Monday, December 26, 2011

Landscape Painting by Laurence E Fosgate

Here is a landscape painting I did a few years ago that hangs inside the Tremml family home in Vero Beach, Florida.  It depicts part of the back gardens we did for themat their former home in Maitland that was featured in The Orlando Sentinel under the heading "The Best Medicine."  We have done extensive work at both these homes over the years.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Orlando Pergolas by Laurence E Fosgate

We have been building pergolas for twenty years in Central Florida. Recently we revisited the  property in Vero Beach where we did four pergolas, including two in the courtyard of this impressive home on the Indian River.  In addition to the pergolas graced by colorful bouganvilla, the beautiful bromeliads, crotons, decorative pots and other landscaping were just a few of the elements added by us.  Our work even extended to interior furnishings!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Laurence E Fosgate Begins Designs for New Vero Beach Garden

Today we will go to Vero Beach to make a series of drawings and photographs for a garden across the street from the waterfront home of Willy, Emily and Glenn Tremml. They recently purchased the half acre lot for the purpose of turning it into an elaborately landscaped garden.  We're just beginning the design process, but one of my ideas is to construct a ruin- perhaps Maya inspired with shades of Machu Pichu and Angor Wat.  We'll see what comes of that over time. This will give our readers a chance to experience how a really grand project evolves through the interaction of clients and how  the progression of projects themselves begin to define the process. There is so much that goes into the something like this.  I feel confident it will be spectacular.  Our first project in Maitland was featured in Great Gardens by the Orlando Sentinel. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vero Beach Landscape by the Laurence E Fosgate Company

This is a home we first worked on in 2005. Notice how the Bismarckia, which were put in five years ago have stayed in scale.  This house has it all.  The owner's previous house in Orlando was all done by us and was featured on two full pages of the Orlando Sentinel titled "The Best Medicine" ( a reference to the husband's role as an ER physician).  We first worked on that house when the wife was pregnant with their son.  He is now sixteen and has grown up living a life in which gardens and outdoor living have played a central role.  More pictures to follow- this is one incredible property sitting on an acre along one of the deepest sections of the Indian River Lagoon.  I remember years ago when we first started working on the house having the sound of breaching dolphins keeping me awake as I attempted to sleep in the sun room.  This place literally teams with life.  Emily tells me that in addition to all kinds of birds and sea-life they have wild turkeys and bobcats. Still it's only a few blocks to the art museum, theaters and chic shops and glamorous restaurants.  The best of all worlds- living the Garden Monkey Florida lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Travertine Pavers in Celebration by Laurence E Fosgate- Again

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of doing another travertine paver project in Celebration.  The color chosen is known as "Glacier" and it is a very clean white hue.  Once we created this great space, it became painfully apparent that the view of the neighbors house was less than inviting, so we applied for (and just last night received) permission for some eight foot trellises flanked by podocarpus and trimmed out with some boxwood, flax lily and minima jasmine.  A chinese fan palm and 2 queen palms will provide additional screening and greenery. The landscape will have both a lush and manicured, neat appearance and should provide a perfect backdrop for outdoor living.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rock Gardens in Orlando by Laurence E Fosgate Make Great Orlando Sod Substitute

Over the years, we have learnd how to use rock gardens as a low maintenance and beautiful alternative to sod. The artful arrangement of rocks-from boulders to various types of river rock can add interest and color while reducing watering needs. The use of rock gardens has its place in landscape design going back to terraced areas common in Italian gardens of the 16th century and oriental gardens that run the gamut from zen to lush stream beds and water features. Since most plants need less water than sod, irrigation can be reduced saving a precious resource while conserving money. Our latest project in Rio Pinar combines mid-century modern design with lots of color in the form of bromeliads, Black Ti plants, Black Bamboo, Silver Bismarckia, purple oyster plants and two sizes of light colden brown river rock. The plants are arranged in multiple islands where the boulders simulate mountains, the islands are defined by 3/4 in river rock and the "ocean" is depicted with 1/2 river rock. The result is subtle and entertaining to the eye.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Laurence E Fosgate's Favorite Plants for Orlando

We have learned to love certain plants for Orlando. Some because they give a tropical look yet have proven they can withstand our occaisional frosts. Portea Bromeliads fill that bill. They have a beautiful bloom, can take sun or shade and freezing temperatures, are easy to care for and look spectacular. Neoregelias (also bromeliads) fill much the same bill. And the Bismarckia palm, shown here with the state palm of Florida, the sabal palmetto,
is another winner. Landscapes Orlando Florida haven't been learning about Florida plants for the last few decades for nothing!

