Deck Garden – Daniel’s Style 

A Caribbean Garden in Coral Gables

Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) is credited with the quote: “Bloom where you are planted.” At the home of Sidney and William “Bill” Daniel the saying is augmented to: “Bloom where you are planted – by Bill.” While Bill may indeed do all the planting at the couple’s home on quiet Rodrigo Avenue, only visitors would know that just behind their house lies a kaleidoscopic garden perched on the back deck. 

The deck itself is made of Dade County treated Florida pine wood for its strength and durability in our semi-tropical climate.
“I had always wanted to be able to step out my back door and not have to go down steps,” says Sidney, a member of the Coral Gables Garden Club. “I wanted to open the doors outside like another extension of the house. I asked around for a carpenter and found an old gentleman named Mr. Castillo. He built it and I just fell in love with it.” That was more than two decades ago, and the 500-square- foot deck remains in impeccable condition. 

Deck Garden - Daniel’s Style 
William “bill” and Sidney Daniel open the doors to their colorful Caribbean inspired garden.

Wanting a Caribbean feel, the Daniels selected a bright teal paint for the wood. From there they started to add more color. “I started ordering beautiful planters from Morocco and Spain, and then of course a lot locally. We would try to get the plants mixed together, and this was to us like bringing nature into our home. We could sit right here on our sofa and look at this wonderful picture.” Their double, glass backdoors frame the floral mélange of greens, reds, oranges, pinks, burgundies, yellows, and purples; a shaded area, it accommodates a variety of annuals and perennials including crotons, caladium, cordyline, coleus, hostas, heuchera, ferns, blue ibis, impatiens, and more. 

The Daniels estimate they have about 75 potted plants on their deck. “I place pots on stands so they aren’t directly on the deck, staining and rotting the wood,” says Bill. “This also allows for improved drainage since pots require holes at the bottom. Otherwise the roots will rot.” The shaded plants they chose tend to be fleshier, requiring watering once a day during the hot season and less when it rains or is cooler. Another tip from Bill: Don’t overfertilize. “That’s the biggest danger, particularly for plants with sensitive root systems,” he says. “And it damages our Florida waterways.” On this note Sidney adds, “We also do not use mulch because it is bad for the environment. It attracts all types of bugs and some say even termites.” 

Deck Garden
Deck Garden
The Daniels used around 75 potted plants on their 500 sq.Ft deck which is easier to manage than a traditional garden.

As for the wind chimes that add a pretty tinkle of sound, Sidney bought those at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s gift shop. She says they make it feel like one is off on a retreat. “It’s a lifestyle,” says Bill, “I go out at dawn. I look up at the sky. The change from night to day is one of the most relaxing times in my life.” Tinker, the couple’s seven-year-old Chihuahua/Shih Tzu mix, enjoys watching the cardinals and blue jays in their bird bath, along with the butter- flies and squirrels. “People say to us all the time, ‘Why don’t you just live out there?’ says Sidney. “Well, I hate to admit it, but to mosquitos I am the most popular woman in all of Coral Gables.” She is also popular with neighbors – or at least not unpopular – because the leaf blower she uses to keep the deck clear is battery operated. “It’s quiet and light weight because I couldn’t hold the heavy ones,” she laughs. 

“Bill and I can both sincerely say this is the best thing we ever added to our house. It’s a heck of a lot easier than getting out in the yard, down in the dirt, and trying to keep a beautiful garden – and keep it clean. I’d done that for years and it’s much easier to have it on a deck. It has been a joy.” When asked if gardening helps their relationship grow (pun intended) Sidney does not hesitate blushing, “It is a hobby we both have a great passion for. We get excited when we find something new. It’s the first hobby we’ve both shared.”