What does a former New Yorker do when retiring to sunny DeLand? This one brought all her garden furniture, yard art and potted plants along. Maureen Miller-Calamo has jumped right into Florida gardening with a love of color and butterflies. A member of the Milkweed Circle of the Garden Club of DeLand, she gathers plants and ideas from meetings, garden tours and local nurseries. Maureen and her husband Bob enjoy creating projects together like rebuilding potting areas, lighting for garden accents, water fountains and raised beds in their small but well-appointed garden. “I love my potting area we made from salvaged pieces of my New York greenhouse that was destroyed in a storm. Bob is great with the techy projects, we can operate the lights and water features from our phone apps.”
How much time do you spend in the garden? “At least an hour a day, unless I am doing a project, that can take longer. My husband and I enjoy projects.”
When shopping for a new home in the area, butterflies caught Maureen’s attention and she knew where she wanted to be. Her garden includes larval plants: cassia, milkweed and passion vine as well as nectar plants: salvia, bottlebrush tree, coral honeysuckle, firecracker, impatiens, coleus, lantana, and coreopsis. The visitor’s eye is drawn up to lots of colorful hanging baskets with a variety of flowers cascading. A newly installed sabal palm is surrounded by colorful baskets and planters at different heights providing visual variety with lots of joyful garden art.
“These three fig trees are from my father-in-law’s cuttings.” It’s amazing how many varieties of edible plants are grown in this small garden including, lemon and banana trees, blueberry, lettuces, green beans, cucumbers, parsley, fennel, basil and peppers for cooking. “I enjoy watching them grow and picking the vegetables. I enjoy the process. I love it here, it’s smaller than the garden we had in New York. This is just the right size. I am drawn to color.” Maureen is also an origami instructor. She takes her love of color from the origami patterns to her garden. Her gift for placing plants in colorful patterns has turned her garden into a work of art.
Congratulations to Maureen and Robert Calamo; Garden Club of DeLand awards this hidden jewel in Victoria Park Community with February 2022 Garden of the Month.
Submission by Cheryl Floyd
for the Garden Club of DeLand,
affiliated with the National Garden Clubs, Inc.
The Artisan Alley Garden has a history from asphalt and an abandoned nursery retail space to the display-ready ever evolving Monarch Sanctuary. Barb and Jeff Shepherd with the help of horticulture expert Erin Miceli have become the stewards of the garden. They are awarded Garden of the Month for January 2022 by the Garden Club of DeLand.
Former and current Artisan Alley shop owners, employees and vendors from the farmer’s market have generously contributed to the plant collection throughout the years.
In December 2018 Miceli was hired as the gardener/horticulture consultant. “This project attracted me by providing an opportunity to beautify an existing green space in downtown DeLand. Urban horticulture is one of my passions. The tenacity of a flower growing persistently through a crack in the pavement is a thing of beauty. Over the past three years we have been adding permaculture elements as well as planting to attract pollinators. In 2019 we received certification as a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary from the Garden Club of DeLand as part of the Monarch City USA program.”
Jeff Shepherd shares, “We began our interest in gardening as a social awareness of our impact on the earth. After reading the book titled No Work Gardening by Ruth Stout we started composting and that’s when I first got my hands dirty with gardening and growing edibles in the garden.”
Erin continues, “We try to demonstrate how edibles can be included in a small space with fig, pineapples, tomatoes, blueberries, papayas and hot peppers grown in the ground or in containers. Herbs vary by the season including sage, chives, oregano, parsley, mint, tarragon, basil and fennel. We are situated in a bit of a microclimate, due to the geography of the garden. This allows us to experiment with zone-pushing a few things that are typically grown further south.”
“We have had broccoli, eggplant, and other edibles bought from the farmer’s market. We love supporting the market and demonstrating to our attendees what can be grown in a small space. We have thought about labeling our plants to help answer the many questions we receive. That may be a future project,” shares Barb.
“Gardens are always a work in progress". Come for a visit and see the garden evolution happening at Artisan Alley,” invitation by Miceli.
Written and submitted by Cheryl Floyd for the Garden Club of DeLand, affiliated with the National Garden Clubs, Inc.
