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Long Awaited Garden Is like a Small Park

Nancy Moore sits in one of her favorite spots from which she can sell all over her parklike garden.

Nancy Moore grew up in an apartment with only concrete around it. She enjoyed playing in the dirt with a spoon and looked with longing through a chainlink fence upon a neighbor's garden with roses and green grass.

It was not until she was in her 50s that she finally started a garden of her own in Ohio, where gardening is relatively easy. Then she and her husband Jay moved to Sante Fe where it is relatively difficult.

"That venture involved landscaping; hauling rocks, mulch and soil, and designing plantings to supplement the rock garden that was already in the back and raised beds that already surrounded half of the house," she says. "I made many mistakes, I'm sure, but I was tickled pink to have the opportunity."

There she could grow apples, peaches, apricots, and iris as well as some plants we have never heard of such as chamisa or rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus, a high desert native shrub with strongly aromatic leaves and stems. She like the looks but did not care for the smell.

Still she was hoping they would retire there, but Jay's work brought him to the Tampa area and they found a house in Riverview almost five years ago. It had the typical builder's shrubbery in the front, and in the back: grass, some mud (from a poor drainage system) and two oak trees, one at either end of the yard. They had a French drain installed, a small patio put in, beds laid out and a garden finally planted, partly by a landscaper, and the rest by Nancy herself.

Since the house is on a curve, the front garden is small and the pie-shaped back garden quite large. The front looks neat but not unique from the street, but as one walks toward the door one pleasant surprise after another assails the senses. Junipers give the scene a scent of cedar and young ixoras blend their orange color with the grey rock mulch.

The front garden is small but full of colorful surprises.

A statue of St. Francis, for whom the city of Santa Fe was named, stands in a niche by the door artistically surrounded by foliage. And on the door is a colorful wreath with the greeting: Mercy, grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

The kitchen and family room look out onto a screened lanai where a fountain and water fall adds the sound of falling water and is surrounded by large pots of blooming anthuriums. Beyond that is an outdoor patio and all around the far perimeter against a privacy fence are planting of shrubs, vines, perennials and annuals, some in containers: bush daisies, crotons, a trumpet vine, Mona Lavender, salvia, Texas sage, a basil "tree" that has volunteered to raise itself, mint, sage, oregano, parsley, chives, Mexican petunias, alamanda, tibouchina, and peach hibiscus bushes, separated by variegated schefflera plants, firecracker geraniums in hanging pots, red begonias and a rosebush.

A bird of Paradise, orchids, and herbs in pots stand near the lanai door. With an expanse of excellent St. Augustine turf, it is no wonder that Nancy likes to sit on the patio or in the chairs near the fence "Then, resting in a watermelon slice of shade, spend time noting the colors and shapes..." as she writes in her garden poetry. She calls this long awaited garden her little park.

Two of the peach hibiscus are referred to in the family as Mr. and Mrs. Goliath. They were grown by her niece as part of her 4-H project and Nancy and Jay sat in the bleachers at the Plant Sale at the Manatee County Fairgrounds for over two hours at the plant auction to bid on them. Of course, these are the most expensive plants in the garden, but also the most cherished.

The containers and hanging baskets give Nancy a chance to rearrange as the sun, shade, and water patterns change and to keep on creating without expanding. "I figure this is about what I can handle," she says.

But she finds gardening, at last, a very satisfying passion. "When God sent Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and said they must till the ground from which from were taken, there was a blessing in that curse as well," she says. "Tilling the ground brings great satisfaction."

The back garden is a riot of color all year. She is especially found of blue flowers, but they don't show up well in a photo.

Anthuriums bloom around the fountain on the lanai.