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
“ Choice Flowers Brighten Garden Of The Month”
It has been said that April showers bring May flowers, but this garden has had an abundance of blooms all winter long.
Steve Lahiff and his wife Lisa moved into their new home at 729 n. Florida ave. in DeLand six months ago. They quickly and expertly transformed it into a stunning display of color, using winter annuals as well as perineal flowers. This garden is a shining example of how one may add some much needed flair to one’s landscape during the gloomy winter months. Choice plantings include snapdragons, petunias, pansies, and dianthus, which will all surely perish over the course of our sweltering summer, however, gazing upon the cheerful blossoms on a dreary March morning conjures a glimmer of hope that spring is approaching.
Mr. Lahiff recounts that he “caught the gardening bug” at a young age. His mother loved flowers and his father kept the yard meticulously groomed at their home in southern Florida. Over fifty years later, Steve’s passion continues to grow. His gardening enthusiasm is obvious and infectious. Apparently that gardening bug is highly contagious!
Our Garden of the Month award recipient for April 2021, Mr. Lahiff, is also the owner and operator of Garden’s by Steve LLC. For over 18 years he has blessed our town with some iconic garden areas, the style of which is quite unique, and always eye catching. He would like to take this opportunity to offer “A special thanks to the community of DeLand, both residential and commercial, for allowing us to serve you as we have grown as a family and a business.” In turn, the Garden Club of DeLand wishes to thank Steve and the Lahiff family for their hard work in creating this outstanding garden oasis.
Garden of the month chairperson
The Garden Club of DeLand
Garden of the Month Provides Food for Wildlife and People The Garden of The Month award for March has been presented to Master Gardener,Carolyn Kieler and her husband Don
at 2446 Lake Talmadge Drive, DeLand. The Kieler's garden includes environmentally friendly Florida native plants as well as luscious vegetable gardens. Carolyn abides by the philosophy that everything she grows should feed something, be it wildlife such as butterflies, bees, birds or people. One might say, it's a "garden of eatin' ". Since moving into their home in 2014, Carolyn, a certified Master Gardener since 2004, has added approximately 75 different species of Florida native plants to her landscape. She created the garden beds herself, using a shovel to remove turf grass. After the installation phase, Carolyn wanted a garden with minimal maintenance, hence the choice to go native. Kieler has utilized mulch extensively to control weeds, and her drought tolerant plants do not require an irrigation system. The garden has been certified by the Garden Club of DeLand as a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Garden. Don is the muscle of the operation, and is happy to handle the heavy lifting for his lovely wife. A skilled carpenter, he has constructed sturdy raised garden beds for growing vegetables and
herbs. Mr. Kieler is also quite knowledgeable about landscaping, and stated that his favorite tree is the weeping yaupon holly. In addition to gardening at home for pleasure, Carolyn volunteers as a Volusia county UF-IFAS Master Gardener. She is the leader of the team which works in the Children's Discovery Garden, who oversee planting, adding hardscape, and general maintenance, creating an educational outdoor space, which appeals to children of all ages. Carolyn says that gardening keeps you young at heart. Her enthusiasm for plants and providing food for wildlife is an inspiration, and her expertise is asset to our community. Congratulations to the Kieler's on a job well done! Article and photos by
Garden of the Month Erin Miceli, Chair
Garden of the Month Provides Food for Wildlife and People
The Buzz Around Natives;
The Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center Wins Garden of the Month Award
When it comes to gardening, February is a time for planning. As daylight hours slowly grow longer, gardeners can look forward to the future and envision what may come to be in the spring. Student research assistants / project managers Jenna Palmisano and Carson Bockoven along with the crew at Stetson University have been planning and working diligently to create their newest installation of stellar horticultural displays. The pollinator garden at The Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center has been designated as February's Garden of the Month on behalf of the Garden Club of DeLand. Located along the shore of Lake Beresford at 2636 Alhambra Ave.
