Of suds and buds: In this glorious little garden things are a hopping and a popping (PHOTOS)

Laura Hall, Gardens with Annie
Tom carefully tends his flowers at home and his beer at work.

Don’t know when I have ever met such an exuberant and outgoing couple.

Their moderate sized house is tucked away in a small, secluded, cul-de-sac in Niceville. The front of the house is well kept, nicely manicured and inviting; but, once you enter the house and back yard, things really start popping. The interior of their house is brimming over with unique and innovative ideas. I could hardly tear myself away from the interior to get into their charming and beautifully put together landscape in the back. Making the most of every available inch, with careful planning, it comes out looking like a tiny Chelsea Garden.

Both Tom Anderson and Deanna Matthews seem to share equally in the design, upkeep and delight in what they have created. Deanna comes from Miami while Tom, a former military kid, comes here from Dallas. They met while both were working for Atlantic Southeast Airlines as Ticket Agents. Tom vacationed in this area while working for the Airlines, liked it so much, he put in for a transfer to live here full time.

Deanna has a calm but radiant personality and Tom has an intoxicating personality that’s befitting of his position as a McGuire’s brewmaster in Destin. Deanna stated that, “While there are only the two of us who live here, we love to entertain and our garden offers us the ability to have 25 people at a time in the garden just milling around enjoying themselves.”

They designed the entire backyard area with a built up area toward the back, a circular drainage area in the center and pavers defining the area containing their outdoor table with umbrella To the right was an inviting, shimmering hot tub and on the opposite side and around the corner, they had neatly hung their yellow and green kayaks along the wooden fence like a brightly colored sculpture. This is a couple that can’t find the time to be bored as they both love kayaking, windsurfing, biking and boating. The long line of bashed up and washed about buoys that hang on a draping line along their fence came from the Florida Keys collected when they were down on vacation in Islamorada.

I understand that fishing from their boat for several unproductive hours led them to begin collecting some interesting buoys that had washed up into the Mangroves. Deanna says with a grin, “We caught no fish all day but collected a boat full of interesting, old colorful buoys and ‘went the heck out’ to a great restaurant for fish.” Lady after my own heart.

Deanna’s favorite part of the garden is “the secret garden” which is the paved walkway behind the green and flowering landscaping and is hidden in a way that you do not discover until you walk more deeply into their garden. Once you find this hidden space, it pulls you along for an “Alice in Wonderland” walk. You are carried around the back and one side of the garden with shaded arbors overgrown with vines.

One hidden part of the fence is covered with artsy and amusing metal fish which Tom has cut out of discarded metal with his plasma cutter. Some of the fish are soft, washed out blue colors with rusted edges, some are muted red, and some are rusted white.

Listen carefully to this, I have not been drinking, for one of his creations, Tom took the inside of a dryer drum, drew fish designs around the circular drum, took his plasma cutter and cut out an entire school of fish which he flattened out on the fence. You should see it, it’s improbable but there it is! In another one of the hidden areas, there is a bench with old fashioned metal ceiling tiles above, a collection of ceramic mushrooms of various colors in the front, a bright blue lantern hanging from the tree and a collection of “jug head” pottery tiki torches made by, Steven Dark, a potter in Mobile.

Tom’s favorite part of the garden is the circular paved area with a circle of boxwood with a birdbath and iris filing the center. Tom meticulously laid the brick paver walk slightly downward to drain this area of water.

One of the most delightful aspects of Tom’s psyche is that he never saw a piece of discarded, thrown away, tossed about from the storm, beat up or torn up scrap of anything that he doesn’t see the potential of designing something else that comes out just fantastic!! Coming home one day he saw the tip of something green showing out of the top of a Dumpster, took a closer look, discovered a discarded, half dead hydrangea and boy you should see that stunning beauty today. It’s come a long way baby and someone somewhere would probably like to have it back.

The backyard is bright and enchanting and contains Thryallis, canna, pentas, marigold, caladiums, Orange Cassandra, Pink Gaura, bougainvillea, torenia, sedum, Knock Out roses and one deliciously fragrant ginger that makes you pause to inhale the sweet heady scent that floats through the air.. They are one of the few people I know that use an abundance of Hooty-wax to hold back the rising tiers of the garden. Creative and well done.

Well, I’ve staid too long and I’ve got to get hopping.

From green thumb to the master’s touch at McGuire’s

Tom Anderson may spend a lot of time in his garden in Niceville but even more time here in Destin, as brewmaster at McGuire’s Irish Pub.

“In the finer beer you will find the passion of the brewmaster being mixed along with wisely chosen ingredients. With experience of many years you find the blends that produce outstanding beer,” Tom reflects.

For the past 15 years Tom has been the brewmaster at McGuire’s and he has become familiar with the tastes and aromas of beer from all over the world.

“I am forever watching over the beer process; I worry about it the entire time. I have a lot of pride in what I do and we follow a very strict guideline of brewing standards.”

McGuire’s brews up about 35,000 gallons of beer a year followed by 10,000 gallons of root beer. The basic ingredients of beer are malt, hops and water with yeast as the single cell organism that ferments it all together. Most anyone can make beer but you give the basic ingredients to the master and it comes out lip-smacking fantastic!

This fall, McGuire’s will be brewing up a Spiced Brown Ale, and I see Tom’s eyes sparkle as he claps his hands to his chest proclaiming, “It’s magnificent with a taste of coriander seed, orange peel, roasted Saigon cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg.”

I’m already swooning when the piece de resistance has the cover thrown back and the lid opened for several, deep, long inhalations by this writer. This was so intoxicating; I wanted to do a swan dive right down into the middle.

After several weeks, this fermenting mixture will emerge as a smooth, glorious, intense and flavorful beer. This is your Brewer’s Reserve tap and comes with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 11 percent. You can ask for it by name, Chocolate Cherry Chipotle Imperial Stout. Here you experience the master’s touch, made from 84-pounds of sweet cherries, Hershey’s extra dark cocoa and 4 ounces of chipotle peppers.

If you want some inside information on when this is going to be available, I know the day, hour and minute. And I can tell you, when you should begin to line up you will all be behind me.

Ahhh.... this is going to be one great beer. Prost, Tom!  

Laura Hall is a longtime gardener and Destin resident. She explores area gardens with her cavalier spaniel Annie. If you would like to show off your garden, contact Laura at 837-8720.