving the look of the pond and will make room for the future plants to be put in.
To remove the dead grass and fallen branches from the pond we'll be enlisting this john boat for the day.
This picture really shows how tall the lake grass had grown. Including the roots, each clump of grass, weighing anywhere from 5 to 15 lbs., were pulled out individually requiring a lot of effort, but had a huge affect on the look of the pond by day's end.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Winter Park Landscaping will transform Mid-Century Modern

Front of the house as work begins.

The existing walk-way

After several weeks of planning, we are finally starting on a project that is going to transform our project house into a real architectural gem. By taking this 1950's ranch that was "dolled up" to look like a Brittany farm house (all the rage in Orlando at the time) and bringing it back to it's roots in mid-century modern design, we are creating a template that will hopefully be useful to myriads of others who occupy this abundant style./
The subject property sits in a charming and popular neighborhood in the affluent and culturally rich Orlando suburb of Winter Park. A popular tongue in cheek send up of upper middle class values published in the nineteen eighties, "The Preppy Handbook," lists only two cities in Florida as proper preppy addresses, Palm Beach and Winter Park. Winter Park is certainly less pretentious than Palm Beach and a lot of the city life centers on places like Rollins College, the Farmer's Market and it's two famous art festivals. It's just the right environment to showcase a project that will appeal to aficionados of modern architecture, as we seek to return this property to its proper roots. At the end of the day, we plan to push it a little beyond its previous incarnation and bring it together with new touches that will strengthen its "modernist aspects. Hope you'll enjoy watching the transformation.Me at the front door

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Windermere Landscaping Includes Fruit Trees

A medium size carambola also called starfruit

This week will see the installation of fourteen fruit trees on the south side of the property. In addition to our selection of citrus, which you might expect to find in an Orlando home's garden, we're planting carambola, lychee and avocodo. These first two are liable to be a little exotic to many people so we'll explain them in a bit more detail.
The carambola is also commonly called the star fruit and is certainly one of the most delightful tropicals imaginable The entire fruit may be eaten, skin and all and the seeds and pith are usually small and soft enough to be eaten whole as well. Right now the fruits are ripening on the trees around Orlando and we usually get to enjoy the harvest for about a month. Packed with antioxidants, carambola have a lovely and sophisticated sweetness that has earned them a place in some lists as one of the world's super fruits! And although they are tropical, the trees we know around town withstood temperatures of 28 degrees in this last winter's colder than normal freeze and have still produced a bountiful harvest. Though no one knows the exact origin of carambola it's presumed to be southeast Asia.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Landscaping Windermere Continues

The best view of the waterfall I think is from this side, the right. One gets a great view of the three types of waterfalls.

This last week saw the addition of shade giving plants in the back garden flanking the water feature. Six Queen Palms, which have large heads of palm fronds that are ideal for creating shade without blocking the view, were added in two groups of three each. In addition we added three Adonidia Palms with multiple trunks and a Coconut Palm. Both of these have been considered too cold sensitive for the Orlando area, but this year after seeing specimens even in outlying areas survive an unusual drop to 28 degrees and come back flourishing, I decided to add them to the mix. A large single trunked Foxtail , two magnolias, three golden bamboo, and a magnificent Bismarkia round out the mix. As great as these look now, the results with a year of growth will be even more spectacular. Bamboo and queen palms in particular respond quickly to being freed from their pots.

This foxtail palm adds great shade to the patio along with the 6 queen palms spaced out on each side of the pond.
You can see the magnolias flanking the water feature along with this great specimen of coconut palm. It's the brighter green one leaning towards the pond. I can just imagine how this will look with a year growth.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Orlando Bamboo Garden