Barb and Jeff Shepherd with Erin
Lynn Ventura’s five-year-old garden has become her labor of love. “I didn’t know how to fill my time after retiring. I could only read so many hours of the day. I love working, so I started by widening beds in the front of my home and along the driveway. Then I just kept going.”
Step by step, plant by plant her garden grew and so did her peace of mind. The Ventura garden was recommended for Garden of the Month by Sue Jarvis, a good gardening friend who has gifted many seedlings and cuttings to get this garden growing.
Walking in front of the home we see a row of little rubies, a bushy plant that transplants and grows easily. “I bought this yellowtop, from Volusia County Cooperative Extension Garden Show. I love finding plants wherever I can to add to my gardens. Look, the red cloak blooms resemble slices of watermelon!”
“I never gardened before moving here. I did have a greenhouse with orchids before, but orchids are quite self-sufficient and a different type of gardening.” The light green leaves of a sunshine ligustrum and recently planted muhly grass flaunting its fall purple-pink flowers grace the front bed. There was nothing here but sparse grass. “I do my own mowing, but less and less as my gardens grow. This is sweet almond. Sometimes when I pull into my driveway and all I can smell is the fragrance from this plant.”
We pass a ponytail palm, copperleaf, Japanese or bush clovers, red Turk’s cap, and rabbit’s foot fern to name a few. Like many gardeners, her back garden is her oasis. Delightful yard art catches the eye, as well as panels made from recycled wooden fence pickets painted during a garden paint party. “It’s kitschy,” she shares, “I love garden art. I don’t know what I would have done without this garden when I retired and especially during the pandemic.” Lynn carts in square pavers and rock to create her own winding paths that lead the eye and foot to smaller garden patches. Green baskets blend in along the path, ready for weeds. No pesticides are used in this butterfly sanctuary!
The Garden Club of DeLand awards Lynn Ventura’s Garden, Garden of the Month for December 2021. Written and submitted by Cheryl Floyd for the Garden Club of DeLand, affiliated with the National Garden Clubs, Inc.
This little piece of paradise is tucked back on Daisy Lake near the St. Johns River. As we walked along the garden beds, bees buzzed and butterflies danced among the yellow fall blooms of the Senna Cassia trees. Dale Ball has discovered a new found pleasure in gardening, “At any time I may see Monarchs, Zebra Longwings, Sulphur butterflies, Gulf Fritillaries, Queens and even Swallowtails. My friend Jim West asked me what I was going to plant along the creek bed in place of the jungle I had cleared. I wanted something that looked good, but still gave privacy. I didn’t know anything about butterflies. Jim and I started planting that fall, three years ago, now I love the butterflies.”
“Were you a gardener previous to living here?”
“No, but I was born in an era when everything we ate came from the farm. The first three years of my life, Dad didn’t make one dime. In 1936 to 39 we depended on what we raised and traded in north Texas where I grew up. Even after he retired and moved to town Dad always had a garden; of course that was vegetable gardening. I lived on the St Johns River in a houseboat for over twenty years, until I moved here. I love nature, but didn’t realize how big an opponent nature was. It’s tough to compete with the ants, wasps, and lizards. This trellis with the Passion Vine will get covered in Zebra Longwing caterpillars, but not many of them make it to butterflies because of the lizards.” Skippers and other butterflies flitted over the beautiful tall coral Porter Weed planted along the creek bed. “The flowers bloom in stages so there is always a nectar plant blooming, now its porter weed, other times it’s red and pink Pentas, blue Plumbago, yellow lantana, or rose hibiscus.”
Ball’s garden stretches along a 300-foot creek bed curving from the front of his property back to meet Daisy Lake which flows into the Dead River and connects to the St. Johns; it takes Ball only a few minutes by boat to get to the river. His is a garden in progress and a new butterfly passion for this river man.
The Garden Club of DeLand an affiliate of the National Garden Clubs, Inc. presents The Garden of the Month for November 2021 to Dale Ball, DeLand.
