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Garden Tours Spark Inspiration, Relaxation, and Conversation

Shauna has a deep appreciation for Mother Nature's landscape and endeavors to follow Nature's lead when creating beauty in her yard.

Take a garden tour

Take a garden tour

Do you ever find yourself in a rut? Same s*#t different day?

Of course you do. We all do from time to time.

I found myself feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and yearning for human interaction not too long ago. If you work from home, isolated in your office day after day while the rest of the world spins around you, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

It was another day like any other. I was planted in front of my computer reading blog posts, going through the never-ending barrage of how-to-make-six-figures-by-sitting-on-your-ass-all-day-every-day articles that hit my inbox. Then it happened! An email from Master Gardeners of Seminole County informed me of an upcoming garden tour.

And then there was light.

As much as I love gardening, nature, and all things beautiful, I’d never been on a garden tour. I’m kind of ashamed to admit that, since my mother is a Master Gardener whose property is featured annually on garden tours in her area.

Anyway, I promised myself I’d get my tired butt out of the house and see what other people in the world had been doing to create beauty and enhance the environment. Even if it meant I had to go by myself. I’m a big girl. I can do this, right?


Let me share with you what I discovered that day as I ventured out on my own, far away from the confines of my 100-square-foot home office.

Small Spaces Spark Inspiration

My first stop was the Halliday property in Lake Mary. Touted as a tropical paradise and demonstration of what a gardener can do with a small space, I was intrigued. Upon arrival I was offered a bottle of water and provided with a list of plants that live in the host’s backyard paradise.

Aside from the stone pavers outlining the pathway, there wasn’t a square inch of property that wasn’t home to beautiful drought-tolerant foliage. There was even a small koi pond nestled in this suburban jungle.

Rather than ramble on, I’ll give you a virtual tour. If you have a small backyard, I hope these photos inspire you to don your garden gloves and create your own oasis.

Innovative Use of Rainwater

The Peak property was quite a bit of a drive but well worth it. Mr. Peak is a retired engineer who has devised a way to use rainwater to nourish all of his foliage, including the grassy areas. What really intrigued me was how he uses rainwater to fill his pool and hot tub.

I wish I’d gotten pictures of the rain barrel/pipe system he designed to accomplish this. I was so awed that, frankly, I plumb forgot to snap shots of the distribution system. He had an area cordoned off in the backyard that houses three large rain barrels. Not only is nature’s nectar directed into the barrels, but he’s devised a system where pressure forces the water back up into drainage systems he’s attached to the eaves and lower portions of his house. Open-ended pipes running along the eaves dump onto shrubbery and other plants located around the perimeter. The pipes on the lower portion of the structure have small holes bored into them, allowing water to flow out into the grassy areas.

Genius, huh?

Wait ‘til you see how he fills his pool! I did happen to snap a shot of that rig. It wasn’t flowing at the time, but you can see how it works and how crystal clear his pool is.

Take a look.

Natural Habitat Provides a Relaxing Setting

My third stop on the tour took me to the Borrieci property, which is a veritable haven for native Florida foliage. Although a detailed plant list was provided for this property as well, the homeowners took the time to place labels by each variety. A long straw driveway leads us to their acreage where native specimens greet you along the way. This yard was a pleasure to meander through; it’s apparent that nature had much to do with the placement of the many varieties found here. No landscape architect choreographed this garden!

Read More From Dengarden

Conversation Leads to Tips – and Clips

I think the Cole property was my favorite stop. Located just a mile or so from my house, it was the perfect ending to my self-guided garden tour. Not only was it a tad hot by the time I arrived (about 1:00 p.m.), but I left with a treasure I was excited to introduce to my hugelkultur bed when I got home. But more on that later.

What was so exciting about this property is each visitor was encouraged to take a clipping or seeds from anything in the garden, which spans an acre and a half. As I walked up to the sign-in desk I was offered black lima bean seed pods. Too cool! I’d never heard of them, let alone seen—or eaten—black limas.

There are veggie gardens, native gardens, butterfly gardens, beautiful vines, and much more to see on the Cole property. They also propagate milk weed to encourage Monarch butterflies. Many screened enclosures are located in a designated area of the backyard devoted to Monarchs and their favorite food source. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the enclosures. To be honest, I didn’t know what they were until I asked as I was leaving.

