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Saturday, Nov 01, 2014
South Tampa News

Tampa Garden Club offers tour of private yards, landscapes


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BALLAST POINT – Ken Jewett calls the hidden home he shares with his partner, Tom Hall, a “controlled jungle.”

Jewett constantly is trimming bamboo, bougainvillea, jasmine and other plants as well as separating and giving away hundreds of bromeliads that grow on the property near the Tampa Yacht Club.

“If you let everything grow, they will kill each other,” said Jewett, whose gardens will be one of the six private gardens featured on the April 13 Earthly Paradise Garden Tour.

Thus the bougainvillea grows along the side of the house and the jasmine covers a trellis above one entrance to the house. And never shall they be allowed to overlap.

The home, on four lots, appears as two houses combined but it is an original house and an addition. The original house was built about 25 years ago and the expansion made about 10 years ago. The home is filled with original art, collectibles, antiques, vintage furniture and pieces from around the world.

Hall, of Tucker-Hall Public Relations and Strategic Communications as well as a Broadway producer, is from Lakeland. The house is named Miromar, which was his family’s home. Jewett, who grew up in the Bay Crest area of Tampa, owns a real estate company and works for a federal benefits processing firm.

“We needed the house for all the art and the yard for my plants,” Jewett said. “We just designed all this. We like the oak arms; they hide the house.”

Twelve oaks are on the property, which also includes an Australian tree fern, gardenias and more. A single croton bush is all that remains from the landscaping on the part of the property they purchased in 2002 for the expansion.

One can walk completely around the property on a walkway, much of it made of crushed granite. Outdoor LED lighting is throughout, highlighting the pool area, statues and other pieces in the gardens. They bring in as many as 300 new plants each year – some of which are annuals – to change with the seasons.

“I love doing the plants – and Tom likes doing the fertilizing and the lights,” Jewett said. When in town, Jewett works about 30 a week on the garden.

A neighbor, who is a member of Rose Circle, the tour’s sponsors, asked them to participate.

“I took it as a compliment. I don’t think of it as anything special,” Jewett said.

Tour chairwoman Laura Gauthier disagrees.

“What I love is he has taken every part of this yard and turned it into something special,” she said. “You wouldn’t know it (the house) is even here.”

Other sites on the self-guided tour include homes in Bayshore Beautiful, Golfview and Beach Park. The tour also includes a musical tea party in Fred Ball Park on Bayshore Boulevard.

“There are so many different types of gardens – tiny, traditional, tropical and one with a family,” Gauthier said.

Tour proceeds will assist with the upkeep of Tampa Garden Club and Fred Ball Park and the circle’s community projects. Tickets are available by clicking here.

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