My Secret Garden - Participant# 101 || 2004 Contest

My Precious Garden
by Kendra Sharik (Sebastian, FL USA)

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My name is Kendra Sharik. I live in Sebastian, FL. My husband and I are transplants from up north. We only moved here last September (2003) from Mattapoisett, MA.

a before picture
of the garden

The house we bought was owned by an older couple who had a low maintenance (no plant) lawn. The "garden" was mostly palm trees and river rock. I knew it would all have to go when we moved in.


This one of the with a lot of progress made...

I didn't know where to begin (I'm used to growing lilies and hostas and things that grow in the colder weather). All I knew is I had to dig up all those rocks and the old mulch and plastic that was underneath. UGh...what a mess. I fought red ants and the hot sun. About 45 wheelbarrows later, I got back down to good old Florida sand. I began with about 10 bags of composted cow manure.

Cinnamon vine

Ever since I've been experimenting with different plants. I had to learn a lot. I spend a lot of time on different web sites trying to research plants and order stuff. Top Tropicals became my quick favorite. The information was priceless. So now after less than one year... I have a good start (almost all the plants I choose are perennials, so next year...won't be such a daunting task). I have also tried to "recycle" the old stuff left behind by the previous tenants and incorporate it all into one big happy growing family!


Blooming southern magnolia
(dinner plate size blossoms)

My zebra of the yard...

Meteore crocosmia

Sunshine tree: Erythrina indica-picta

I am shocked to see that the meteore crocosmia that I planted actually bloomed! I planted it not knowing it's not supposed to do well in Florida at all. Well, it's a very small plant, but did bloom and very pretty.


Cherry jubilee Allamanda from TopTropicals


Bougainvillea (yellow)


Hibiscus (they are on this ugly scraggley looking tree). :) They were here when we moved in, and I've been getting them healthy

Bougainvillea Twilight delight

Gardenia Tubifera Kula

These are ones that have just bloomed in the last few days...

Senecio Confusus


This is my first blossom on my new very young clematis vine. I guess it will be a double bloom as the plant gets established and the season is ideal for it.

Portulaca grandiflora

Here are some of my low growers... the perslane. They surround my stepping stones which I did in mosaic to try to add some color.

It is so vibrant in the early morning sun...


My Stephanotis has gone crazy this past week, and has gone through about 5 or 6 blossoms (and I didn't get any great photos). Wish you could smell!

My herbs

Delicious Genovese Basil





These are my nasturtiums

Tiny beauties (not sure what they are called)

Here is a picture of my Paulownia Tree or Royal Empress tree. It is little still. They are really amazing trees. You can cut them off a the trunk, and they will re-grow themselves from their own roots. They are also one of the fastest growing trees. They have been known to grow 10-20 Feet a season! They have big fuzzy leaves and when they are mature they will flower a lavender colored flower. Ours is little and they say if you get a new sprout up in the spring, to cut the OLD ONE back! So we did that, and now, the new one is growing stronger and faster! amazing. I only cut it back about a week ago.

The story goes that in China and Japan, they would plant a paulownia tree when they had a daughter, and by the time she is married off, the tree is mature and big enough to cut down for wood to make her some furniture and a fine instrument. Also some extra lumbar for other things. The seeds pods from a mature tree hold thousands of fuzzy seeds that China used to use for packing material on exports to the United States and elsewhere, so that's how we have them here. There is a lot more amazing information about these trees online.

My stepping stones

Sunflowers are fun to look at

We grow a small crop of Sunflowers every now and then.
They take about 3 months start to finish, but a very showy and fun to watch grow!

I am hiding amongst them
in this picture!

5-way cocktail citrus

5-way cocktail citrus tree.

Here is a picture of small citrus tree we have.

It was the first tree we got when we moved in (we got it in October of 2003).

It is a 5-way citrus tree, otherwise known as a cocktail tree. It has each branch of different citrus including...Ruby red grapefruit, Myers Lemmon, persian lime, Navel orange, and Honeybells. It has been fun.

So far the Lemmon Branch has been the most prolific.

Our first lemmon -
compare to a grocery store lemmon.

Here are a few of my garden dwellers...

This morning when I was watering my sunshine tree, out wriggled a few very small baby bunnies. I put them back in, and will make sure that Mommy bunny comes back regularly. (See more pics of Bunny Story: Update 1, Update 2.)

Also a very large wolf spider that must have been enjoying the bugs around. I'm not so fond of this visitor!


A tree frog that eats my mosquitos at night.

Gophe tortoise



Anyway... it might not look like much, but considering it started as rocks and red ants, many blisters later, and only in it's first year, it is precious to me.

July 2004

...I want to thank you one last time for being such a devoted resource for all of us who treasure the garden. We wouldn't be where we are without you! I am very glad I don't have the job of judging. I've looked at alot of the other contestants pages... they are beautiful, good thing it is left to the public. Well, it is all so fun...

One last picture of the little bunnies, and to let you all know, they hopped away under the fence one day, and I see them nibbling at grass on the other side of the fence from time to time. I swear I see them wink at me, and chuckle at the dog, who gives her barking greeting to them. :)

Thanks again.

Bye for now!

P.S. A word from Top Tropicals:

Kendra was the very first participant in our Contest who sent us photos of her beautiful garden. But very soon, unfortunatelly, her garden was destoyed by Hurricane Francis:
"...We really got nailed by Frances, and most of my beautiful garden is gone. Some things are gone entirely... right up and out of the ground! Other things just stripped of the leaves, and roots bent up. We just got power back yesterday... Ugh. It will be hard to look at the pictures now that it is mostly destroyed! I want to especially thank you for doing the pages for all of us gardeners. I wouldn't have even taken as many pictures of my garden if it weren't for you guys, and now, it is mostly all I have left..."
We are very sorry! We would like to support all Florida gardeners who's plants were damaged by the hurricanes this year with our special discount program.
Kendra, hold on! We are with you. You'll make it beautiful again, it will be even much better! We wish you and all other floridians to recover their gardens soon and will be happy to help with anything we can.
Tatiana & Mike.