By Cheryl Floyd
The Garden Club of DeLand presents the October 2021 Garden of the Month award to Margaret Gillen. Her Victoria Hills garden has been planted predominately in green and white. In the summer months white caladiums grace the space and year round green and white variegated liriope and low maintenance green coontie continue the theme. This thirteen year old garden has gone through a major transformation. Great care has been given to placing the right plants for the partially shaded areas. Agapanthus and daylily summer blooms were just finishing up for the season.
As we followed the path along the north side of her home, Margaret points out her potting area where she is preparing plants to be sold during the Garden Club of DeLand’s annual plant sale to be held on the clubhouse grounds at 865 South Alabama Avenue from 8am to noon on Saturday, October 9. She shared that her circle, the Firecrackers, are making yard art Whimsy Sticks for the fundraiser.
We walked along her decorated sidewalk featuring brick art she creates with fun and inspirational sayings like: Aspire to Inspire. Gillen, former art teacher, teasingly refers to herself as a concrete artist. Her garage is her studio and her garden her pallet.
“Peacock ginger is full now it will go down and come back again in the spring. It’s a wonderful ground cover and spreads easily. Here are my camellias. My father was a camellia judge and he started the first men’s Garden club in Gainesville. My mother planted beautiful long-stemmed roses. They inspired my love of gardening.”
To combat erosion, Margaret created a tiered garden and planted amaryllis due to their giant root system. Next she pointed out Pink Ladies and other plants that need a balance of shade and sun. She is outlining her garden with bromeliads that were actually rescued from a trash heap. “I love bromeliads; this one with the Pink blossom is called Kyoto after the capital of Japan.”
“Aspidistra is wonderful for floral arrangements. Soak the long leaves in water, and then you can curl and pin it to form a spiral. Every garden needs aspidistra and fern for floral arrangements.”
Margaret received her certification as a Master Gardener with the Volusia County Master Gardener Program. She loves sharing plants and helping to keep DeLand beautiful and that’s why she serves as Garden Club of DeLand co-chair for the downtown planters.
Located on Victoria Hills Drive, DeLand. Next spring see real show stoppers when Margaret’s azaleas will be in their full glory and her large tabebuia tree will be covered in yellow blossoms.
By Cheryl Floyd, Garden of the Month Chairperson, DeLand Garden of the Month
Mary Lane Hood is on a mission to convert the garden space around her home to attract more bees and butterflies. In a neighborhood surrounded by traditional landscaping this home in Victoria Hills is graced by flowers. She dug out flowerless hedges in front of her home and planted a patch of larval and nectar food. Bees were buzzing around a burst of colors in this paradise patch of nectar providers: red and pink Penta, yellow Bush Daisies, white cat’s whiskers, purple salvia “Wendy’s Wish”, orange Firebush along with coreopsis and others too plentiful to name. “They took off like bullets because we used organic fertilizer in here,” shares Hood. Larval host plants for swallowtails, the blue Sky Vine, and Dutchman pipe, have woven their way up a wooden trellis designed with double sides for more growth. There’s Cassia for Sulphur butterflies and Milkweed for Monarchs. “I have lots of bees, bumble bees and honey bees. The milkweed has been eaten down to the bare bones. We had lots of chrysalises all over the place, hanging off of the glider, the roof, all over the walls. We have hatched lots and lots of butterflies. It’s been a real joy.”
Growing up in Tennessee Hood enjoyed gardening and grew her love of flowers with her mother and as a member of 4H. Remember those 4 H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. She has embraced those and extends them through her career choice as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse with a specialty in anesthesia which she has been practicing since 1975. Her heart felt energies extend to her family including her husband, Dr. Royce Hood, two daughters, three grandsons, her patients and her beloved cats; and of course bees and butterflies. Hoods mission is to create an example garden for others to emulate.
Mary Lane Hood shares, “I do this because it’s beneficial, it takes effort, my effort. I do this because I think it’s important. I enjoy it so much. We sit out here on the front porch glider and watch the butterflies; they were so plentiful from April through June.”
Residents of HOA communities need to apply through their HOA for permission to make changes with landscaping and avoid the use of insecticides and pesticides. As more people learn about the benefits of planting gardens that are beautiful and provide natural food for pollinators as well; we can all be a part of a much needed change in our environment.
