Driving east into Lake Lindley Village, a home accented by brightly painted murals catches the eye. MeJesTique Forest Gardens was named by combining the initials of owner Janice Spencer and her boyfriend and fellow gardener Mark Schweder. This gardening duo developed every inch of the property into gardens with no lawn, including food for pollinators and humans.
MeJesTique Forest is the DeLand Garden Club’s May Garden of the Month.
“There are always at least 20 different flowers blooming for the pollinators. When I started in 2004, this was turf and sand. Mark and I have enjoyed creating and expanding our green paradise,” Spencer said.
In the southwest front corner, a winding stone path flanked by raised beds made from stacked concrete retention blocks beckons.
“Here we have established regenerative agriculture or lasagna gardening through no-till layering of organic compost made from horse manure,” explained Spencer, as she pointed out many of the edible plants. “Everything is organic. We use no herbicides, pesticides or fungicides.”
Janice enjoys allowing the edible plants to bolt into their flowering stage to provide nectar for the pollinators. Nectar plants like pentas, allamanda, shrimp plants, firespikes, variegated vitex powder puff and an angel’s trumpet show off their blooms.
As we walked, Spencer offered a pinch of this and a leaf of that to taste, a virtual movable vegetative feast from an abundance of edible plants.
Colorful murals painted by artist Shannon Holt continue from the front exterior walls of the home onto the tall wooden privacy fencing that surrounds the three back gardens. Here an array of multicolored orchids and other plants adds bursts of color in and around the trees providing an inviting shaded oasis.
The eastern sunny side reveals a hydroponic garden engineered by Schweder that utilizes an irrigation system constructed with connected rain barrels and recycled materials. Like a living grocery shelf, the layered hydroponic pipes reveal rows of greens waiting to be harvested.
Master Gardener Janice Spencer’s garden has received several certifications, including a Monarch City DeLand Sanctuary certified by the DeLand Garden Club, a Wildlife Habitat awarded by National Wildlife Federation, and The Humane Backyard from the Humane Society.
MeJesTique Forest Gardens is in a residential neighborhood at 821 Village Lake Drive North in DeLand, and offers an organic delight to the senses.
— Floyd is the new chair of the Garden of the Month Committee of the DeLand Garden Club.