Springtime in Boise!

 

My daughter says that seeing everything come to life is what makes it easier to survive the cold, snowy winter months.

No words are needed for this Salute to Spring, although I have to say that I’m envious of her soil. Enjoy and pretend this is the first time you’ve ever seen something like this in your life! Can you imagine how that would feel? A few pictures of her cats ended up being tucked in with the flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A hui hou!

Canada in Bloom

 

After a cold and snowy winter, these tulips are the sight Canadians anticipate. When so many are massed together like this, the vibrant color provides a stunning display.

In early summer, the streets of Toronto seem to burst into bloom. Each window has a hanging basket of flowers, even in the poorest sections.

 

Outdoor stalls have plenty of variety from which to choose.

 

By mid-summer, the sunflowers take over.

 

In Hawai`I, we take this kind of beauty for granted. After enduring the harsh winter, these become precious jewels to our Northern neighbors. Is it any wonder that Canadians take such pride in showing off their flowers?

A hui hou!

A Pink Birthday Party!

 

Every year on my birthday, I do something a little special on this blog in honor of myself. This year, I’m taking myself back to a “little girl in pink” with a trip to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu.

For the past twelve years, always over Labor Day weekend, I have gone to the Hawaii Writers Conference. Until three years ago, it was held on Maui and known internationally as the “Maui Writers Conference.” Then they began holding it on Oahu where there were hotels who would handle the volume of people who came, and the name changed to “Hawaii Writers Conference.”

This year, it was held at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, well-known for its pink décor. Everything is designed around the theme of “pink.” And no matter where you are, you can see the pink hotel! This shot was taken from my window at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel, a block away. It almost looks artificial and Disneyesque among the modern hotels of Waikiki.

 

No matter what view you have of the Royal Hawaiian, it is always a distinctive pink.

 

And when you look toward the beach, there is a sea of pink umbrellas, actually quite colorful against the blue of the ocean and the sky.

 

There are pink columns, with pink flowers in the floral arrangements standing before them. Even though most of these tropical flowers last quite a while, someone comes around to redo all the arrangements with fresh flowers periodically.

 

I loved walking down this pink corridor with its display of Phaleonopsis orchids.

 

Here is a close up of one of the Phaleonopsis orchids. Even though they were white, they appear pink against the strong pink of the columns.

 

Tucked everywhere on tables or in corners, you will find little touches of pink in the floral arrangements.

 

Even the shops displayed their wares against pink walls, or in pink jewelry boxes. The dolls were made of pink sequins. I didn’t get the pink walls behind these silver and sequined shells but they were there.

 

One room showed an example of what to expect if you arranged for them to serve a special dinner for you and special guests, or just that special someone – and of course, all in pink! Very romantic, if you are into that sort of setting!

 

The pink theme is evident even when you are walking around the gardens outside the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

PINK GINGER
PINK GINGER

 

PINK HIBISCUS
PINK HIBISCUS

 

WHITE HIBISCUS WITH PINK CENTER
WHITE HIBISCUS WITH PINK CENTER

 

Even if not the true pink you find in most of the hotel, some plants either looked pink or were in the same color value, like red or lavender.

RED GINGER
RED GINGER

 

LAVENDAR ORCHIDS
LAVENDAR ORCHIDS

 

RED TI PLANT
RED TI PLANT

 

Although I’m typically not a “pink person,” I had loads of fun taking pictures of all the “pink” at the hotel. I hope you enjoyed my “birthday pink” celebration!

A hui hou!

August 2009 Update

8-22-09 August Catch up
GARDEN CLUBBERS
GARDEN CLUBBERS

(photo courtesy of Charles Tobias)

 

The July meeting of our Ocean View Garden Club was at my place. I told them I was definitely a work in progress and not a show place (yet)! They all wanted to see what was growing on my acre because they’d read my blog and seeing a garden that was not finished gave them hope. This post is my monthly catch-up with what’s going on here.

