Sunday, June 26, 2016

Blueprints and River Rock

Landscaping Plan For a New House

94 degrees and 95% humidity makes it feel like 105 degrees outside and it is only the first week of summer in southwest Florida.  Watching the maintenance and landscaping crews work makes you wonder how they can work so hard in the heat, dripping wet they go from one job to the next beautifying yard after yard.

Cute Renovation

This house looks very different with the huge old bougainvillea standard removed the schefflera rearranged and the addition of panama roses.  The stone and weed barrier will help this elderly couple reduce maintenance.  Hazeltine designs and installs jobs of all sizes.

Before Mostly Junipers

I have designed and sold a few projects in Bobcat Trail in North Port this year these newer homes have the builders package landscape plan which generally consists of the same tired, cheap  plants; shore juniper, cabbage palms, Washingtonian palms, flax lily, iris and grasses. 

Tear Out

The skid loader makes short work of removing the old juniper and the weeping bottlebrush. The bottlebrush was good looking but planted to close to the house.  Maintenance for Bobcat Trail is done by a major national company and they trim all the bloom from the bottlebrush even though the clients have asked them not to, I replaced it with a palm at the proper spacing.
Sun Impatiens, Oh Yeah

Flowers spilling out of a pot surrounding the lamp post with a great new jasmine vine really changed the look of this house.  The homeowners are really happy with the new look.
No Real Landscaping Before

Cleared Property Line
I did not have the opportunity to meet with the owner of this property but that did not stop us from helping out with the landscaping.  This rental is owned by a woman in Miami and she wanted a spruce help that would help facilitate renting.  HNI to the rescue.  This quick fix up included chopping back the bush on the neighbors empty lot, adding some curb appeal to the road side and making the backyard more family friendly. 
Adding Curb Appeal

Many of the jobs I design have multiple components and frequently owners are absent so it is up to HNI to deliver the project on time and on budget, it is a good feeling to work for a company that is capable of delivering what it promises.  I ran Millgrove Landscaping with that philosophy and am pleased to continue with those values.
Bagged Stone

Topdressing beds with landscaping stone whether bagged or from a gravel pit is an effective method to help reduce weeds.  Landscaping fabric or weed barrier is installed under the fabric and weeds are kept at bay.  Gravel pits are in short supply down here in flat Florida so all stone is imported from other states.  I traveled to a few of our stone suppliers last week and got an education on how the stone gets to our southern most state.  Very interesting.

At Conrad Yelvington stone of various is brought into their yard by railcar.  A spur allows the cars to pull over a large pit with a heavy steel grate.  The car doors are opened and the stone drops into the pit.  The pit has a conveyor that runs under the road and then to the above ground belt which dumps it into the trucks.
The Conveyor

This will give you  an idea of why stone costs so much in FL, back in IN we could just go to the gravel pit and buy stone for around $ 12.00 a ton, down here all that shipping translates into stone that costs $ 120.00 a ton.  But it was a pretty cool to watch the stone being delivered.

Been awhile since I was required to wear a safety vest and hard hat but I did not mind.  I would prefer to have my own hardhat and not wear someone else's but that's okay.

The Grate Over the Pit

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Florida Landscape Design

Loading the Shady Lady

In January I sold a 8" caliber Shady Lady Black Olive tree from our field.  Raphael and sons dug, loaded and planted the behemoth, I was impressed with their skills in getting the job done.  This single tree was one of the most expensive and impressive specimens that I have sold.  Hazeltine moves trees twice this size, that is some really heavy lifting. 

Strapping Her Down

August 1st will be my one year anniversary at HNI the last ten months have flown by, moving to Florida and settling into an entirely new routine, adjusting to city life and working on the house have filled the days. "Landscaping season" is opposite here in southwest Florida winter is peak sales time with "snowbirds", (seasonal residents ) mainly arriving in fall and leaving in spring.  Northeast Indiana where my business was located the seasonal folks opened their cottages Memorial Day and closed up Labor Day so those were the busiest months. 

Road Side Before

Deigning the landscaping and watching the installation at this house was a good experience.  The clients knew much of what they wanted and I made some suggestions along the way.  Corner lots are great and these folks bought the lot next to them and behind making theirs extra groovy.  Excavation took awhile but once that was complete Julio, James and Pablo were on track to install plants and irrigation.

After Landscaping

To install irrigation the county requires a backflow preventer.  The irrigation technician designed a water system coming directly off the main water supply, once that was installed Pablo began trenching and installing.

Trenching Irrigation Lines

Denise (the homeowner) and I went on a drive in the neighborhood so she could show me a bromeliad garden she really liked.  I drew a sketch for the excavator and he roughed in the island between two Sabal Palms, we planted 10 bromeliads 3 gallon and now Denise has room to collect and grow many more.

