Last week, I wrote about Maryhelen Zopfi’s garden for the Tampa Bay Times. The North Tampa gardener recently won the 2012 Water-Wise Award for Hillsborough County — a testament to her creative efforts at conservation.
But her creativity and careful marshaling of resources transcend plant zen. Maryhelen “shops” curbside discards for shelves and other helpful garden hardscape. She turns her unused whatnots (including an in-ground swimming pool!) into yard art, and she hasn’t met a plant she can’t propagate — I think.
The Times was able to run just three photos with my column, so I promised to share more here. Seeing is inspiration!
Here’s a great idea for attractive hanging baskets with super drainage: enameled metal colanders. Maryhelen finds hers at thrift stores.
All that Noritake china Maryhelen just had to have when she and Simon married 40 years ago has been gathering dust. So, when they replaced their aging gazebo a few months ago, she borrowed from her collection to create a candelabra.
(Note: The saucers are turned upside-down so the decoration is visible to those seated below. Also, for the record, the old gazebo became a trellis and shelves.)
Maryhelen was surprised — and pleased — when a cardinal took up residence in one of the teacups.
In September, her husband spotted eggs. And then … baby cardinals!
The baby birds have since flown off to their new lives, so now Maryhelen and Simon are empty-nesters — for the second time. Their yard, like mine, was all about the kids for years — turf, swingsets and (for Maryhelen and Simon) a swimming pool.
What can you do with a pool when you’re no longer hosting screaming kids at birthday parties?
Koi! They’re so much quieter. And a good pump and filtration system keeps this pond crystal clear. (Thank you, Simon!)
I absolutely love Maryhelen’s tool storage idea. It’s handy, waterproof, and keeps her pruners, trowels and other necessities just where she needs them. In the front yard, they’re in a traditional mailbox on a post in the center of the garden.
In the backyard, they’re kept in a convenient, wall-hung letter box.
Of course, hard-core recyclers don’t stick with just the man-made stuff. Maryhelen’s garden is full of plants from others’ gardens. Those of us who love pass-alongs appreciate not only the frugality of plant-sharing, but the memories they bring with them. When you get a cutting or seed from a friend or loved one, you always think of them when you see it.
These beautiful pinecone gingers are from Maryhelen’s dad’s garden.
Her 4-o’clocks (“I call them 6 o’clocks!” Maryhelen says) came from a friend. These are shrubs that like filtered light and open their blooms at 4 o’ clock — or 6 o’clock!
Those of us who love low-maintenance plants are big fans of canna lilies. They do have their downsides. Fading blooms will dangle forever, looking brown and bedraggled, until you snip them. And some, like India Shot, will take over if you don’t lay down the law.
Maryhelen reins in her canna in a beautifully artistic — and recycled — way.
Yes, that’s a claw-foot bathtub!
Finally, just to establish Maryhelen’s credentials — and perhaps entice you to shoot for your own Water-Wise Award — here’s Maryhelen with her custom-made steppingstone.