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Memories of mother bloom here

By BETH N. GRAY
Published June 13, 2007


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ALONG THE SUNCOAST TRAIL - Just as a memorial garden should be, this spacious, colorful and artistic planting inspires introspection, relaxation and serenity.

Bikers, hikers and skaters stop in their tracks along the trail south of Brooksville off Anderson Snow Road, south of the Snow Sport Complex, to view an unusual landscape in a hay field. Drivers whizzing not far away on the Suncoast Parkway can't help but notice the bountiful haven of vari-colored greens and bright blooms that Gus Guadagnino has created.

It is a memorial to his mother, Josephine Guadagnino, as proclaimed on a bronze marker in the garden surrounding a quartet of majestic live oak trees in the field.

Guadagnino, 53, created the botanical project within a year after her death at age 70 in 1998. It has grown since. He calls himself a novice gardener, learning as he goes.

He obviously has a green thumb and an artistic acumen.

Close by the four oaks, pink, fuchsia, red and white blooms erupt from impatiens, dianthus, begonias, periwinkles and calendulas. Luxuriant aloes send forth spikes of shrimp-colored flower bursts like fireworks. White Easter lilies stand sentry. Miniature salmon-colored roses bloom and gardenias perfume the air.

A statue of an angel is a garden focus. Two shallow dishes of water are in place for birds and butterflies.

"I started inviting friends to view the garden and they started putting up wind chimes, " Guadagnino, owner of Joni Industries in the Airport Industrial Park, said.

Nearly a dozen wind chimes - metal, glass, pottery and brass - tinkle soothing notes from the oak branches.

Beyond the close-in plantings, a grass walking path circles the garden, and outside of that is an enclosure of low-growing boxwood. The whole garden is surrounded by a wooden timber border.

Guadagnino bought the 10-acre property as an investment some years ago, inspired by the promise of the Suncoast Parkway construction.

Walking the property one day, he poked into an oak clump deep in weeds and spied two palms. His mother was not a churchgoer, he said, but she asked him to bring her palm fronds every Sunday.

"When I saw the two palms, I thought it had to be a sign, " Guadagnino said.

The memorial garden includes low-growing fan palms and others of the species that may be pygmy date palms or arica palms. Guadagnino is not sure of the names.

He just knows what he likes and what his mother would appreciate.

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.net .

[Last modified June 12, 2007, 21:03:00]


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