mini summer garden tour and a little bit of a backstory

So here are more “pool-eye view” photos of my garden. Well, maybe I should¬†explain the whole “pool-eye view” thing…

I live on a tiny island off the coast of Southwest Florida. Because most of the residential lots of land on this island are right on the water (canals, bays, or the Gulf of Mexico) almost every house has an elevated foundation to prevent problems in case of coastal flooding, which can happen with a strong summer storm. because of the elevated foundations (and the fact that a lot of houses have large septic tanks, as well) any land that’s not house pitches WAY down which makes traditional gardening hard.

Anyway, in place of a traditional “backyard”, most houses her are built with a screened in lanai which sits up on the elevated foundation and basically functions as the backyard space. There is a tiny bit of land behind our lanai, but it’s a deep pitch and goes right into the seawall and then the bay behind our house. Gardening on that strip would be like gardening on the side of a mountain. Plus, we have a geothermal system under there. It’s just not “garden friendly”.

So, the only place for me to garden was *on* the lanai, inside the screen. And so that’s what I have done- over the last few years I have accumulated tons of planters, buckets, bins, pots, and garden bowls and my garden grows in those containers. I have a little potting area and Tom will bring me giant bags of soil (I store it in a plastic bin) as I need it. I have a hose that reaches all over the lanai. I’ve learned that container plants need repotting often to keep the spoil “fresh” so once I understood that, I was gardening away.

Basically I am in the process of turning the lanai into a huge container garden. I didn’t intend to do that- I started with just a back corner of the lanai. But I love it and a lot of my plants have gotten quite large and then I keep finding plants and seeds that I want to add so… the garden grows.

(I’m seriously considering turning the un-used hot tub into a water garden, but Tom’s really hesitant because the hot tub is plumbed THROUGH the pool’s pipes and if we ever have issues, it will be problematic.)

The screen is good because it really does keep down pest stuff (we do get snails and whiteflies and mealy bugs but NOTHING like we do on the outside of the screen!), but bad because there is a LOT less sun due to the screening and some plants just need direct sun all day.

Another challenge is the pool. ¬†On the lanai, we have a fairly huge pool- I’ve been swimming every day for 21 years now (holy smokes!) and when we built this house in 2004, the one thing I wanted more than anything was a long pool that I could swim laps in so I wouldn’t have to go to public pools (the Y, etc.) anymore. So my pool is 55 feet long, and goes down almost the entire length of the lanai. As you can imagine it takes up a ton of space.

But the cool thing is that I basically swim in a line down the center of my garden every day. I get two hours of undisturbed observation. I see a lot of stuff most gardeners don’t ever see- the undersides of plants, mostly. That’s where a lot of problems start, so it’s kind of a good thing. And I get to see changes close-up. Every day as I swim, there’s something new to see.

And the reason I am so fascinated by the little lizards that live among the plants *inside* the lanai is because they truly do provide a source of entertainment and distraction when I am swimming. They’ll come out and do their thing freely when I’m in the pool, so it’s neat to go back and forth and see them doing different things. They have individual areas of turf, and when one of them “crosses over” it gets really crazy- all these lizards will emerge and start running back and forth.

[Hey, it’s either watch the lizards hunt and interact or look at the inside of the pool. The lizards win every time.]

So anyway, here’s a few photos I took from the pool- I kinda splashed around the edge VERY CAREFULLY with my iPhone and snapped a few photos. They aren’t the best because it was noon and the sun was almost directly overhead, but I figured while I was out there I might as well try and get a few photos from the most common perspective I have of my garden.



This little “annex” is home to three passiflora (going up the column) plus a few orchids and from time to time afew pots with starter seeds. The sun is good here most of the year, and the cats rarely mess with plants in this area, so it’s a good place to start seeds.


This is a view from the center of the pool looking down the lanai. I’ve got plants around 50% of the pool length now. I guess it’s only a matter of time until I’ve got them all the way around the pool. It’s okay, but walking on that little bit of space between the planters and the pool holding a hose and trying to keep my balance (I have a neurological thing called Spina Bifida) can be a little tricky sometime. Add a few cats underfoot…

Anyway, most of the plants around the edge of the pool are tropical- a lot of hibiscus, plus four plumeria, three rose bushes, and two hydrangea, plus whatever else needs sun.

7.jpgAt one end of the pool/lanai we have a little square of open area, so I use that for the main garden bit- the vegetables (back corner is eggplant and tomato), herbs (basil right now) and the geranium. I have quite a geranium collection- I got it in my head to get one of every possible color and so I’ve got more than a few.


At the back is the screen door that leads to the steps down to the seawall, and I have a little butterfly garden on those steps- jasmine, milkweed, a rose bush, penta, and I’m trying to get a passiflora vine to go out there but it keeps getting eaten to the branch.


To the right is my BIG passiflora- we recently transferred it into a huge container and we’re letting it basically take over that corner. On the little tables and shalves next to it are different cactus, succulents, ivy, a peace lily, etc. Small pots.


To the right of the shelves is a large shrimp plant (one of the first plants I ever got!) and two planters of different kinds of coleus.


And then to the right of the shrimp plant is a spot that’s pretty shady so different plants cycle through there- right now it’s a (chipped) pot of lemon verbana and a few started bowls of catnip for the cats.

Some day I’ll get Gracie to host a video tour. She’s good at that stuff and her explanations of the plants are amusing, (if not scientifically accurate.)

Comments 2

  1. Misti wrote:

    Wow, your vines are doing great!

    What about terracing some of your slopes?

    Posted 21 Jun 2013 at 8:26 am
  2. Sherilee wrote:

    Loved seeing more of your environment for gardening, and the view from your pool! Thanks for sharing.

    Posted 22 Jun 2013 at 10:10 pm

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