Sod and Cattle Country for Laurence E Fosgate

Trips to pick up zoysia and other sod takes us down to cattle country where we are inevitably fascinated by the endless miles of ranches. Stretching south from Orlando over a hundred miles to below Lake Okeechobee, Florida's cattle country contains some of the top breeder stock in the country. Particularly famous are the Brahma and Brangus breeds. The people who sell us sod are as likely to ride up on horses as tractors. They are not pretending to be cowboys- they are the real thing. There is something arch-typical about the relationship between Man and cow- from images of the minotaur, toreadors, gauchos or sacred cows wandering the streets of India, something primal is awakened in me each time I see these magnificent animals on the prairies of central Florida.
And check out that longhorn. We couldn't believe it was real!

Laurence E Fosgate Home near Mead Gardens

Mead Gardens is a real treasure in Winter Park Florida, less than a block from our house. Consisting of almost forty acres of natural gardens it borders the west side of the creek that connects the north Orlando chain of lakes (Lakes Sue, Rowena, Formosa, Estelle and Winyah ) with the Winter Park chain of lakes. Recently Mike and Stephen of the team took a canoe from the dock of the "Bamboo House" (see previous blog entry) through the creek and ended up at Lake Minnehaha. Had they wanted to keep going they could have followed the waterways north to the St John's River all the way to Jacksonville and the Atlantic Ocean. These pictures show some of the varied terrain of Mead Gardens including Stephen capturing me making my way through an abandoned nature walk. I loved seeing the "Be Careful of Alligators" sign. I think it was designed more for its shock value for out of state visitors than any real desire to prevent people from being eaten. Can't remember the last time anyone around here got bitten. It is true, however, that a few folks have been taken by gators in Florida- but not while walking through the woods. Hard to believe all this wildness exists right in the heart of an urban area of almost three million people.

Chicago Brick Paver Driveway in East Orlando

Recently we completed the installation of this Chicago brick driveway in east Orlando. The home itself is 10,000 sq ft mediterranean style poured with solid concrete walls! It sits on acreage along the Econ River less than a mile west of the University of Central Florida. Most of the homes around it have horse stables. We at Laurence E Fosgate and the team really enjoyed working with this beautiful product. Old Chicago brick is salvaged from demolished buildings and has characteristic gold and yellow tones mixed with traditional terra cotta and light brown hues. While not inexpensive, it is one of those improvements where the high quality material is worth it because the results are so obviously visually spectacular. We use the analogy when describing the difference between using travertine and real brick vs concrete pavers as the same as the contrast between using formica vs granite countertops. The extra cost is amply rewarded with increased value. Frankly, the same analogy would apply to concrete pavers vs plain concrete except in that case, the obvious upgrade comes with virtually no extra cost. Regardless of the material, new driveways patios and walkways are some of the best improvement values available.

Orlando Zoysia Sod Succeeds

Our team at Laurence E Fosgate installed several homes with zoysia grass in the last couple of years. Locations ranged from Rose Isle and Lake Highland neighborhoods north of downtown Orlando,Eastside, and Alexandria Place in north Apopka. The results have been spectacular. Not only is the sod beautiful and carpet-like, it is highly resilient. Once established, it can survive periods of drought and is strong enough to resist most weeds. It's reputed drawback of losing most of its green color in cold weather is overplayed. This last winter, in spite of a few days of freezing, none of the lawns lost their color entirely. They became a mix of tan and green that was not unattractive, and this only lasted for a few weeks. By the middle of February, they were looking lush again. This is our number one recommendation for sod in Orlando. Other good news is that under a new statute here in Florida, Homeowners Associations are no longer allowed to prevent the planting of Zoysia or any other drought tolerant ground cover substitute for the notoriously water hungry St Augustine varieties. In addition to zoysia, perennial peanut (arachis glabrata) and asiatic jasmine (trachelospermum asiaticum "minima") make terrific sod substitutes.