PHOTO BY CHERYL FLOYD GARDEN STEWARDS — Jeff Shepherd, left, Erin Miceli, center, and Barb Shepherd lovingly tend the garden in Artisan Alley, behind The Beacon office in Downtown DeLand. They are awarded Garden of the Month for January 2022 by the Garden Club of DeLand.

The Artisan Alley garden is a welcoming part of the vibrant Downtown scene, with the alley’s weekly farmers market and the biweekly Jazz on the Alley. Previously asphalt and an abandoned retail nursery, the garden has been transformed into a lovely green space.

Barb and Jeff Shepherd, with the help of horticulture expert Erin Miceli, have become the stewards of the garden, which has been named Garden of the Month for January 2022 by the Garden Club of DeLand.

Generous and ongoing community support from Artisan Alley shop owners, employees and vendors from the farmers market has contributed to the plant collection throughout the years. Shop owners have also added their own plantings to enhance the setting.

In December 2018, Miceli was hired as the gardener/horticulture consultant.

“This project attracted me by providing an opportunity to beautify an existing green space in Downtown DeLand,” Miceli said. “Urban horticulture is one of my passions. The tenacity of a flower growing persistently through a crack in the pavement is a thing of beauty. Over the past three years, we have been adding permaculture elements, as well as planting to attract pollinators. In 2019, we received certification as a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary from the Garden Club of DeLand.”

“We began our interest in gardening as a social awareness of our impact on the Earth. After reading the No-Work Garden Book by Ruth Stout, we started composting, and that’s when I first got my hands dirty with gardening and growing edibles in the garden,” Jeff Shepherd shared.

Miceli continued, “We try to demonstrate how edibles can be included in a small space with fig, pineapples, tomatoes, blueberries, papayas and hot peppers grown in the ground or in containers. Herbs vary by the season, including sage, chives, oregano, parsley, mint, tarragon, basil and fennel. We are situated in a bit of a microclimate, due to the geography of the garden. This allows us to experiment with zone-pushing a few things that are typically grown farther south.”

“We have had broccoli, eggplant, and other edibles bought from the farmers market,” Barb Shepherd said. “We love supporting the market and demonstrating to our attendees what can be grown in a small space. We have thought about labeling our plants to help answer the many questions we receive. That may be a future project.”

“Gardens are always a work in progress. Come for a visit and see the garden evolution happening at Artisan Alley,” said Miceli.

— Floyd is a member of the Garden Club of DeLand, an affiliate of National Garden Clubs Inc.



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