At my front door is this hanging fuschia.

 

Just below that is my cluster of orchid plants. Here is the latest bloom poking a head through the leaves.

 

As I stand on my front stoop and look out, this is what I see.

 

Here it is when I step down and look at these plants from another angle.

 

These are the Atom Gladiolas. The description from Old House Gardens states that it is a “brilliant red cooled by the finest edging of silver.” They are smaller than most glads and they provide a bright spot of color against my gray/black lava.

 

I cropped out the Spic and Span Glad from one of the photos above so you could see the difference in color. This is closer to the normal size of gladiola and runs from coral to pink. Both the Atom and the Spic/Span glads are heirloom bulbs dating from 1946. It’s too bad that the blooms don’t last longer.

 

Let’s walk on around to the right side of the house and look at my small beds of veggies. The sugar snap peas are full of blooms, and I’ve gotten a few pods to add to salads. You can see a piece of my patch of mustard greens.

 

I have several of these Thai hot peppers that will give me something to toss into my hot Thai cooking! If you’ve seen the little firey hot peppers in a Thai dish, that’s what I have here. It takes a mighty brave soul to bite into those with haste!

 

One of my students gave me a pot with a macadamia nut seedling. I was afraid it wouldn’t make it at first, but suddenly new leaves started to shoot out. I’ll give it a fair chance to make it before I transfer it out of the pot.

 

Walking back toward the shed, I have arugula and tomatoes, string beans and okra. I’m making salads with the arugula, but the tomatoes only have blooms so far. There are a few tiny beans that are in the process of becoming bigger beans. Here are a few pods of okra I’ve harvested. I toss a few of these in with whatever I’m cooking up in the skillet.

 

In the patio area I have beets growing, but not as many as I’d like to see. I need to buy more seeds for a fresh planting. These coffee berries will eventually turn bright red and I’ll be able to harvest them. How exciting to see these green berries. I hope I can get a pot of coffee out of my own trees.

 

Here is the Little Beeswings Dahlia that produced a few small blooms.

 

I think my favorite dahlia is the Prince Noir. I hope that eventually I’ll get a whole bush full of these gorgeous blooms.

 

Recently, a colleague gave me several bags of bromeliad and one has actually bloomed for me already!

 

Of course, I would love a whole yard of daylilies. Some of the ones I’ve planted have started to bloom.

 

The pikake plant is full of fragrant blossoms, about three times the number just since I took this photo a couple weeks ago.

 

I was given a small shoot of this plant. People have given it several names, but after looking on the internet, I’m still not sure what it is. If anyone can give me a link to what it is, I’d appreciate it. It’s been called a “stick plant,” but I’m sure that’s not it. It has also been called “zigzag plant,” but it doesn’t look exactly like the pictures on the web.

 

It seems like there’s always something waiting to be planted – like these bags of plants given by a friend.

 

And like most gardeners, I have so much more to be done. Like any addict, I keep buying more seeds than I’ll ever be able to plant!

A hui hou!

 

A Trip Around the Stanford Quad

 

It seems that most large universities, as well as some smaller ones, have a “quad.” When I was a campus minister at University of Arizona, there was a massive quad where students and faculty hung out, played Frisbee, studied, slept, nuzzled with someone special, or whatever else they could find to do.

For an old college instructor like me, being on the quad of any school is thrilling. From the moment I first set foot in a classroom as a teacher, from kindergarten through university, I have loved teaching and being on a campus, being a part of campus life. I think I’d be deliriously happy just hanging out in a university library doing research in musty old tomes.

My visit to Stanford University (guided by a friend who is a Professor Emeritus from the Medical School there) included their quad. He added to my limited knowledge of the campus.

As we approached the main building of the quad, I was drawn to the floral arrangement in the center of the vast lawn.

 

It wasn’t until I stood a little elevated and distant from the floral arrangement that I realize the flowers created a large “S” for Stanford. I wondered if everyone else who visits miss it at first like I did.