The Hoods have two DeLand homes that have received the designation of Certified Monarch Sanctuaries and now The Garden Club of DeLand also awards the Hoods’ home in Victoria Hills with the August 2021 Garden of the month.
By Cheryl Floyd, Garden of the Month Chairperson, DeLand Garden of the Month
The Garden Club of DeLand awarded Barbara and Harland Merriam Garden Club of the Month for their Daylily and Butterfly Gardens. The Merriams returned to DeLand from Texas and moved into their renovated Carriage House located on property that Barbara’s parents bought in 1951. In the fall of 2020 with renovations completed they moved into the larger 1910 family home that had been restored to its early style with modern conveniences.
Barbara is an active member of the Garden Club of DeLand and the Milkweed Circle. She helps in the Butterfly Sensory Garden, the downtown planters and serves on the Butterfly Squad that has certified over 180 Monarch Sanctuaries. “I raised monarch butterflies for years when I was teaching my three and four year olds in the classroom and now we are including butterfly attractors and more native plants in our gardens. We love trading plants with others. That’s how our garden keeps growing.” In addition to larval plants for butterflies, Barbara’s favorites are pagodas, spinach tree, shrimp plants, Firebush, Pentas, Wendy’s Wish and Amistad salvias.
Propagating and hybridizing Daylilies have become a passion of Harland’s. “Their prime blooming season is April to June. We moved several trailer loads of potted daylilies from Texas to DeLand. Then we began amending the soil by collecting, spreading and composting leaves through a diligent collection of bagged discarded oak leaves.” This gives a new meaning to one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
“I started hybridizing in 2006 but we have been growing and collecting them for a lot longer. We actually dug up a ditch lily on our way to get married. I like growing daylilies because you can neglect and abuse them and they keep coming back. The favorite of my hybridization will bloom as early as February through November, with four or five re-blooming cycles. I named it St. Andrew’s White Gold. It’s a very simple, humble daylily that grows about a foot off the ground and is mostly gold. During a good sunny day the flower turns from gold to white.” Daylilies are more like a grass than a lily; named for their lily-like flower. Varieties range from dormant in the winter to evergreen, depending on the growing zones. How appropriate that the daylily is the official club flower for The Garden Club of DeLand. This couple adds their mutual love of gardening to their full bloom lifelong connection.
Readers may want to mark their calendars to drive by next spring because the daylily and butterfly garden will keep growing. Located on North Sans Souci in DeLand, this garden receives additional professional assistance from master gardener, Lance Harding, owner of DeLand Plance, located inside The Table Pantry and Provisions.
Submitted by Cheryl Floyd,
Garden of the Month Chairperson
For the love of his wife and beautiful gardens, Mark Thompson a DeLand resident of over thirty years, approached his neighbor friend, Brandon Bryson of Green Orchid Landscape Services to help redo their lawn as a gift for his wife Lynn. Imagine her surprise when she returned to their home after being away for a few months. “We went to North Dakota for a visit and I ended up staying for a while. Mark traveled back and forth to Florida for his work. When we drove up I was astounded to see our beautiful yard totally transformed.”
Landscaper Bryson shared, “I took inspiration from their western roots by replacing the decomposing wooden retaining wall in the back of their home with one hundred and ten feet of stacked Maple Canyon Flats stone chosen to complement their existing deck.” The natural habitat in the wooded area beyond the garden wall has older established azaleas that bring spring blooms. Utilizing extra stone shapes that didn’t fit into the wall, a low maintenance rock garden was created featuring an array of succulents, bromeliads, yuccas, and coontie. The lawn was replaced with new slow-growing ProVista® turf that does well in shady areas and requires less fertilization and mowing.
Clumps of spring blooming White Fountain ornamental grasses, Loropetalum and Muhly grass were planted in the bed along the horseshoe driveway. Sunpatiens a hybrid of Impatiens adorning the front entry-way are able to withstand Florida heat and sun. They will be replaced by caladiums and mums seasonally. More color catches the eye with Blue Daze along the walkway and an existing Camelia from the old landscape proved to be a keeper with much needed soil improvement and proper pruning.
