There’s no second chance to make a first impression.
Lynette Emmons and Laura Forecki knew that, but it seemed their neighborhood entrance at the northern tip of Longboat Key hadn’t received the message. Just north of the “Welcome to the Town of Longboat Key” sign, at the turn onto Firehouse Court and visible from Gulf of Mexico Drive, was an empty island of dirt — not such a good impression for those traveling southbound onto the island. Emmons looked at their own flourishing yard and that of their neighbor and got an idea.
"I’m retired, so for me it was just like this eyesore, so I went with the intention that I was just going to rake it," Emmons said.
The trees were in the island already. So Emmons and neighbor Dave Sparks, with some help from Forecki, decided to spruce things up. That was about a year ago. And they're still working on the patch these days.
“I feel like I’m giving back a little bit," Emmons said. "It makes me feel good about living in a beautiful place."
It now flourishes with a variety of bromeliads, a jatropha tree with red flowers, aloe and other bright natives. Most of the plants came from Emmons' yard and that of Sparks, but they bought some extra liriope to trim the edges. Sparks, who had landscaped his own yard, was vital to the effort, bringing tools and digging up more plants from his own yard to fill in the space. The neighbors’ houses on Firehouse Court are both bursting with trees and plants, and Emmons figured she and Forecki had enough experience to get the job done.
"David and I are always joking (that) we gotta go work on the island," Emmons said. "We love doing it, don’t get me wrong, we’re both big gardeners. It’s interesting. It’s a way to get away from my own yard."