I fell in love with the property and the owners. How many gardeners offer to share their plants with strangers? They had buckets, bags, clippers, and shovels on hand just for that purpose. I really wish I’d taken advantage of their offer (other than the limas), but I thought it better to take a good survey of my own property, lighting, etc. before doing so. There’s always next year, right?

Anyway, walk with me. There’s a lot to see here.

This Garden Tour Inspired Me

I was stoked when I got home. I’d started a hugelkultur bed in late spring of 2014. In early 2015 I added some soil mixed with my homemade compost but did nothing else, other than trim around it. I wanted to see if anything would actually grow there, so I broke open a pod of black lima beans, poked them about an inch into the soil and let nature do her thing.

The garden tour was held in June—just before the official beginning of Florida’s rainy season, so the timing was perfect. Two of the three seeds I planted are now pretty little lima bean plants. I’m pretty excited. My hugelkultur bed isn’t very big, but I’m inspired to see what other edibles my experiment will sustain.


I chose to visit four of the eight homes featured on this particular garden tour. I’m glad I didn’t go the full circuit. Although it was early June, by midday the heat was just too intense to go any farther. Maybe next time the weather will be a little more kind.

The next time you find yourself in a rut, take a walk and see what nature has to offer. Be inspired by what gardeners are doing to enhance our environment. Strike up a conversation. Take the knowledge you gain home with you. Create your own backyard oasis. Then relax, breathe in the air, listen to the breeze, and the songs wildlife rewards you with. Treat your eyes and mind to the beauty that’s all around you.

If ever a garden tour is scheduled in your area, do yourself a favor and attend. It’s a wonderful way to spend the day. I’m glad I did!

How About You?

© 2020 Shauna L Bowling


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on June 22, 2020:

Yes, it is, bhattuc. It's also very soothing.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you're doing well.

bhattuc on June 22, 2020:

I like walks in a park or garden or even green grounds. It is amazing.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 12, 2020:

Patricia, I had no idea you once lived in Seminole County! What town and how long ago?

I'm sure there are garden tours in your area. Check with your local extension center.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope today looks a little brighter for you!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 12, 2020:

Hi...I lived in Seminole county but did not take this tour. I am not so far away that a trip over seems like a good idea. Thank you for sharing. Angels are headed your way ps

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 01, 2020:

Mark, I've never been to either one of the gardens you mention. Then again, I haven't lived in Philly since the summer before ninth grade. I'll have to Google them. Longwood is the name of the town I currently live in.

I do agree. Gardens are indeed like entering paradise. They're so calming, full of sounds and scents. Touring a garden does the heart good!

Mark Tulin from Palm Springs, California on May 01, 2020:

I’ve always had fond memories of gardens. Longwood outside of Philly and the Brooklyn Gardens. It’s like visiting paradise.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 21, 2020:

Thanks for stopping by, Caprice!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 21, 2020:

Dora, I'm glad this article has inspired you. I'm sure your mother would be pleased to know she made such an impact on your gardening style.

Enjoy the sun and fresh air!

Caprice A. Parisi on April 20, 2020:

The Cole property trellis is beautiful !! Great read - thank i you shauna!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 20, 2020:

I would have loved this tour. Ever since my mother passed, I've been trying to bring the yard up to the way she kept it. Your article inspired me.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 20, 2020:

Mar, I'm tickled that this post brought to mind such a beautiful song. You've just touched my heart.

Enjoy your day my friend and stay safe!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on April 19, 2020:

Dear Sha,

This is a post I will return to - such beautiful, peaceful and hope-filled photographs.

I also love the idea of the gardeners sharing their treasures.

I'm humming Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World".

Love you and hugs, mar

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 19, 2020:

Sis, I'm so pleased that this article inspired you, even if it means hubby will be put to work. Your gardens are so pretty, I can't imagine what you'll do to boost the appeal. I do hope you share what you come up with.

Thanks for joining me. It's always a pleasure to share your company.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 19, 2020:

Shauna, just when I thought I was done with my garden, you come along and plant (pun intended) all of these new ideas in my noggin'. Bill isn't going to be too pleased with you. Oh well, I love garden tours and I'm so glad that you invited me to tag along.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 19, 2020:

Ann, the sea air does wonders for both of you. I wish I had the ocean close by.

