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Peace Flows through the Summeralls' Garden

Sharon Summerall, a yoga teacher in Seffner, poses in the garden that surround her new studio.

Gardens are great ways to make new and wonderful friends and vice versa: friends can help one make a beautiful garden.

Although they have lived in their Seffner home for 16 years and had the basic landscaping, Sharon and Charlie Summerall have only been gardening seriously for the last two years. "I tried to plant things before and they didn't do well," Sharon says. "That soil was often too wet."

"My friend Carolyn Wildes made a plan for me," Sharon says. The Wildes garden, one of the best ever, was featured in this column on May 25, 2005. Carolyn has given her friend not only a beautifully drawn plan but inspiration and assurance of success, and it is working well.

The Summerall's new garden started just after they built a garage and put a studio above it for the yoga classes Sharon teaches. The garden plan covers the area between the pleasant screened back porch of the house, the driveway on one side and the garage/studio on the other. On the far side new gardens are already extending.

Sharon has a flair for container gardening as well with two groups of three large pots at the entrance from the drive and parking area. The plan didn't call for trellis, but they added two purchased ones and Charlie built another wooden one on the far side.

"That's a pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) in the center and we decided to keep it since it is evergreen and has showy flowers in the spring," Sharon says. The flowers are also edible and so is the fruit, which many such shrubs never produce but this one does. Multi-colored yellow and orange flowered dwarf lantana blooms on one side and is climbing the shrub as well for color in other seasons.

Sharon is also an artist with mosaics, and has made several colorful stepping stones, including two with butterflies in the design that grace the butterfly garden. She is presently working on a bird bath and then plans to do many more of the still plain stepping stones which she takes to her work area one by one. She uses broken dishes and glassware from garage sales and Good Will for the mosaics.

Mosaic stepping stones with butterflies in the motif decorate the butterfly garden.

Sharon adds music from the studio that, with the bubbling fountain and subtle wind chimes, adds much pleasure to the scene. After Christmas she bought some more white lights to light up the garden at night. The long staircase to the studio adds additional interest, and under the stairs she has a herb garden in the ground and herbs hanging to dry in bunches from the stairs.

They are extending the garden now to the open area to the south of the house where and they have big plans. This section will be visible from the wide windows of the yoga studio and Sharon also plans to put in a platform for doing yoga in the garden itself. With trees just beyond, already thriving there are her Vanda orchid, bromeliads, coleus, begonias, ferns and a variegated-leaved ginger.

Bird feeders are carefully placed all over the garden but the birds' favorite is the tall platform with the statue of a frog. A raccoon has made the garden his home and sometimes even peeks in the back door. He hasn't done much harm, though his presence has ruled out a fish pond for the time being. They plan to get rainbarrels and put fish in them. Peacocks often visit and are welcomed though the neighbors don't like them at all.

Two new grand babies have inspired plans also for a new bridge over the wetland into the woods and a fairy garden beyond that. Once gardeners taste success there is no stopping, and success is hard to avoid in spite of our poor soil, frost (that came the day after these photos were taken), and other problems. Gardens, the friendships and the pleasure they bring, all keep growing right past the problems.

Containers gardens mark the entrance to the garden area and to the studio.

For yoga class infromation call Sharon at 695-1792.


Now's the time to...

  • Sharon Summerall has been to the compost workshop at the Extension Office and bought herself a used compost bin that she can turn. "The other day I took off the top and smoky steam came out. I was so excited," she say, as this means the pile is heating enough to decompose quickly and burn out most weed seeds, insect eggs and diseases. She also brings home free coffee grounds from Starbucks ( the one at SR60 and Mt. Carmel or on Lithia Pinecrest below Bloomingdale on the right). "The coffee ground make the composter almost too heavy to turn, so I often just spread them on the ground," she says. The compost may be one of the main reasons for her success. She can hardly believe how much most of the plants have grown.
  • Sharon keeps a very neat and complete garden notebook with all details of the plan and the plants, new ideas to try, records of what she has planted where and how it is doing. Such a record can accentuate successes and keep failures from repeating.

Charlie Summerall built this handsome trellis and lath work
that holds a blooming Clerodendrum thomsoniae or bleeding heart.