Thursday, August 26, 2010

Two Years Vacant in Florida = 1 billion Weeds!

It's been a long spring and summer - fighting the weeds at our new (old) home in Jacksonville, Florida. After being vacant for two years... Craziness! Being sustainable has seemed overwhelming.
Little by little we've been digging out - trying to start a compost pile - pulling out weeds and removing some not so healthy looking shubbery. We even had to take down a very old very sick Laurel Oak. (I cried... but the arborist pointed out that it was on its way down one way or the other).

We took down ivy that was tearing apart our mortar in between bricks. I cried about that too - but John pointed out - bricks were warmer than ivy in the winter - and so I continued pulling it all down... 

Our lawn in the front yard was comprised of one part grass to 25 parts strange weeds. We discussed options... trying to make the weeds green and full and just mowing it to make it look pretty, landscaping the whole thing and getting rid of the "lawn", putting in perennial peanut.... In the end - because of simplicity and cost - we ended up resodding. Maybe not the most sustainable decision - but definitely instant gratification. (if 2 months of prep work qualifies as instant gratification.

I'm super pscyhed about the end result when I pull in to the driveway now. Little by little we are making progress. I can't wait till all this manual labor is manageable and we can really start to be creative with a garden.  First thing on my list... to cover up the lovely squirrels lurking in our iron work by the front door. Whoever thought squirrels were in good taste... was wrong. 

But the best thing about Florida in the summer (at least with some plants) is that it is hot and humid and things are growing fast. I planted jasmine in June and it has started to cover the iron work. Can't wait till this is all green!

And then window boxes! Less is more - I love these textures in an all green window.

What are some things I really want to do? Well landscaping... and that's on the schedule for this Fall. Hopefully all native (or as many native as possible) plants. Ideas? I'd love to hear them. But really more fun is a living wall. We've got some big open brick wall spaces on our back patio... Perfect for a living wall. Check out the gallery at Bright Green.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Today feels like spring! 70 degrees in northeast Florida after two weeks of very cold weather. I started daydreaming about the garden (or future garden) in the backyard of our hopefully soon to be new home. This is a crazy project - but one I am super psyched about. The garden is overgrown in some places - dead in others... and a bit overwhelming to begin to envision what it might be.

I feel that it has the potential to become what I most loved about Charleston - an eclectic, warm and inviting always changing garden that surprises it's visitors at every twist and turn.

I am a bit scattered in my sense of style. I love modern lines, simple, uncluttered spaces, english gardens overflowing with perennials, vintage vases, old books, warehouse lofts, industrial design, window boxes, black and white and lots of color... how this will all come together in a cohesive garden is a bit unclear.

As we don't own the house yet... I'll continue to daydream. Here are a few sources of my garden, landscape and exterior design inspiration:

Flora Grubb Gardens
The owner of this San Fran garden center, Flora Grubb, is seriously my idol. Amazing garden center, amazing sense of style and design... and freakin' killer name.

Islandscape Landscaping
The owner of this landscape design firm in Charleston, Greg Watkins, is a friend and an idol of mine. He has taught me more about plants than I thought I'd ever know. Check out his amazing work.

Petersham Nurseries
This nursery in England is so what I wanted A New Leaf Studio to become I can't stand it. All of my favorite things in one place: flowers, plants, a cafe, etc.

Glenn Certain Studio
This floral design studio in my new neighborhood is amazing! Yea Jacksonville!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A New Year... A New Life... A New Leaf

2010 feels like a breath of fresh air and the beginning of a new era. Big stuff... I've closed my flower shop, moved to Florida and gotten married.

Closing the doors of A New Leaf Studio was hard to do. My dream. When I was 10 I told my mom that I wanted to own a flower shop. If you've known me since - you've probably heard me talk about it or you've seen one of my business plans.

I took a leap in 2007 and left a great job to give it a whirl... probably one of the best things I've ever done.

I loved working for myself... loved the creativity of it... working with people.... the marketing of my dream, the ego boost from doing a good job and the joy of making someone happy.

I did not so much love working every Saturday until midnight... cleaning flowers... trying to make a profit... and the anxiety I felt about other people's weddings.

When a mentor of mine asked - "would you still be doing this if money wasn't an issue"... I realized I would definitely keep the business but I'd stop doing weddings... and since weddings were 80% of my business things needed to evolve.

So for now - in the name of love and change - I've taken a hiatus from the flower biz and am rethinking the plan. I intend to focus on small personal projects - like our garden and my dear friend Jenny's wedding flowers in April.

So this blog evolves with A New Leaf... as spring emerges (which comes early in Florida I presume) - I'll use this as a place to post things I learn about gardening, floral design, and interesting tricks of the trade. Who knows - maybe A New Leaf Studio - phase II will unveil itself in the process.