Bryson whose own Wyngate garden featuring gorgeous caladiums had been nominated for the award said, “You need to see Mark and Lynn’s place; I believe it’s one of the most unique properties in Volusia County and I think it’s interesting that Mark was the very first member of the Victoria Hills golf club.” So you have it, good neighbors, it’s a DeLand thing. June 2021 Garden of the Month is awarded to Mark and Lynn Thompson !
Submitted by Cheryl Floyd,
Garden of the Month Chairperson
Driving east into Lake Lindley Village in north DeLand, a home accented by brightly painted murals catches the eye. The garden begins on the street side of the sidewalk and beckons the visitor to step on to one of many winding stone pathways that lead the eye into a wonderland of plants for the delight of humans and pollinators. This jungle paradise is affectionately named MeJesTique Forest Gardens combining owner Janice Spencer’s initials with those of her boyfriend and fellow gardener, Mark Schweder’s initials. This gardening duo has lovingly developed every inch of the property. Janice shares, “There are always at least twenty different flowers blooming. Everywhere you look, you will see blossoms for the pollinators. The garden feeds us, our friends, and creature people. When I started in 2004 there was only turf and sand that didn’t even support weeds. I began on the north side, working my way around my property. Mark joined me in 2007 and together we have enjoyed creating and expanding our green paradise.” Their ongoing act of love for nature and its produce has evolved over the last seventeen years to create a garden filled with edibles, nectar and larval plants with no lawn.
The entrance to the Southwest corner in front of the home leads to a winding stone path flanked by raised beds made from stacked concrete retention blocks. “Here we have established Regenerative Agriculture or lasagna gardening through no-till layering of organic compost made from horse manure shoveled and toted away from Spring Garden Ranch where the manure has been aired and aged for gardeners,” explains Spencer. She continued to list many of the edible plants including collard greens, Kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, Bok Choy, mustard greens, and potatoes. “Everything is organic. We use no herbicides, pesticides or fungicides.” Janice enjoys allowing the edible plants to bolt into their flowering stage to provide nectar for the pollinators. An herb section complete with dill and cilantro grace the people food garden area which is surrounded by more nectar plants like Pentas, a Cherries Jubilee Allamanda bush with pink and red blooms, Shrimp plants, purple and red fire spikes, variegated Vitex powder puff with pretty blue flowers and an Angel’s Trumpet draped with many blossoms in three stages of color: white, yellow and pink.
We pass a Jatropha tree adorned with red blossoms and enter the gated side garden area labeled, The Orchard, where a former sandbox existed; the soil has been enriched and produces an abundance of food. Along this stone path is a row of edibles including Red shield Florida Cranberries, Okinawa spinach, Chayote squash, banana trees, chia spinach leaf, Pigeon Pea, and bunching onions. The orchard utilizing this small section of a city lot also included Surinam cherries, fig trees, longevity spinach, blueberries, blackberries, lychee nuts, mulberry and more. As we walked along Spencer offered a pinch of this and a leaf of that to taste, a virtual moveable vegetative feast.
Colorful murals painted by the artist, Shannon Holt, continue from the front exterior walls of the home to the tall wooden privacy fencing that surrounds the three back gardens. Entering the secluded, private back garden there’s an array of multi-colored orchids and other plants in and around the trees providing a shaded area.
On the east sunny side, a hydroponic garden engineered by Mark, utilizes an irrigation system constructed with three connected rain barrels and recycled materials. Like a living grocery shelf, the layered hydroponic pipes reveal rows of greens, the first which had recently been harvested with several more plants ready to provide salads in the near future.
At the end of our tour we saw very hungry Monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed leaves while bees and butterflies flew around our heads. This garden has received several certifications including Monarch City DeLand Sanctuary certified by the DeLand Garden Club, Wildlife Habitat awarded by National Wildlife Federation and The Humane Backyard from the Humane Society. Janice Spencer, a Volusia County Master gardener, indicated her potting area recently emptied of over one hundred potted plants propagated for a Master Gardener distribution at the Volusia County Fair Grounds.
Janice and Mark’s MeJesTique Forest Gardens located in a residential neighborhood, at 821 Village Lake Drive, North in DeLand, offers an organic delight to the senses.
Submitted by Cheryl Floyd,
Garden Club of DeLand