 

Everything about the Stanford campus has history behind it. A walk along the corridor of the main building takes us back more than a century.

 

One of the stones on the floor of the corridor commemorated the centennial.

 

Each graduating class added a stone showing the year. This is the first one, laid by the graduating class of 1892!

 

You can walk along the corridor and see a class for every single year since then. A nice tradition!

 

And here is the latest one – for the class of 2009.

 

One of the pillars shows some of the damage done by the Loma Prieta earthquake of October 17, 1989, almost twenty years ago. You can read more about it here and here.

 

Other news articles discuss the donations and work done to renovate the Stanford campus . . .

 

. . .and how it looked 15 years later.

That last link has excellent pictures and history of the quake, including more information about the World Series that had to be cancelled that day. To read about damage that is more specific to Stanford, go here.

One dominating attraction on the quad is the Memorial Church

 

This chapel was built by Jane Lathrop Stanford in memory of her husband, Leland Stanford in 1899.

 

This close-up shows the intricate and exquisite mosaic artwork.

 

Due to regular church services being held, visitors were not permitted to enter, so I took many shots outside. I loved this sign in several languages.

 

The courtyard of the chapel offers areas to stroll, rest, meditate.

 

The jacaranda were in full bloom in the chapel courtyard.

 

So many tucked away treasures like these side doors of the church.

 

Every detail was considered, as evidenced by this mosaic floor in the foyer of the chapel.

 

I have included a slide show below of all photos I took around the chapel, many more than are in this post. Today, I end with a shot of these marvelous sculptures near the chapel. In a few weeks, I will do another post that shows the individual statues and who they represent.

 

A hui hou!

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

 

To watch a larger version of this slideshow, click here, then click on the large arrow.

 

San Mateo in Bloom

ROSES ON A PICKET FENCE
ROSES ON A PICKET FENCE

 

I hope you aren’t sick and tired of seeing photos out of California. Even though I lived there for many years, I had forgotten how brilliant the flowers could be. Part of the time I was there for my May-June visit, I stayed with friends who live in San Mateo. We walked all over their neighborhood and I was stunned by the abundance of beautiful roses. The geraniums are like weeds in California!

Please enjoy the photos! There isn’t much I can add about them, so I’ve put them here in a slide show for you.

 

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

I suggest that you go here to get the slideshow in a larger version and get the full benefit of the beauty.

Tiptoe through the…Sweet Peas?

 

I must have gotten to the market on California Avenue in Palo Alto too late in the season to see tulips, but there were plenty of other flowers to enjoy! The sweet aroma of huge bunches of sweet peas was almost overpowering. These in the above photo gave my room a wonderful ambience.

Other flowers that were in great abundance were the gerberas, iris, roses, dahlias and so many other spring blooms.

 

Brilliant yellow iris filled buckets everywhere I looked, almost in competition with the various colors of the cauliflower in the background.

 

Flowers everywhere! Of course, I was so envious of any farmer who had enough good soil to grow this kind of beauty. When I got home, however, I was happy to see so many of my canna, daylilies, and gladiolus bulbs had grown. I’ll show those on next week’s post.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many Canterbury Bells in one spot in my life! The color combination of these blossoms with raspberries was like eye candy for the soul.

 

Even though I live in “orchid land,” I still get a thrill at the sight of the Phaleonopsis (also spelled Phalaeonopsis), also often called the moth orchid.

 

I was pleased to see a display of eco-pots. Produced by the Sweetwater Nursery in Sepastapol, these pots can replace your clay or plastic pots. They are made of substances that are by-products of renewable and sustainable crops. Even when they can no longer be used, the pots are biodegradable.

 

Cole Canyon Farm had so many wonderful varieties of herbs. Please visit their site for information on purchasing and growing not only herbs, but veggies and fruits. I was especially interested in this display of mints. I didn’t know there were so many varieties. I want to taste them all!

 

I wanted to bring home one of each of these! I’ve looked all over for seeds for some of these varieties.