This project on a lakefront north of downtown Orlando, was begun with one client for whom we've done multiple projects, and when he sold it, the new owner let us continue in the same vein. It represents the ultimate in synthesizing indoor/outdoor living and incorporates many concepts embraced by the Garden Monkey Florida design philosophy.
When we started the project a decade ago, there was a dearth of plantings, with the exception of a couple of terrific live oaks, one in front the other in back. The rest of what you see has all been planted since then. Believe it or not, tropical style plantings are the easiest to maintain. We simply thin it out and whack it back periodically. Other than that and blowing off the decks and walks, it pretty much takes care of itself. Once established, irrigation is minimal, since the shade creates its own water saving micro climate. Also the natural leaf litter makes its own compost , so adding fertilizers is virtually unnecessary.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Water Feature Windermere Gets Landscaping

View of the water feature from the back patio.
Here she is in all her glory, The Water Feature is wearing all her beautiful greenery. There will be quite a bit more, but this goes a long way toward achieving the natural look which is our ultimate goal, This is a big step.
Me at the Water Feature. The water hayacinth's will help the water clear as will a UV screener.
Side view of the water feature. More landscaping will come in the near future.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Downtown Orlando Cottage and Baldwin Park

A beautiful morning in Baldwin Park
A square fountain near downtown Baldwin Park
Just a mile northeast of the cottage is the new village of Baldwin Park. Built on the site of the old Naval Training Center, which itself succeeded the Orlando Air Force Base, the area represents all that is best in contemporary urban landscape design.

Bridge over the river that runs through much of Baldwin Park

Downtown Orlando Cottage Environs

One of the great benefits of our location is its walkability. We have access to lots of shopping and dining within half a mile, from the mundane like Target, the regular mall-type stores at Fashion Square, the favorite chains like Barnes and Noble and TooJays or the cool and hip like The Drunken Monkey and Kyle's Bike Shop, our neighborhood has it all. We go to the LA Fitness just a few blocks away and it has the best cross-section of people you could possibly want. And the night spots are all right here too, from Revolution (a gay club) to the Sportstown billiard hall (an institution for over fifty years), entertainment venues abound. The neighborhood doesn't actually have a name. But I've just decided to call it "East End." Not terribly original, but neither is the moniker "downtown," which still seems to work.
After reading today's paper, sadly downsized to have contents rivalling a really good "shopper," I realize that one of the purposes of this blog should be to review local restaurants and shops because, there's just a need for it. Hail the new media!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Downtown Orlando Cottage and Fern Creek

Just one example of the lush vegetation growing in Azalea Park with a view of what I call the Brontasaurus Oak.

A view of the gorgeous Central Ave. Bridge from park level.

Looking south from under the Central Ave. Bridge, paradise awaits just on the other side.

Just north of the Central Ave. Bridge.

Dickson Azalea Park contains one of the most lush areas of flora growing beside fern creek, and a walking trail with bridges like this one that lets you criss-cross it several times. Running from Robinson Street down to the resovoir in the Greenwood Cemetary and 1/4 mile west of Bumby Ave. the park stretches about two miles from north to south.

While making sure I had the right angle for this shot down the creek, did I miss a giant alligator just in front of me?

Another shot of the brontasauras tree. It seems it has stretched it's way horizontal and then vertical over the years trying to get more sunlight.

Hanging bridge across Fern Creek in Azalea Park.

Photobucket Beautiful waterfall on the north end of the park.

View from one of the park's many bridges.

The entrance to a part of Azalea Park as seen from Central Ave. The trail on the left leads into the lush woods and goes along Fern Creek.

Carl T. Langford park. Next to Fern Creek are large clearings like this one.

A few blocks west of the cottage, Jefferson Street runs into Dickson's Azalea Park. It is built along a little stream called Fern Creek that flows south into the reservoir and wetlands that lie
just outside Greenwood Cemetery, the city's oldest. Here are a few shots of this little oasis. It looks more like something you think of in North Carolina than downtown Orlando, but I think one of the fun things about this blog is to dispel some of the misconceptions that people have of what Florida is really like. It is as layered and complicated as a zone that transitions from temperate to tropic, from mainland to island, should be.

Along the elevated board walk in Carl T. Langford park is this covered stage area. Fern Creek on the left hand side and plenty of covered pick-nic areas on the right side.Giant Elephant Ear, about 6ft.X4ft.