The opening shot that you mention is actually a gate at my mom's house. I love the words. They epitomize her spirit.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 19, 2020:

I meant to say how much I like the words on that garden gate; wonderful!

Yes, we are self-isolating as my partner is 'old' (though you wouldn't think so!) and taking medication. We just go for a short walk down to the sea and back, about three times a week, carefully avoiding any others by the prescribed distance! It's lovely looking at the world, people's houses and gardens and the lovely beach and sea estuary that is so close to our home. I have food delivered so no problems there. How lucky we are!


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 19, 2020:

Ann, it sounds like it's time to get out and visit some gardens. I'm not sure if social distancing is getting in the way, but one way or another, we can still enjoy nature, even if it's just taking a walk around your neighborhood.

My mom's gardens are so peaceful. There's something different to see everywhere you look. I love spending time there.

Thanks for spending a bit of your Sunday with me, Ann.

Be safe, healthy, and happy!

Ann Carr from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Wow, Shauna! That garden of your Mum's is amazing and so pretty! It's ages since I visited a garden. We tend to do it if we're visiting one of the National Trust properties and they are usually big estates with huge landscaped gardens. Some towns have 'open gardens' for a week of so in the Summer so that people can have a look at what others in their areas have done; some of those are really inspiring.

You've packed a lot into this so I'll have to read it again and grab some ideas, even though I've precious little room left in my garden now!

Keep safe and well!


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 19, 2020:

Happy gardening, Bill! What are you planting?

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2020:

Very cool tour. I like the rainwater idea. We just finished preparing our garden, and planting happens today. We are pretty excited about it all and eager to watch it all grow.

Happy Sunday my friend! Be safe!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 19, 2020:

You're a trip, Paula!

Suzie from Carson City on April 18, 2020:

Adopt Kyler?? Why certainly!! But you know, he's a package deal with Lucien and Baby Mama too! How shall we handle this adoption? We may need a Family we can come to an agreement about custody, Holidays, Vacations, the School year. .6 months with me....6months with you. .,wait! You keep them. I'll be the visiting Mama. Don't pressure me. I'll be there when I'm there.. Yeah, that's better. I've always wanted to be a dead-beat parent. Ahhhh, I feel the power & the freedom already!!.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Flourish, I think most areas have garden tours. If you have an area garden extension center, sign up for their emails. They offer great advice for planting in your area and alert you to classes, tours, etc.

It's worth looking into!

I wish I had the camera I do now when I took this tour in 2015. If you compare those pics to the ones of my mom's gardens, you'll see a drastic difference in the quality/clarity. Oh well, it is what it is!

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you're doing well. Be safe!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 18, 2020:

These gardens are lovely. I sure wish mine looked more like them. I’m not aware that we have garden tours around here but I’ll be on the lookout for them now.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Paula, what do you think? Should we adopt Kyler?

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Paula, you never cease to put a smile on my face and laughter in my heart (and my home office where I'm sitting here laughing out loud)!

Kyler J Falk from California on April 18, 2020:

I think I am about 2,900 miles away, and you know the song "I'm Gonna Be" by The Proclaimers only goes up to 1000! I'm a romantic, but I'm no Forrest Gump!

Suzie from Carson City on April 18, 2020:

Well,Kyler.......where the heck are ya? I need your muscles to help me move these heavy cartons!!

Suzie from Carson City on April 18, 2020:

You......Your.....You're.....Yoooooz.......Ewwwwww.......Ewe....UUUUUUU.....Yoo-Hoo.....Ya'll.....Your'nz.....Love,Aunt Polly!!!!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Absolutely, Kyler. But I'm afraid my mom would go into tears once she heard Paula's voice. My mom was one of 10 kids. There's only two left, she and my Aunt Jo. Her favorite sister, Polly, was also Godmother to all three of us kids. When I talked to Paula on the phone, I would have thought I was talking to Aunt Polly if I didn't know better. Just one more reason I love her so much.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Paula, Paula, Paula, my friend whose voice sounds like my beloved Aunt Polly. Ha! It's my turn to correct your spelling/grammar! Check your "Kyler says...." sentence my Spelling General! Pay back's a what????

I have to agree, Mom's gardens are amazing. When you're actually in the environment, you can appreciate the tranquility. I wish I didn't live three hours away from her.

