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  • Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens

    While visiting my mom in New Smyrna Beach, we decided to take the girls to the playground nearby.  We waited for a few minutes to let the afternoon sprinkling rain pass, but it wasn't happening.  So, we started driving north on US-1.  If you are ever looking for a park while driving, look for brown signs.  Just after a few minutes, we saw a sign to the Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens.  They are located off US-1 and Herbert Street in Port Orange.  My mom had not been to it, so we thought to give it a shot.  Little did we know, we were in for a treat!

    Dunlawton Sugar Mill Plantation

    botanical garden

    Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens are open 8 am to sunset every day.  Guided tours are available on Wednesday by appointment only.  The grounds are very interesting to both young and old.  My girls had a great time searching for dinosaurs.  Yep, you read it right.

     sugar mill gardens sugar mill gardens sugar mill gardens

    Originally, the grounds belong the Dunlawton family which owned the sugar mill back in 1832.  All that remains is the ruins, but they are still pretty interesting.  I was amazed at the size of the equipment used.

    Sugar Mill Gardens

    After several attacks by Seminole indians, the sugar mill was never able to fully recover.  The Dunlawtons attempted to create a tourist attraction out of their sugar mill to no avail.  In the 1950's the land was leased to create Bongoland, equipped with a small train, an indian village replica and large concrete dinosaurs.  While the train and the indian village replica are both gone, the concrete dinosaurs were still there.

    Sugar Mill Gardens

    The grounds were beautifully kept.  There's a gazebo and a seating area for a wedding as well as a garden library.  There's also a human sundial and various trails to go exploring.

    Sugar Mill Gardens


    sugar mill gardens

    There is no entry fee, but they do have a donations box available.  This park is truly a gem in the city.  We were so glad to have founded, it was difficult to get my girls to leave.  To read more reviews, check out tripadvisor.

    Do you like visiting botanical gardens? Which is your favorite?

    Do you ever drive around looking for hidden gems?

  • Flower Garden in Florida

    It's the perfect time of the year to visit our greenhouse! This is the month when we get the prettiest flowers for your garden.  Walking into the greenhouse and seeing all of the beautiful hues of pink, lavender, red, orange, yellow and blue put a smile on my face everyday.  In order to have a successful flower garden, you must know your garden's sun pattern.  Does the flower garden area get the morning sun or the afternoon shade?  Let's start with the sun-loving plants for your flower garden.

    Sun Loving Flower Garden

    If you love yellow flowers, then you can't go wrong with these Bush Daisies in your flower garden.  Make sure to give them enough space when planting because they'll definitively spread into a beautiful bush.  Very easy to take care off, they just need to be regularly watered when first planting.  Once they are established, they'll be fine with weekly waterings.  They do love sun, so make sure they get plenty of it.

    Flower Garden Bush Daisies

    Another showy flower is the "Cleome" or Spider Flower.  Cleome is available in white, pink and beautiful fuscia bringing amazing color to your flower garden.  This flowering plant is an annual and it will bloom from now until fall.  They are native to South America, which makes them great drought tolerant plants for Florida weather.

    Flower Garden Cleome or Spider Flower


    Once you decide where to put your flower garden, make sure to figure out how much sun that area gets daily.  The amount of sun your garden gets will define what type of flowers will survive.  Make sure to water your newly planted flowers daily until they are fully established.  Depending on flower type and the soil conditions of your garden, after two to three weeks, you may need to change your watering schedule.  Here are some resources for gardening in Florida:


    Bed Preparation is the key to successful flowers and vegetables


    Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Handbook

  • How does your garden grow?

    About a month ago, I finally had some time to clear the weeds out of our vegetable growing box and decided to plant some seeds for the winter growing season.  This is something I started to do with the girls last year just for fun.  I think its important for kids to know where their food comes from.  After looking through our seed packets, my assistant picked broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, lettuce, eggplant and swiss chards.

    After choosing the packets, it was time to get to work.  My assistant insisted she had to be properly dressed in order to begin her garden. :)  Who am I to argue with her?

    Carefully selecting the seeds.

    A gentle pat on the ground to cover the seeds.  Around the gardening box we went.  Last year we had great success with the cauliflower and broccoli plants we bought from Lowes.  So, I'm really curious to see how we do with them because this time we are starting from seed.  So far, with very minimal care I must add, the chards, lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli seem to be going at full speed.

    This picture was taken about 20 days after planting.  Previously we've had problems with snails and slugs.  After a quick google search, I learned that ground coffee beans have been used to combat slugs and snails.  So, off to Starbucks I went!  It seems to be working so far.  I've also learned that ground coffee beans are great as mulch.  I'd say its probably time for me to pick some more up!

    Here are some other useful links on growing vegetables at home:




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