Bromeliad Island

Denise and John wanted concrete curbing installed which is a very durable product in Florida, about the only negative with concrete is that is not exactly adjustable.  In order to accommodate the curbing retrofit we left extra weed mat and stone, working with other contractors is often necessary in the trades.

This project has many components; landscaping, lighting, irrigation, drainage and hardscape, good thing Hazeltine does it all makes it all so much easier, no waiting for other people to get there end of the job completed.  The clients are not big fans of plants and maintenance so my design focused on pavers and function.  The paver entry welcomes you, the hose you can see will fit into a flower pot keeps the work load down for the clients.

Utility Walk

This paver walk leads to the garage utility door and makes setting out large trash bins a breeze.

Outstanding Entrance

Circle patio is plumbed for potted plants and makes a dynamic entrance.
Laying Pavers the Right Way

Laying in the final few feet of pavers where trash bins will be located.  Once the pavers are set the crew uses the flexible pvc to mark the line for cutting with the hand held concrete saw.  This process keeps the curves tight and looking great.
Concrete Destruction

Cutting out the old concrete to prepare for pavers was no easy task.  The hammer drill, chisels and concrete saw were all put to use.  I did not prepare the supervisor well for this so they were not real thrilled with me, but hey you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. 

Lots of projects going in, still working away in Paradise.

Queen Palm Seeds

Sunday, March 20, 2016



The first day of spring is bringing us some much needed rain, temperatures in the low 80's but a cold front is on the way which means one day in the high 60's and  hitting into the high 70's next week, not exactly what I would call a cold front.  I dig the endless summer that Florida provides, driving over bridges with sparkling water shimmering below, big noisy birds gliding down the canals, seeing monster gators lying in customers back yards, all pretty cool.


Milkweed is necessary plant for Monarch butterflies, they feed on the nectar and their caterpillars eat the leaves.  Monarch's are always flitting around in the nursery at work, I was choosing some milkweed for my gardens when I spotted this one.  Spring Festival is a tradition at Hazeltine Nurseries and the 13th annual event was a roaring
success again this year.


The nursery is loaded with a spectacular selection of fresh, colorful stock ready for cash and carry or professional installation.  Speakers from Hazeltine, Master Gardeners and Butterfly Garden experts gave short courses on a variety of topics and Michelle Hazeltine demonstrated how to mount air plants during the Friday night cocktail reception.


Leonardo Garcia is one busy man at Hazeltine he is the manager of the maintenance department and makes sure that the over 600 customers we service remain happy.  He spoke to a crowd Friday night and explained what sets Hazeltine's service apart from the mow and blow mentality of many other providers.


Leonardo is very busy but he always takes time to educate and inform both clients and those who work with him.  He has a positive attitude, calm demeanor and is extremely knowledgeable about his profession, a real asset to HNI.


The lady who probably knows the most about the nursery stock, plant identification and plant care is Petra, she has been at Hazeltine many years and is the go to person for designers, clients and staff.  Do not be fooled by her shy demeanor she is exploding with information.


Lisa is the office genie who goes the extra mile for anyone who needs her help.  She is the administrative assistant for Michelle and Stephen Hazeltine but her touch and skill is felt in many areas by much of the staff.  She keeps threatening to help me improve my computer skills but I think I might be a hopeless case.  Who knows with a smart cookie like Lisa teaching me I might actually gain some proficiencies?


Tear out is complete at this Sarasota location, part of the task included moving this bougainvillea standard they do not like to have roots disturbed so I anticipate it will defoliate soon.  Pavers are the next step at this job where parking is being added to the driveway along with a decorative travertine and grass circle, can not wait to see it completed.

The homeowner cut circles in his pool patio and will train this Jasmine to climb the post and spread across the second story of his home.  Wow it will really be fragrant when the Jasmine is blooming, but I am not sure I would want to clean up the leaves and dropped blossoms in my pool.  If you can dream it up we can do it.


The Purple Glory tree in the far left corner of this new landscape installation will be an
outstanding ornamental tree providing years of colorful blooms.  We just started this job last week and will also be installing a large DD Blanchard Magnolia, the client wanted a look of a English Cottage Gardens then the traditional Florida look.  I also added Tropical Hydrangea to the plan which will reinforce the cottage look, excited to see this one finished.


My first spring living in Florida  will be over before I know it and the heat of summer will arrive, the first seven months have gone by in a rush of excitement and learning I know I made the right choice moving here.  I am anxious to get in the mother ocean and do a little snorkeling, I love the water and the ocean.  I am going to try that stand up paddle board one day soon, they have a night trip that really sounds groovy.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cass Cay Restaurant

Ozark Stone 2 x2'

This snap cut Ozark stone is a rare find in FL but a product I readily used in NE Indiana. The applications are limitless; driveways, patios, benches, cap stones and
step pads to name a few.  I was happy to find these pieces in the boneyard at work this week, we will be using them to create two landings outside pool cage doors, love them took a million years to make and a million years to break.