The 10 acres of land surrounding the center include native plant species selected to attract pollinators, as per the vision of benefactor Sandra Stetson, who is the great granddaughter of John B. Stetson. The natural lands are being cultivated to include educational botanical garden displays highlighting the discoveries of 18th century botanists, John and William Bartram. This latest addition to the project broke ground in the spring of 2019 beginning with the removal of sod to define the garden beds, and the installation of drip irrigation. Dr. Jason Evans Associate professor of environmental science and studies, worked with the Stetson grounds crew, led by the now retired manager of the grounds, David Rigsby ( whom much of the landscaping magic was credited to), as well as students from the University's conservation biology class taught by Dr. Kirsten Work. Funding was provided in part by The West Volusia Audubon Society and the Duke Energy Foundation.
"The pollinator garden at the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center is the first step in the transformation of the landscape from a manicured site to one that better serves natural systems and welcomes wildlife. We look forward to seeing how the native plants adapt and establish in this beautiful landscape as we continue to maintain the space and add more natives.", said Palmisano.
Native plant species chosen for the newest installation include nectar sources and host plants for butterflies and other pollinators. Wildflowers include native milkweed, dotted horsemint, scarlet sage, tickseed, false rosemary, blazing star, dune sunflower and more.
The new garden will also include a community seed bank. Jenna explained, "The idea of our seed library is to create a community in which students, faculty, aquatic center neighbors, garden clubs, etc. can have access to native plants and share resources. We will kick off our seed library at our reception on 2/15 with a wildflower seed giveaway. The goal is to have people plant the native wildflowers in their gardens, harvest some seeds from well-established plants, and put them in the library to complete the cycle (and of course take more!)." The reception, "The buzz around natives; a toast to improving Stetson University's landscape will be held at The Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center on Saturday February 15th at 5:00 p.m
Kudos to all involved in making this project a success, and to Stetson University for their continuing commitment to beautifying our town in spectacular fashion.
-submitted by Erin Miceli
Exploring a Spanish Mission Style Garden Courtyard at FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital.
As we enter the roaring '20's, a roaring, wild garden is the natural choice to receive the first Garden of the Month award of the new decade. On behalf of the Garden Club of DeLand, FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital, located at 115 East Euclid Avenue, is being honored as January's recipient for outstanding planting and maintenance.
The Gardens were designed and are tended to with love by Maggi and Ron Hall for their daughter, Dr. Erin Holder, who opened her practice in 2004. Upon entering the courtyard through the wrought iron gate one feels as if he or she may have been transported to St. Augustine as a proper Spanish Mission style garden is an uncommon sight in DeLand. The eye is drawn to the grand water feature grounding the center of the courtyard. Stone lions’ heads appropriately grace each side of the fountain surrounded by bold, warm, complementary colored tiles. Tropical plants filling each corner have reached their mature sizes creating a lush, complete look. Ti plants, firebush, and firecracker plants add pops of bold color while variegated Schefflera provides contrast. Philodendrons, sansevieria, and Spanish bayonet play off of each other’s forms and textures creating visual interest. Palms flank the entrance balancing the design while adding vertical appeal and crucial element to include when planting space is limited.
Maggi and Ron, both born in Florida, met while attending Stetson University in 1964. After
Maggi retired from her career as a special education teacher in South Carolina after 30 years and Ron as a college professor, the Halls returned to DeLand while Erin attended the University Of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine where she concentrated her studies in avian, exotic and integrative medicine. In October of 2000 the Hall family began the process of restoring the derelict buildings on the corner of South Woodland Boulevard and East Euclid Avenue. After 6 years and 28 days the project was completed. Maggi was recognized for her tremendous accomplishment with the “2006 Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Individual Achievement Award” for this endeavor. Photographs and details of her outstanding work can be viewed on their website at www.FloridaWildVetHospital.com.
Maggi reflected on her labor of love and had this to say: "I wanted the courtyard to feel like pet owners and their furry babies had stepped into a tranquil setting - a wild Florida environment (FloridaWild!). The environment filled with live plants, flowing water, and comfortable seating adds peace and harmony. So many of my daughter's clients and their pets feel less anxious; in other words the "white-coat" syndrome often vanishes when they enter our garden. In fact, many clients wait outside rather than the sitting rooms until it's their turn to see a doctor." Without a doubt the Hall and Holder families have made quite the impact on our town helping pets live their best lives. -submitted by Erin Miceli
A Historic Home Revives A Modern Garden Update
The final Garden of the month award for 2019 goes to Ms. Stacie Jones. Presented by the garden club of DeLand, Jones's garden was chosen after a recent update was completed in the front yard. The Mediterranean revival style home located at 721 N. Arlington Ave. was designed by noteworthy architect Gouverneur Medwin Peek. Peek additionally designed many landmark structures in DeLand. This building was completed in 1926.
