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.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Downtown Orlando Cottage

Painting of the trim and Golden Yellow. The porch and ceiling will be next.

I have been completely pre-occuppied by doing the things I want to write about and making the money to do them. Wednesday and Thursday were spent painting the cottage outside . Friday I arose at 3:30 and got on the road to plant country south of Miami at 4. After stopping at my favorite cafeteria on Krome Avenue for a breakfast of stuffed peppers,Cuban-style, I headed down to a nursery almost at the entrance to the Everglades to buy a couple of large (eight foot) trellised bouganvilla. I had a fairly extensive shopping list, plus the requisite stop to buy orchids and bromeliads, so I was glad to get back to Orlando a little before seven, go to gym and feed Mike and David's dog before going to bed. That was how I spent my birthday. Yesterday we installed plants at the cottage and out in Windermere at the water feature. Today was paperwork, reading and spent some time on the internet. I purchased some chain on which to hang some of the orchids. The front of the house after everything has been painted and some of the orchids I purchased in Miami are placed out.
We trimmed out the volunteer oak that had grown up in the cherry laurel on the west side of the front porch. There's a lot less cherry laurel there than I thought but the effect of the removal has been very positive. The house looks larger, more balanced and cheerful. Ultimately I plan to build trellis-like structures on each side of the porch that will be painted and trimmed to augment the woodwork and style of the cottage.
The first bit of landscaping to the cottage. Just having the lawn mowed made a big difference and and the addition of a plant bed in the front ads a tropical look to the cottage.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Orlando Remodel, Windermere Water Feature and Busy Week

This is going to continue to be one heck of a week. I took Mike and David to the airport early Sunday Morning so they can attend a one week family reunion on the shores of Lake Michigan. The water feature is structurally complete but my trip to south Florida is on hold until I hear from a couple of more people on plant orders. The cost in time and gas is the same so the more plants I can get, the better the return. Also want to pick up some crotons, ti-plants, eugenias and a couple orchids for the garden cottage. Work has progressed on it, we've only been in a week and we have done quite a lot.
In the middle of the scrapping and wood putty job.

Sanding after the wood putty gets rid of the divets in the wood.

Sunday I scraped, sanded, filled and sanded some more the door surround which bore the scars of multiple Christmas decorations and an old screen door. I used Behr's ultra white exterior "prime and paint all in one" for the trim. It saves having to use a runny, messy primer and the fresh white looks perfect with almost everything. It costs about $35 per gallon but it's well worth it. And using one white for just about everything means we don't have to worry about matching for touch ups later.
I chose to keep the yellow body color but went for something a bit richer. I had a Ralph Lauren color, "Golden Yellow" made up at the local Benjamin Moore dealer, Watkins Paint on Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando. With the help of the manager, Ryan, I also chose what he said was as close as the had to a Charleston green as possible, "Black Forrest Green" for the porch floor. The color named for the classic southern city became popular after the Civil War. Impoverished gentility longed for color, but it tended to be too expensive. They discovered that by adding a little yellow to black paint (with a slight blue bias), they could achieve a rich, dark green. Hence the birth of one of the classic Southern color schemes- dark green with crisp white. To top it all off we'll paint the porch ceiling a very pale blue. Haven't picked the color yet, but again this choice of a sky blue on a porch ceiling is classic southern palette choice. So there you have it- Ultra white trim, "Golden Yellow Body," "Black Forrest Green" floor, Sky Blue ceiling. The porch will be done by Saturday. Oh yes, the wicker is all being sprayed flat black.
The Golden Yellow on the bottom vs. the paler existing yellow.
Lunch Break at the Garden Cottage. Notice the line between the two yellows.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Windemere Water Feature Progress

Handing Mike the field stone so he can place it to continue building up where the waterfall will eventually be.
The 2 inch pipes flowing with water from the 1.5 h.p. pump, we will need to cover these later so they're out of sight.

Now beginning to look like a water feature, its time to begin covering the pipes.

A small discussion about the best way to cover the pipes between Mike and Ed.

Mike taking a dip and well deserved break on a day that is near 100 F.

Earlier in the day Steve added some 4x4's to the retaining wall so more dirt can be added for the tropical plants to come.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Garden Bungalow in Downtown Orlando

Yesterday saw the move into the new house on Jefferson Street that we will transform into the Garden Cottage over the next several months. It's complete evolution will take years, but in only a few weeks it should be ready for an open house. The condition on move-in could not be more ideal for helping stage dramatic before and after pictures. The Bahia grass is at least a foot high and there is a nice pile of debris at the curb waiting for its Thursday pickup.
The front porch floor has been painted a distracting yellow and green checkerboard in a previous errant attempt at decorating. The outside paint is deteriorating and dirty. The landscaping is a disjointed non-entity in front and the back is just a shambles. The inside is clean but in need of every kind of attention to details. The freestanding garage is an ignored hulk complete with cobwebs and dirt covered floor, but I expect it to be the star of the whole show. It will become the studio- home to the production of art, design and writing. It will be the publishing h.q. of this blog and its partner, "Florida Life and Times." These pages will be replete with images of the transformation of the bungalow into the ideal garden retreat set in an historic neighborhood only a little more than a mile from the downtown of a city that is the center of a metropolitan area that is growing on three million. Nature and urbanity blended sound like a heaven for Florida monkeys. I can hardly wait.

On a slight lean due to some of the compromised wood structuring, this shed will be re-made into an art and work studio.

This structure is in definite need of a new paint job.
Some of the wood is completely rotted through and will need to be replaced, but at least its fixable.
Yesterday we emptied the garage so we, Steve, could pressure wash it. Sure going to miss those black widow spider webs. We found the timber is badly deteriorated in many spots, totally useless in others. No wonder the building is leaning! Mike said someone should roll the camera so we might at least get the video of the whole thing crashing down on us on tv. Of course the driveway in front looks like a rubbish pile. Thank goodness we also pressure washed the front and porch. At least if we paint that today, something will actually look better rather than worse when the weekend is over.
Hopefully we'll be tackling the front porch which needs a complete painting. Notice the yellow used inside of the window frames?
The checkerboard floor will be replaced with a Charleston green all over.