 

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these aromatic thymes, mostly because the saying by the famous “anonymous” is so correct! I may start using that as part of my signature on emails. Currently, I use “live gently on the earth,” another philosophy I attempt to adhere to.

 

This basket of basil looks like the profusion of sweet basil I grow in my own garden. I will soon make up a big batch of fresh pesto when I harvest mine. I can’t use up enough of it on a daily basis.

 

The New Natives company started out almost thirty years ago with wheatgrass as their original product. Since then, they have branched out into all kinds of healthy sprouts. This crop is experiencing renewed popularity. You can read about some of the health benefits here.

 

I need to tell you that there is so much more at this market than just fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. These next few photos come in the “miscellaneous” category, but they are as important as anything else I’ve talked about in these posts.

For example, who couldn’t resist having fresh pasta?

 

I absolutely adore fresh oysters! Too bad that we have to import our oysters from Washington and the East Coast here.

 

In Hawaii, we have our “huli huli chicken” – an enormous rotisserie along the side of the road that sends delicious smells into your open car window as you drive by. At this California market, I found RoliRoti Chicken.

 

Of course, no one can go to the Bay Area without eating hot sour dough bread. Pardon me while I drool for a few minutes!

 

At the end of the rows of produce, there was this musician giving us a background that was totally in keeping with the ambience of the market.

 

I’ll end this series on the California Avenue Farmers’ Market with a scene that is familiar to those who live in the Bay Area, or visit there often. I think most people understand when I say that I both miss it and don’t miss it. In case you want to go back and check out the other two in this series, go here and here.

 

Next week, I’m going to give you a break from California and show you an update of my garden. Things are beginning to grow again.

In the meantime, you might like to enjoy a slideshow of the California Avenue photos all in one place.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf
Click here to see a full sized slide show.

A hui hou!

 

Florida Sunken Gardens

(Note: all the individual pictures in this post link to larger images in Flickr; just click on the smaller images you see here.)

Last year, my brother at inkwatu.com invited me to offer two guest posts. This year, I’m excited that I can reciprocate. Be sure to check out last week’s post, which was also from him. When I visit him in Florida later this year, I will know I’ve gotten on his nerves when he takes me to visit the Sunken Gardens! It is with great love and joy that I present my brother, Hilton. I’ll be back next week. Mahalo, Hilton!

A hui hou!

 

CHILEAN FLAMINGOS
CHILEAN FLAMINGOS

A BOTANICAL EXPERIENCE

That’s the “tag line” for the St. Petersburg Sunken Gardens. It’s well chosen. The afternoon I first visited the St. Petersburg Sunken gardens, was following a particularly stressful job interview and negotiations. I bought my ticket to the gardens—actually, I bought a year pass which I’ll discuss shortly—and entered into four acres of solitude and reflection right in the heart of downtown St. Pete. Slowly walking along winding paths that conceal then reveal verdant surprises, the tranquility helped me make up my mind about how to proceed with the issues that led me to seek some respite. The experience totally satisfied my need for garden paths, ivy covered rugged stone walls, miniature water fall fountains, and koi ponds. The Sunken Gardens botanical experience was exactly what I needed that day.

It was apparently what other people needed, too. A small troop of kindergarteners immediately fell silent upon walking into this magical world. A middle aged woman and her mother spending an afternoon together walked about. A soon-to-be bride and groom and their best-man and bridal attendant where there checking out the area where weddings are conducted. The occasional other single senior, such as myself, moseyed about, taking pictures, sitting on benches, or just standing, listening to the birds.

