SBF Display Garden Project

Our club was less than a year old when we approached SBF management with a request. We wanted to take over the plot around the Lake House flagpole and turn it into a garden that would blossom from spring to fall. We were aware of the great variety of perennials in our own members’ gardens, and knew that if we each contributed a few, we could make it really special. Several years earlier, that area had been planted with red, white and blue perennials, in a ceremony which included the raising of Saddlebrook’s special US flag that had flown over the USS Arizona. Over time, those doing the original planting were unable to maintain the garden; and in any case, the perennials didn’t bloom in  unison for the desired effect. Our idea was different: plant red, white, and blue annuals under the flagpole, not only maintaining the plot’s historical patriotic tradition, but enhancing it.


SBF agreed to initially prepare and amend the soil, provide some basic gardening equipment, and give us a few kinds of spring flowering bulbs, plus the red, white and blue annuals. We agreed to handle care of the garden: acquiring and planting the perennials and doing all the weeding, watering, etc. Over three dozen varieties of perennials were dug from our own gardens in the fall of 2005, and planted in the old oblong garden plot.


In the spring of 2006, in conjunction with the Lake House parking lot paving project, the flagpole garden plot was re-designed as a stone-rimmed circle. Our perennial plants were removed for the paving project, and then replaced by us when the paving was done.  Saddlebrook put in new soil and amendments, and we were on our way again.  By the end of summer, 2006, the garden had well over six dozen varieties of perennials, virtually all contributed by Saddlebrook residents.


The garden had an older fruit-bearing pear tree which pre-dated SBF’s establishment as a residential community. Over time, several problems had emerged regarding the tree: the fallen fruit was messy and attracted yellow jackets, and the tree itself was showing serious signs of age. We recommended that SBF Management replace it, even though the process would require immediate shifting of many plants, plus more the following year, to compensate for a new tree’s reduced shade canopy. Their response was proactive and timely.  We now have a Chanticleer Pear, an award-winning ornamental related to the “Bradford”, but more durable. A group headed by Bob Vetter did the plant shifting.


Although we favored having a mainly perennial garden, we did want a few more annuals. We also knew that our display of in-ground planted perennials didn’t necessarily relate well to the current abilities of residents who can no longer get down on the ground to garden.  So, when a weathered wooden garden cart was donated to us, we decided to fill it with pots of annuals. This lets us display many colorful flowering plants, and at the same time demonstrates one way to do accessible gardening. The cart’s winter home is in our shed, to prevent further unnecessary weathering, and to keep the garden’s ‘winter interest’ strictly horticultural. Now, a much anticipated mid-spring event, overseen by Jan Stone and Ann Shanks, is getting out the cart and filling it with the year’s selection of annuals. Winter interest includes an evergreen berry-bearing holly bush and grasses, plus a few plants left standing which are suited for wintering-over.


Our garden’s wide variety of flowers attracts all sorts of pollinators: bees, hummingbirds and several kinds of butterflies. There is something in bloom from the time the early spring daffodils and tulips emerge all the way to late fall.


Visit our Photo Gallery of the Display Garden to see how we have progressed.