A manila envelope? You've sent me another unexpected gift? You and Mar always surprise me with "just because" gifts. I love both of you so much. And we all met here on HP! What a community this is!

I love you my demonstrative, outspoken, opinionated friend! You and I are two peas in a pod.

I'll certainly email you when my package comes. Or maybe I'll surprise you with a phone call. I have both your numbers.

In the meantime, plan a garden tour with your cousin when this social distancing crap recedes. You'll enjoy it immensely.



Kyler J Falk from California on April 18, 2020:

Paula, is the moving coming along? I miss seeing your name pop up on my articles!

Shauna of course she would be okay with it, and having both of you lovely ladies in tow as we toured some lovely gardens would be a dream come true!

Your mother is a true source of inspiration for anyone who knows her, it sounds like to me!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Kyler, you have grown to be so dear to my heart in a very short time. You put a smile on my face. You know you can always email me if you don't find something in the 163 or so articles I've posted.

My mom is awesome, Kyler. At almost 82, she's in better shape than I am because of the heavy-lifting she does in her garden. And because she has no ailments and says "Be Gone" to any negativity that tries to creep into her world. She's been an amazing role model. I get my strength and creativity from her.

Date? Are you sure your lady is okay with that? Actually, I'd like to spend time with all three of you. You're a force to reckon with but sweet to the core.

Suzie from Carson City on April 18, 2020:

Sha.......Kyler says your "Fabulous," but I already knew that. OMG! Your mother's gardens! I am soooo impressed. How gorgeous, although I do think Kyler's description as "kick-ass" seems much more down to "EARTH!!" pun pun!

My cousin goes on garden tours every year & tells me I should go! I probably will this year!

Thanks Nature-Woman! me when you get your Manila envelope from me! Love ya, Paula

Kyler J Falk from California on April 18, 2020:

As it concerns being able to see your article despite it not passing the QAP as of yet, so long as you follow someone you are able to see anything they post via the feed, or even if they allow unfeatured articles to be shown through their main profile.

I must also admit I am always looking for your name in the feed, as I'm always dying to know more about the fabulous Shauna! Today I learned your mother has a kick ass garden I'd love to sun bathe in or even do a photo shoot, and that if I ever get the opportunity to take you out on a date we are going to stroll through some of the most beautiful gardens we can find!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Nell, with Cliveden Manor only being a few miles from you, surely you can plan a visit when all this is over. I take it Cliveden Manor is open to the public? When you go, I hope you take lots of pictures and post an article about your experience. I'd love to see it!

I've actually been back since the beginning of this year, Nell. I've posted more in the last few months than I did in the last few years. I was in a creative slump and vowed to change that in 2020.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and stay sane!

Nell Rose from England on April 18, 2020:

I love all of them Shauna, especially now that we can't venture out very far. We have Cliveden Manor just a few miles from us, where Meghan and Harry stayed before they got married. Its ten minutes in a car, and I was going last year. I wish I had now! Keep safe, and good to see you back here.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 18, 2020:

Kyler, I'm thrilled that you're the first to comment. How did you even know I'd posted? This article hasn't yet gone thru HP QA yet.

Oh, well. It doesn't matter. Yes, I thought the Peak property might appeal to you. I wish I'd taken photos of his capture/drainage system. It really was quite impressive.

My favorite gardens will always be my mom's. She's incredible. She has an acre lot on a Mangrove preserve in South Florida. She does all the landscaping herself, including design. There's not a blade of grass on her property. Everywhere you turn, there's something interesting to see. She'll be 82 in June and is still going strong. She begins every day in her garden picking up fallen palm fronds, blowing off leaves, trimming, and transplanting or planting where she sees the need. She's amazing!

There's such a sense of peace and serenity in her gardens. When I visit, I spend all my time outside reading, or walking with Mom and taking pics. It really is paradise.

I hope one day you have the money and property to create your own haven. It really does make a house a home.

Kyler J Falk from California on April 18, 2020:

My favorite property from this tour had to be the Peak property. I bet it would be really fun to hang out there and have him teach you how to engineer your own little helpful contraptions. I've always wanted my own forest with water features and all sorts of other goodies, but don't have the money nor property to do it, yet!

It was fun taking this little online tour, and a pleasant read too!

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