BOUGAINVILLEA
BOUGAINVILLEA
CAMELLIA
CAMELLIA
HOSTA
HOSTA
CURCUMA GINGER
CURCUMA GINGER

HISTORY

Here’s a quote from the Sunken Gardens brochure about the history of the attraction:

“Sunken Gardens has been a landmark in St. Petersburg since 1935, when it officially opened as Turner’s Sunken Gardens. In 1903, the four acre property was purchased by George Turner, Sr., a plumber, who was an avid gardener. He drained a shallow lake, that dropped 15 feet below street level to provide a rich soil to grow fruits and exotic plants from all over the world. By 1924, his amazing garden was attracting visitors who paid 25 cents for a stroll through the beautiful, lush gardens. Papayas, citrus and exotic plants brought the tropics to this subtropical area. Grover heaters were brought in to heat the magnificent Royal Palms, bougainvillea and other cold sensitive tropical plants during the winter. The garden became world renowned for its unique collection of plants and colorful blooms. In the 1950s, exotic wildlife was added to the growing botanical attraction… In 1998, Sunken Gardens was designated a local historic landmark, and in 1999 it was purchased by the City of St. Petersburg.”

There are 24 different areas of the botanical gardens. My personal favorites are the Chilean flamingos, the parrots and other exotic birds, the bromeliads, the lily ponds, the various koi ponds and miniature waterfall fountains, the Japanese garden, the arched bridge, the little spots to meditate and rest, the tropical fruit garden, and the butterfly garden.

Adjoining the gift shop for the Sunken Gardens is the Great Explorations Children’s Museum. Although it is adjoining the gardens, it is completely separate physically so the quietude of Sunken Gardens is preserved.

LOTUS BLOSSOM (WATER LILY)
LOTUS BLOSSOM (WATER LILY)
WATER HYACINTH, NOT YET IN BLOOM
WATER HYACINTH, NOT YET IN BLOOM

WEDDINGS & PRIVATE PARTIES

Another quote from their literature describes their facilities for weddings and private parties:

“Since 1935, Sunken Gardens has been a favorite setting for exchanging those special vows…The Garden Room, a great location for your banquet or reception, is located in the historic 1926 main building. It was designed keeping its history in mind, creating a loft-like feel with high wood ceilings and metal beams. Overlooking the exquisite gardens, this special room’s uniqueness makes it unlike any other wedding experience.”

BENCH AMONG FERNS AND PALMS, AND MONSTERA VINE GROWING UP TREE
BENCH AMONG FERNS AND PALMS WITH MONSTERA VINE GROWING UP TREE

MORE LINKS FOR ST. PETERSBURG SUNKEN GARDENS

The following are the best links I found for additional information and reviews of the Sunken Gardens.

ONE OF MANY WATER FOUNTAINS
ONE OF MANY WATER FOUNTAINS

OTHER GARDENS

I find it particularly interesting that the Sunken Gardens began as a non-commercial enterprise, the private garden of an individual expressing their love of the garden experience. My sister’s website, Lava to Lilikoi (lavalily.com/) covers her own garden and farming on the side of a volcano on the Big Island (the Island of Hawaii) in the state of Hawaii. Weekly, she chronicles her gardening in photos and narrative. She has also had posts on private gardens of other people (mostl in Hawaii) that show the kind of personal devotion to gardening George Turner, Sr. had with what became, eventually, the St. Pete Sunken Gardens. Please take a peek at these posts of Lucy’s on some lovely private gardens:

I know absolutely nothing about plants or flowers. I’m just a person who loves to bask in their beauty and oxygen. But, Lucy is the opposite in that regard. Horticulture is definitely one of her things! She helped me identify the flowers in the pictures I took for this post. But, even she wasn’t entirely certain of a couple so if we made a mistake, please let us know.

WATER FOUNTAINS AND STONE WALLS

A FOUNTAIN STONE WALL
ANOTHER FOUNTAIN YET ANOTHER FOUNTAIN

YEARLY PASS BENEFITS

I don’t buy many yearly passes to local attractions, but I bought one for the St. Petersburg Sunken Gardens. For a senior, it’s only $35 ($40 for non-seniors; $50 for Family, that includes membership for two adults in the same household and dependent children through the 12th grade or two grandparents with their grandchildren—which I think is a lovely idea). The annual membership is much, much more than free admission for one year. It also includes invitation to members-only events, discounts on special workshops, 10% discount in the gift shop, the newsletter and access to horticultural information. What sold me on buying an annual membership, however, was the free admission to over 145 botanical gardens participating in the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admissions Program (reciprocal program brochure). In Florida, alone, there are 16 participating gardens, including the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens just across the Skyway Bridge down in Sarasota and the Florida Botanical Gardens up in the northern part of the county that I covered in the Inkwatu Florida Botanical Gardens post.

