|It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...|
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
|Living room arrangement of sunflowers grown at Pine Green|
Summer has managed to slow us down a bit, especially as far as yardwork, although we're still managing to put in several hours of work per week maintaining the yard. A couple of months ago I decided to create an experimental "garden" space (as opposed to landscape) on the east side of the property in front of the parking area. We'll likely rotate through various plants throughout the year, but I decided to start by planting a variety of sunflower seeds:
|Young sunflowers (foreground) - May 21, 2012|
|Sunflowers near their peak in July 2012|
We've also been trying to figure out the best low maintenance solution for the chimney's fountain and pond. The water tends to get green with algae quickly; algaecide is limited in effectiveness, and chlorine is too harsh for the pump system we have. So last week, inspired by one of our neighbors, as well as my experiences in lake management, we decided to experiment in converting it to a "living" system by cleaning the fountain thoroughly then adding a water lily and a submersed plant called coontail:
|Lily on the right; coontail more difficult to see on the left (underwater)|
Friday, May 11, 2012
We've been working on a lot of things at Pine Green over the past few weeks, mostly in the yard while the weather was still somewhat bearable. March marked the end of Pine Green's last traditional pine tree:
|Dead pine behind the playhouse|
|During tree removal|
|Norfolk Island Pine by the garage behind blooming azalea|
|Back yard in 2011|
|Back yard in April 2012|
|Front yard in 2011|
|Front yard in April 2012|
On a side note, our flag iris plantings were a case of mistaken identity. We had ordered giant apostle iris ("Regina iris") and the supplier ended up sending the wrong species, which turned out to be a type of flag iris (I still haven't identified the precise variety). Turns out it's a fairly common mistake in the industry, although the two types of iris are quite different. So we went out and bought some of the real giant apostle iris as well and planted them to provide some structure to the front yard.
|Front yard (northeast side) in 2011|
|Front yard (northeast side) in April 2012 - giant apostle iris in foreground|
The flag irises are more delicate and are struggling a bit now - we're trying to save as many as we can. Both types of irises have such beautiful flowers:
|Giant apostle iris (Neomarica caerulea 'Regina')|
Most folks we've talked to have loved the fact that we've opened the property up quite a bit and presented it back to the neighborhood. Not everyone of course - some liked the hidden mystery and wilder look. Over time, however, our new plantings will fill in, and we'll continue to add more, still keeping the place open but giving it more character. Maybe we'll win over nearly everyone one day :)
For now however, I anticipate we'll be doing less in the landscape over the summer and instead turning our attention to the house itself, as we still have many projects to work on inside and out.
Monday, March 12, 2012
A few weeks ago, one of my neighbors graciously gave me a copy of Grace Hagedorn's book Sam Stoltz - Artist. Builder. Decorator:
I had been wanting to get my hands on this book for months, ever since I began researching Sam. It's a wonderful biography of Stoltz and covers many of the Central Florida homes he built. Bill Bean, the previous owner of Pine Green, also dropped off some great photos and documents about Sam - a few of which I'm including in this post.
Sam Stoltz grew up in Nebraska, had his own art studio in Chicago, and moved to Orlando in 1925 at age 50 with his wife Patti to start a second career.
Sam also helped with the rebuild of the Dubsdread Club House in College Park after it had been destroyed by fire in 1934. Although it has since been extensively renovated, the Club House still features Sam's classic pecky cypress beams and Florida fieldstone fireplace, which looks very much like the one in my livingroom, albeit larger.
Sam almost always incorporated wildlife into his works in some way. He was referred to as the "world's greatest poultry painter." Sam had a plaster fresco technique with a whimsical artistry that was ahead of his time, as evidenced by the flamingo scene in my bathroom that I previously posted. On the outside of the chimney at Pine Green, we have slowly begun restoration of his plaster flamingos:
|Chimney after cleaning|
For now we've done a simple cleaning to remove some of the mildew stains. This alone brought much of the color of the flamingos back to light. Eventually, we may add some subtle color to fill in patches that have chipped away over time. We want to preserve some of the aged character of the chimney, so we don't plan to try to clean it back to pristine condition.
Over the past few weeks, we've continued to begin to implement Joe Brook's landscape plan for Pine Green, removing some plants and transplanting others to open the property up more and to prepare for some new plantings. Meanwhile, the huge azaleas are in bloom, reminding us that spring is about to begin, and we're looking forward to watching Pine Green continue to amaze us:
|Azaleas right before blooms opened|
|Azaleas in bloom|
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Our initial focus was to take care of one big ticket item before we moved most of our stuff in: termites.
|Tenting for drywood termites|
In order to prep the house for treatment, we had to trim away a lot of landscape around the home's perimeter. Even with all the precautions we took, we still lost some plants we wanted to keep once they did the fumigation.
One side benefit of the tenting - the pest control company successfully restored the flamingo sculpture that looked like it had a broken neck when I first saw the place.
|Flamingo sculpture before|
|Flamingo sculpture after|
The inside of the home, considering its age, is in great condition. We've mainly cleaned, moved in some furniture, artwork, and accessories, and have begun updating window coverings.
|Living room before|
|Living room so far|
So far we've found one "moneypit" item we didn't anticipate. Turns out the shower pan in the master bedroom had apparently been leaking for years, rotting lots of wood underneath:
|What lies beneath revealed (shower area during repair)|
|Shower before repair|
I rather liked it, but since we had to lose the matching flooring in the shower due to the pan repair, we decided to go ahead and retile everything for continuity. We chose a simple natural dolomite marble for an enduring look that would also work with the finishes of the rest of the home. It turned out very nicely:
|Shower repaired and retiled|
|Guest bath fresco|
Aside from that, we spent considerable time over the past weeks starting to "contain" the landscape a bit. Pine Green has a marvelous palette of plants... including the largest podocarpus trees (yes, trees) I've ever seen... but it is too overgrown, unmanageable, and a bit of a hodgepodge in some areas. While we love the forest in the middle of the City that is Pine Green, we think the house was a little too hidden, and so, under the guidance of our beloved friend and well respected landscape architect Joe Brooks, we've been selectively removing or thinning some plants in order to reveal and preserve the best that Pine Green has to offer. We've even been giving away a fine stock of plants to friends to use in their own landscapes.
|Front view before|
|Front view so far|
|Back yard before|
|Back yard so far|
|Driveway side before|
|Driveway side so far|
|Master bedroom rear side before|
|Master bedroom rear side so far|
Yesterday Joe presented us with a wonderful preliminary plan for updating the landscape and really showing off the place while also respecting its heritage... It will likely be a while (perhaps years) before we fully implement his vision. For now, we've come close to reaching a point where we can pause for a moment and contemplate the future.
Last week one neighbor passing by gave me the greatest compliment: "... it's like watching a present being unwrapped..."
|View from driveway before|
|View from driveway so far |
(note the 8+ ft tall professor sargent camellia by the sunroom that was virtually hidden before)
|Corner view from street before|
|Corner view from street so far|