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South Shore News

In gardening, it's great to have a little help from your friends


Published:   |   Updated: July 10, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Most gardeners may dream about what they themselves can do to make a good garden great, but few have someone who can help make those dreams come true.

Marvella Pfaffman knew that architectural additions could greatly enhance her garden. She had two helpers, she says. Both are named Jesus.

Marvella has a very close relationship with Jesus Christ and knows he uses many hands to do his work. In her garden, those hands belong to Jesus Vergara.

He built Marvella one of the largest and most attractive gazebos I've ever seen. It's located in the side garden, and in front of it is a Japanese sand garden. Vergara also made her a special rake to make designs in the white sand.

Beyond the screened pool enclosure, he built a 40-foot-long pergola that spreads from covering a path to covering an outdoor room, where she can show movies to her visitors.

Comfortable benches line both of these structures. Traffic whizzes past on the other side of the garden wall, but this bit of the world is peaceful, productive and beautiful. There are fruit trees, including a mango that produces great amounts of very sweet fruit every summer.

Two hammocks hang among the flowers. Vergara cut a barrel in half lengthwise and built two white wooden racks to hold them. Marvella painted flowers, butterflies and Kokopellis on the barrels and on the posts of the gazebo.

Many clerodendrums bloom along the back fence and golden shrimp plants surround the gazebo. Muscadine grapes grow on part of the long pergola and bougainvillea blooms above a smaller bench and pergola near the pool. I had no idea that pergolas could come in so many forms.

This is a garden for peaceful solitude or happy gatherings. It has expanded amazingly with the imagination of this young schoolteacher, her very skilled helper, and her Lord Jesus, who has showered her with blessings.

v vToday's pick is the clerodendrum, which comes in many colors and shapes - mostly shrubs, some vines. They are so easy to grow that some can become invasive. But many are quite useful and Marvella has used them well in large groups, especially the flaming glory bower - C. speciosissimum - with its intense red/orange clusters of tubular flowers. They are good butterfly nectar plants and bloom for a long time in the summer but require full sun for at least six to eight hours.

v vUpcoming events

If you're like some of us who have missed the annual plant sale at the Falkenburg Jail since it was discontinued, you'll be glad to know that Allen Boatman now teaches agriculture at Lavoy Exceptional Center, 4410 W. Main St., Tampa. He will host a plant sale on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until the plants are gone. The sale will be on Manhattan Avenue, north of Roland Park International School and east of Lavoy Exceptional Center. Please park in the Lavoy Exceptional Center parking lot.

If you can come and support these special students, you'll get good plants at low prices and help them to raise money to grow more plants. There will be lantana, elderberries, chives, periwinkle, sunflowers, yarrow, hibiscus and other herbs that bloom all summer. For more information, email allen.boatman@sdhc.k12.fl.us.

Monica Brandies is an experienced gardener, author and freelance writer who can be reached at monicabrandies@yahoo.com. Her website is www.gardensflorida.com.

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