KOI

KOI MORE KOI
EVEN MORE KOI YET MORE KOI

BECOMING A BENEFACTOR (INDIVIDUAL AND CORPORATE)

There are also joint plans that combine the gardens with tickets to Great Explorations. It is especially important in a depressed economy that those who can donate to educational causes such as the Sunken Gardens do so. They have a variety of options from Contributing members at only $100, that gives you a family membership plus 5 free admissions guest passes, up through Private Benefactor, that includes quite a number of special privileges, and Corporate Benefactor, that includes such really nice features as a special employee day with free admission and special activities, company signs during special events, complimentary individual memberships for employees, and several other benefits.

CALADIUM (ELEPHANT EAR)
CALADIUM (ELEPHANT EAR)

COMING EVENTS

There are a number of workshops and special shows throughout the year, most of which are either free with the annual membership or offered at a discount with the membership. One coming up in March which I plan to attend and cover in Inkwatu is the Orchid Festival, Sunday, March 22, 10am to 4:30pm. which features commercial orchid growers from Florida, lectures throughout the day and thousands of orchids for sale. It will be free with paid daily admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors (55+), $4 children (2-11) or free for annual members.

Sunken Gardens is located at 1825 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33704; general information 727-551-3102; wedding and rental information: (727) 551-3106. It is open Monday through Saturday 10am to 4:30pm and Sunday, noon to 4:30pm.

PELARGONIUM (GERANIUM)
PELARGONIUM (GERANIUM)

Florida Botanical Gardens

Last year, my brother at inkwatu.com invited me to offer two guest posts. This year, I’m excited that I can reciprocate. I am unable to post anything myself this week and next, so you will have the pleasure of seeing what Florida has to offer! Actually, many of the plants there are the same that we have here in Hawai`i, except that Florida has soil as well as higher humidity. It is with great love and joy that I present my brother, Hilton.

A hui hou!

 

The pictures in this post are all of the Florida Botanical Gardens
and are in random order, unrelated to the text.

Kids have “mountain top” experiences that key in to fundamental aspects of their intrinsic personalities and unlock an affinity that lasts for the rest of their lives. Visual memories come floating up throughout their lives whenever circumstances similar to the peek experience occur. Such a formative experience for me was visiting the Jewel Box, in St. Louis, Missouri, as a child.

Forest Park is a very large St. Louis park (descriptions vary from 13 ½ to 17 acres) dating from the late 1800s that is home to the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Muny opera (outdoor light opera), the St. Louis Science Center, the McDonnell Planetarium, and the Jewel Box.

The Jewel Box is a several storey Art Deco greenhouse built in 1936, partially with WPA funds. It’s on the National Historic Register. Their website describes its dimensions as “50 feet high, 55 feet wide and 144 feet long, containing about 7,500 square feet of floor space.”

It’s recently been rehabilitated to the condition it was in when I was a child. It was a safe place and my parents would let me wander among its labyrinthine paths amidst fake grottos, hills and small waterfalls, or climb the stairs to look out over the spacious interior. When I first read Arthur C. Clarke’s description of the interior of the vast interstellar spaceship in Rendezvous with Rama, the image I formed in my mind bore a strong resemblance to the Jewel Box of my childhood.

A related set of experiences for me, about the same time in my life, were on the grounds of a small inspirational publishing house in Litchfield, Illinois, called the Sunshine House. Much smaller, it nonetheless shared many of the same features of the Jewel Box: wishing well, wandering paths, flowers and plants in faux rock garden settings, soft, piped-in classical music. I still remember hearing J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring on one particular childhood visit to the Jewel Box.