Jones purchased the home in 2013, and since that time has made great strides in improving the landscape aesthetic appeal. Though the grounds had been maintained throughout the years, they lacked in botanical interest. Turf grass, ligustrum hedges, and azaleas, standard plant choices in Central Florida since the 1950's, left Stacie underwhelmed. Last year she began some major upgrades, starting with the back yard. “I wanted to update my yard by planting native plants to reduce the overall space taken up by a lawn and bring in more hummingbirds and butterflies." said Jones of her garden goals. A monoculture of turf grass was removed to add a stone fire pit, and a matching raised herb planter. A wooden pergola was constructed, as well as another unique raised planter with a trellised backing. The planter was filled with edible plants, including a variety of herbs, fruits, and edible flowers. The trellis was quickly covered by native passion vine, edible for humans and a larval host plant for both gulf fritillary and zebra longwing caterpillars. Great care was taken in the selection of plants on account of Stacie's beloved Weimaraners, Skye and Blitz. The to-be-installed plants were cross checked against their allergen list as well as toxicity for canines. The duo ultimately destroyed Jones's new bromeliads, presumably in their excitement over their beautiful new backyard habitat, a small loss compared to the overall garden success.
The front yard update was completed in autumn of this year with the assistance of landscape architect David Schroeder, Evolving Landscapes LLC., and friends. Pollinator attracting beds are situated to the north and south. The South end containing a hot "Fire Garden", with red tubular flowers to attract Ruby throated hummingbirds in the summer months. Fire bush, fire spike, and firecracker plants add color and thematic intrigue. Cobalt blue glazed planters near the entrance add a modern, polished look while still coordinating with the Mediterranean style of the home. Coquina stone boulders were expertly arranged to create a terraced garden bed on the incline facing westward
Neighbors and passers by can look forward to seeing this lovely new landscape mature over the coming years.
Congratulations and thanks to Ms. Jones for improving and beautifying her corner of DeLand. Other Delandites may find they have a hard time "keeping up with Jones' " garden. -submitted by Erin Miceli
November's Garden of the Month award has been presented to Gene and Carol Roddenberry of 529 N. San Souci Ave. DeLand, Florida.
The Garden Club of DeLand recognizes the Roddenberry's exceptional efforts to enhance their landscape. Luscious foliage and flowers combine with pollinator friendly blooms to create a distinct tropical oasis atmosphere.
After retiring from Brevard County schools as a principal, and upon moving to DeLand in 2015, Carol joined the Garden Club of DeLand. It was there that she learned more about gardening for pollinators, including bees and butterflies. She joined the club's new Milkweed Circle and volunteers on the butterfly squad, who certify Monarch Butterfly
Sanctuaries through the Monarch city USA program. Naturally, the Roddenberry's garden is also a certified sanctuary. Butterflies and bees happily buzz and flitter about, grateful for the plentiful nectar sources. In 2019 Carol, affectionately known to her friends as C_Rod, graciously accepted the position of President of the Garden Club's Rose circle.
The two story Craftsman house, built in 1921, had a " blank canvas" landscape back in 2015. A large live oak tree in the back yard provided leaf litter throughout the years, enriching the soil as the leaves decomposed. The Roddenberry's began installing pathways to delineate garden bed space. Empty spaces soon sprang to life with an assortment of tropical beauties. Australian tree ferns, crotons, coleus, Pagoda flowers, and ginger thrive in the dappled shade of the old oak tree. The tree additionally provides the benefit of a bit of frost protection from winter weather.
The Roddenberry's love collecting various ginger specimens. Gene estimates that they have over a dozen species to date, including some rare varieties such as the variegated Hedychium "Dr. Moy". Mr. Roddenberry also has a penchant for collecting orchids and hoyas, adding to the tropical feel. No herbicides or pesticides are sprayed on the property, as wildlife habitat conservation is a top priority here. Congratulations to Gene and Carol on their gardening success!