Landscaping Before

New Design
Side Before

Transplanted Hibiscus Provide Pool Privacy

Sold this job on New Years Eve, the house was built as a spec home then sold.  The new owners added a swimming pool and extended the lanai which required landscaping.  The original landscaping around the front was a stuffed hodge-podge plants and weeds.  Rearrangement of the existing plant material and the addition of a few more plants gave this new home solid curb appeal.

Unloading At The Job

The men come well prepared and work hard to get the job done effectively and efficiently.  In this instance two trucks rolled up for this job each loaded with soil,
plants, tree carts, native boulders and pine bark nuggets.                                        
Pygmy Date Palms

Pygmy Date Palms are a versatile palm that grows to about 10 -12 feet tall, it grows well in full sun but tolerates some shade as well.  The pygmy like many other palms is available in many forms.  Single stem, double, triple and even quads.  They transplant well and can be used in smaller spaces.  They do have some thorns, you want to plant them about six feet from structures.                                                              

Big Native Boulders
  Building a new house is not without it's problems from Indiana to Florida I have witnessed that things don't always turn out how one plans.  A house that was originally designed to be built on stilts ended up with a stem wall instead, this change now requires retaining walls.  I visited this site and was told by the two women who are having the house built that their builder suggested they could construct their own retaining walls using these boulders, even offered his skid loader to help.  The size and shape of these boulders will make it difficult for even the most experienced mason or stone worker to build a proper wall.  Makes me wonder how a guy like that stays in business. 

Strutting Stork
This stork was strutting his stuff around a pond where I was taking some measurements, last week an egret landed within three feet of where I was talking to some customers and stood next to us for a few moments as if part of the conversation.  I heard of a birding location near Venice called The Celery Fields going to check that our when I have a chance.

Canary Island Date Chimney

Got to love this Canary Island Date that pokes its head out of the roof of Cass Cay Restaurant in Burnt Store Marina. The deck and roof are build around the majestic palm that appears to be thriving in this environment.

   Great Blue Heron
Captured this pole sitter waiting for a handout at the Cass Cay Restaurant.  Finding new eateries and locations to explore is part of the fun of moving somewhere new.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Florida Landscape Design

Baxter Digs His Hammock
Busy, busy, busy I am used to a landscaping season Florida just flip flops the time of year making this job my first steady winter gig in years.  Sure doesn't seem like winter with sunny skies and salt in the air, doubt that I will ever miss shoveling snow.

Garden Space Before Photo

Transformation In Progress

This was a fun design project, I have always been extremely fond of designing small spaces. It is a pleasure to work with a client who has the ability to see the vision and the good sense to let a designer lead the way.  The paver walk will unite the spaces in the backyard.

Before Photo Behind The Pool Cage

No More Mowing

Pavers install a bit easier in Florida, using the triangle of concrete as edging really locks in the sides, a little more difficult to hide but mulch works well.

Raphael Mulching Among The Crape Myrtle

Landscaping really changed the look of this house, the finishing touches of a make over that began almost two years ago.  A new design for the entire backyard and a
complete foundation planting of the road side, now screams curb appeal.
Clean Lines And Great Color, Oh Yeah
Designing in Florida has it's challenges, I am still experiencing a learning curve. Having a great support team at Hazeltine Nurseries,  sharing ideas with five skilled designers, cad techs, an extremely knowledgeable nursery staff and  dedicated, professional installation crews makes for a smooth transition.  Hooray Hazelteam!

We Got It All

Ready To Party
Today Sean and crew will be on site to finish up some odds and ends on this project.  The clients have added on and tweaked a bit more to achieve the look they have dreamed about. They are having a bit of a battle with Florida's large birds of prey feasting on the fishes in their pond, the fake gator doesn't seem  to fool the cranes and herons.

Charm And Balance

A new paint job and landscaping all four sides of the house increase the charm of this canal side home in Port Charlotte.  Beds that were once full of weeds, dead or over grown shrubs are now filled with colorful, proven winner plants that will grow quickly and be easy to maintain.  Getting the irrigation system up and running again required a new pump and a major overhaul but ace technician Tony was up to the task. I can't wait to see this one fill in.

Ixora Will Add Drama

We transplanted the big Pony Tail Palm on the right side and extended the bed to include the existing Queen Palm on the left.  The clients work and travel so stone
and weed barrier were installed to keep down the chores, they love the new look.
The pool deck concrete wall is a dark gray and soon the newly planted white Ixora will stand out with glorious blooms against the background.