Back from Florida

We are back at home from our annual trip to the Florida coast. We spent an entire week in Santa Rosa Beach. This year Michael's aunt, cousin and our friend Joann went with us. We were able to rent a larger house and we loved it. I'm always looking for houses with lush landscaping and this time we hit the jackpot. The owners are avid gardeners and have created a spectacular cliffside garden filled with decks, pergolas, pathways and shrubs. The monarch butterflies were everywhere and we also saw many dragonflies, lizards and birds. 

We arrived on Saturday with the dire predictions of a cold front coming through. This was distressing and the weather forecast changed every time you checked it. The front did come through on Monday and it was a bit chilly through Tuesday. We used those days for shopping. It warmed back up on Wednesday and the weather was fantastic the remainder of the week. So, we only had 2 un-beach-like days and with Sandy and all up the East Coast, I'm not complaining.

We also celebrated 28 years together! I still can't wrap my mind around that.

The view from the beach. The fenced in area was for our own private use. I did spend one morning in this area but for the most part, we used the decks for sunning.
Views from the decks

The plantings around the house consisted of oleander, eleagnus, sweet olive, Mexican petunias, Indian hawthorne, pittosporum, palms and privet. The house owners said that they had learned beach gardening by trial and error and over the years, experimented with plants until they found the ones that did best for them. They have been through 2 hurricanes which caused major damage, washing away the lower part of the cliff, and had to rebuild. The opposite side of the house, which faced the street, had a magnificent magnolia and plantings of camellias, boxwoods and other shrubs. I didn't get photos of the front except for some group shots of us.

We had a celebrity neighbor (if you want to call him that). Mike Huckabee's house was 2 doors down. You can see it on the left. Someone said he was on the beach one morning but I didn't see him. The huge monstrosity on the right was built by friends of Huckabee, who starting some Baptist organization. So, if you contribute to such, here is what your money goes for! These houses dwarfed all the others on the road and seemed out of place.

We had a great week, full of sun, sunsets, shopping and great food. I got my tan back and I was sad to leave. Until next year!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Happy 28th! What a gorgeous place to celebrate your love for each other. We have a marriage equality act on our ballot in Maine. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

  2. Great Pictures, Phillip! I can't believe we were there the same time. And at Eden too! LOL I was at Laguna.

  3. Congrats on 28 years together! What a milestone!

    That house is ah-mazing!! Those decks and the view! I wish a house like that would change my husband's mind about beach vacations... he is blonde and fair-skinned so beaches are not his thing.

    I had to chuckle at your comment about donations to the religious organization going to a large beach house. People definitely need to be careful about who they give money to. Even famous people can be dishonest!

  4. wow 28 years.. amazing! Congratulations. I can only hope someday soon you would be able to be married if you so choose. Also LOVE the pictures of this beach garden!!

  5. What beautiful scenery. I bet you feel like a million dollars now. I am glad you had a good time. Congrats on the 28 years. You and Michael should be proud. Not many people stay together that long.

  6. Congratulations on 28th!

    Your rental looks fabulous. Great views and gardens.

  7. Boy you did hit the jackpot. I saw my first Monarch Saturday.Mary

  8. Thanks for such beautiful pictures. The view off the deck is amazing and I'm sure ya'll went home relaxed and refreshed. Congrats on the big 28. Have a great week! Carol

  9. Happy anniversary to the two of you. This looks like a fabulous place, you are fortunate. I agree with you about that monstrosity of a house. It's a shame people do not consider the surrounding homes and landscape when they build.

  10. Wow Phillip, you really did find a fantastic vacation spot. It made me sign to see these photos, because my own beach vacation was over in September, and long to be there again. Beautiful, beautiful spot.


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