The Garden Club of DeLand has presented Jason Schley of Schley's Bonsai and Supplies at 2745 Audubon Ave., DeLand with The Garden of the Month award for October. Recently featured on Fox 35's Good Day Orlando program, Mr. Schley's property, located beside Lake Woodruff National Wildlife refuge, encompasses 12 acres which include multiple gardens, event venues, and a bonsai nursery. Prior to the freeze of 1984, this land was home to a citrus grove. Outlying areas retain historic Florida charm, filled with native plants including old growth live oaks and saw palmettos, which will remain intact and serve as habitat for native wildlife.
Jason purchased this property in 2011 and has since been working tirelessly, along with his team, to build the gardens of his dreams. His interest in the art of bonsai began in 1991 as a teenager. Schley’s Bonsai and Supplies is now the largest bonsai nursery in central Florida, and hosts the monthly meetings of the Kawa Bonsai Society. Meetings are held on the 3rd Saturday of each month and are open to the public.
Serene Asian inspired garden areas include a large koi pond, 10 species of bamboo, as well as specimen bonsai featured throughout the property. Shaded paths allow for easy access through tropical garden areas showcasing philodendron, ginger, lilies, orchids, and other lush tropical plants. Each bed is tastefully decorated with cute surprise details, creating wonderful photo opportunities for guests of all ages to enjoy. An edible garden can present a challenging endeavor for homeowners in west Volusia, but Jason is successfully growing an array of crops which add visual interest and yield tasty treats. Peaches, nectarines, pears, mangos, pecans, guava, blueberries, bananas, blackberries, grapes, and more are currently growing. Schley’s goal is to create a 3 acre botanical garden, with Asian and eclectic themes, which will be open to the public.
The Garden Club of DeLand commends Jason on his ongoing efforts to add beauty, culture, education, and art to our community.
An annual Fall Festival will be held on Saturday November 9th from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. This family friendly event will include a sale, demonstrations, raffles, and free food and drinks. For more information, visit Schleybonsai.com
Submitted by Erin Miceli; Garden of the Month Chairperson
The Garden Club of DeLand recognizes Vicky Shanley's Florida friendly cottage style garden as September's Garden of the Month. This well maintained garden surrounding this 1923 craftsman bungalow style home located at 223 S. Salisbury Avenue, has been evolving since purchased in 2010. All turf grass has been removed and replaced by lush plantings, coquina shell pathways, and raised bed planters. A self described “lazy gardener”, Vicky's garden concept included a low maintenance yard with Florida native plants, which would live and self seed with no need to be pampered, heavily pruned, repeatedly watered or excessively fertilized. In 2012 she hired local firm Evolving Landscapes LLC. to help bring her vision to life. Ironically, after selecting this local business whose focus mirrored her personal landscape goals, she learned that her home was previously owed by the firm’s landscape architect and owner!
As her garden continued to grow over the course of the past 7 years, several unique features have been added to Ms. Shanley's property to form a cohesive space with points of interest visible from each angle. The front yard faces east behind a low wrought iron fence. On the sunny southern side butterflies flitter in abundance, attracted by dwarf firebush shrubs and purple passionvine. A Zen rock garden planted with succulents and plumeria adds an eclectic touch. The north side receives dappled shade courtesy of a shared tree line with her neighbors. Plantings have been expertly arranged to thrive in the shade here including both Florida native and Florida friendly plants. Ferns, bromeliads, dwarf mondo grass, wild coffee, blueberries, gingers and caladiums bloom and grow, where traditional turf grass once struggled from lack of sufficient sunlight. A seating area nestled under the trees provides a wonderful respite to beat the heat, and enjoy the view.
Entering the backyard through a garden gate, one is again treated to a flurry of butterflies that come to feast on the nectar provided by a variety of flowers planted for their benefit. An extensive coquina shell pathway adds a distinctly Floridian flair and does much to simplify maintenance. In 2018, a stone raised bed with quadrant planters was constructed in a circular pattern. At waist level, Ms. Shanley can tend to and harvest her impressive herb collection with ease. In the center of the circle a single loquat tree provides both tasty fruits in season as well as lovely dark green foliage year round. Ms. Shanley, her family and friends enjoy this backyard oasis from her newly installed paver seating area.
The Garden club of DeLand congratulates Vicky Shanley for her efforts to beautify her corner of our town.
Erin Miceli, Chair
David Diaz, Photographer