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Are Two Gardens Better than One?

Roseland Scriven has taken cuttings that root easily from this frilly hibiscus.

When Roseland Scriven and her family moved to their rural Seffner home, she was greatly impressed with the next door garden and the elderly lady who was the original owner of the house. Though Scriven, a Florida native, had learned her gardening from her grandmother and mother, she learned more from her neighbor. In gardening, there is something new to learn forever.

When her friend passed, another owner changed the garden considerably. The daughter of that family had her wedding there and Scriven did the flowers. And when the place came up for sale, the Scrivens bought it.

Ros calls it Roseland and has remodeled both the historic house and the garden. She is a licensed florist under the name of Weddings by Design, and does much of her floral work there. She is also a charter member of the Gardening for the Soul club and they have their meetings there, but the Scrivens still live next door.

"I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with the place," Scriven says, "but I want to use it to bring other people happiness." Her garden club sisters will attest that she has already done that. They share cuttings and fruit after every meeting. The house sits on 2 acres and looks more like a park than a private property. With some help from her uncle and a riding lawn mower, Ros Scriven maintains both gardens, though this one gets most of her time. She is also a Master Gardener, donating many hours a year to helping other gardeners.

Her basic good sense and working-with-nature attitude are among the secrets of her success. She has rain barrels and a compost bin and uses the oak leaves that drop as mulch. "I don't use much other fertilizer and I only water by hand and by hose close around the house," she says. "The rest of the garden lives on natural rainfall. She outlives the few pests the bother her plants and enjoys the wildlife.

This gazebo is the focal point of the large back garden.

She was concerned when wild hogs came, every night for about a week, and rooted up mostly the mulch she had just spread on the parking area. But they didn't harm much else and haven't been back since. She enjoys the foxes that sometimes wander through even while she is working there, the armadillos, and the wild turkey mother who stayed all last summer and raised her family there.

While the overall design of the garden is definitely ornamental, many of the trees are edible, including huge orange and grapefruit trees, Japanese plums, a single pear tree (most pears need two for pollination) that has large pears good for cooking and a delicious mango that had seventy large fruits this year. A very decorative grape arbor with two swing seats just finished yielding a great many muscadine grapes. There is a small area where she raises vegetables in the Roseland garden and a large area on the other property.

The Roseland property has no driveway. A chain link fence separates it from the road and is almost completely hidden by flowering vines and decorated with wrought iron gates, a small one at the end of the walk to the mailbox, and larger double ones just north of the house leading into a shady parking area with a green ground cover of "lawn weeds" like basket grass that take less mowing and have no pest problems.

Though the soil is richer than most in our area, it doesn't get muddy and there has never been a problem of anyone getting stuck. There isn't even a tire track. Concrete and blacktop driveways can be bland to ugly focal points of a garden while they are not at all friendly to either the planet or the pocketbook. The same can be said for manicured turf. This place looks better for having neither.

A trellised entry and several other trellises near the house combine with excellent garden art used with fine flair.

Two gardens might be too much for some of us. But there is no doubt that Ros Scriven's two gardens are an amazing achievement.

This gazebo is the focal point of the large back garden. A giant orange tree is loaded with fruit. Its branches are growing up into a 100 year old oak.
Now's the time to...
Confess: two gardens even the size of the one I have would kill me. It might be a great way to go, but I'm not looking for any more land. Actually I have two now, one at home and a small one at church. When gardens were vegetable plots, I had two small onea and a big one out behind the barn in Ohio. You can't have too many flower beds. You'll run out of yard first. But you can have too much garden work to enjoy it. So if you are wishing you had more land to plant, and I often do, face reality. Do you really have the time or energy? Better to have a small one you love than a big one you hate.