Somewhat later in my life, my love affair with botanical gardens continued into my adolescence with the many hours I was allowed to wander, unescorted, through the numerous parts of the University of Illinois Arboretum while my father was taking professional development courses in Urbana every summer.

The trend continued right up to the present including forays through the U.S. Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and, of course, large open parks with similar enchanted paths such as Forest Park itself, San Diego’s Balboa Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate, and New York’s Central Park. Just south of St. Petersburg, Florida, is Sarasota’s Shelby Gardens that I have tremendously enjoyed and which definitely fits the wandering-through-the-magic-of-nature mold. I suspect that the reason botanical gardens attract us so much is that they resonate to the motif of the enchanted land into which the hero must venture and then return that is part of The Hero’s Journey explained in the book of the same name by Joseph Campbell.

Which brings us—finally—to the topic of this post: The Florida Botanical Gardens, located right here in Pinellas County. The gardens are actually one of three attractions at the Pinewood Cultural Park: the Florida Botanical Gardens, the Gulfcoast Museum of Art, and Heritage Village. A map of the entire grounds can be found here. You will definitely need the map as the grounds are quite extensive. So far, I have only been to the botanical gardens portion. That alone took several hours to enjoy, so I would not attempt all three attractions in the same day.

The Florida Botanical Gardens features native Florida flora (and some wild fauna), primarily Bromeliads, Palms, and Herbs. In addition to some large areas such as the Wildlife & Natural Habitats and the Aquatic Habitat Demonstration Area, it’s organized around smaller themed gardens: the Patio Garden, Herb Garden, Tropical Fruit Garden, Seasonal Garden, Succulent Garden, Butterfly Garden, Bromeliad Garden, Palm Garden, Formal Gardens, Wedding Garden, Topiary Garden, Rose Garden, Jazz Garden, Cottage Garden, Tropical Walk, Tropical Courtyard, Sculpture Gardens, and the Native Plant Garden. (That’s a heck of a lot of Gardens!)

One feature of their website is worth making note of: What’s In Bloom by Month. That will help you plan the timing of your visit to best advantage. Information can also be found at their website on the Wedding Garden, mentioned above, that is available for garden weddings.

When your out-of-town relatives visit, take them to the Florida Botanical Gardens. I highly recommend it. (Especially if they are getting on your nerves and you need some space and silence!) Admission is free and it’s an excellent environment within which kids may have formative emotional experiences as I did, long ago at the Jewel Box.

A Country Haven

GATE TO CONNIE'S HAVEN
click here for larger image
GATE TO CONNIE’S HAVEN

 

It’s hard to believe that only twelve miles away is a hideaway this lush and fertile! On twenty acres of volcanic land that has decomposed, my friend Connie has created a delicious and peaceful botanical garden.

My friend, Velvet and I were invited to come and take pictures. Once we were through the gate shown above, we walked along this beautiful roadway.

LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY
click here for larger image
LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY

 

All along each side were many plants and flowers. It is obvious a great deal of loving care has gone into developing her acreage. Tucked into the ferns were several of the colorful Stromanthe sanguinea.

STROMANTHE
click here for larger image
STROMANTHE

 

Many were plants that we don’t commonly associate with brilliant or startling color, like this bromeliad with scarlet spotted leaves.

SCARLET BROMELIAD
click here for larger image
SCARLET BROMELIAD

 

Under thick foliage, we discovered hidden treasures like this Japanese lantern.

HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN
click here for larger image
HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN

 

I love looking back through the foliage and wondering what else is back there.

VIEW INTO THE FOREST
click here for larger image
VIEW INTO THE FOREST

 

Color keeps popping up everywhere.

MORE COLOR
click here for larger image
MORE COLOR

 

Even without color, most plants are striking and dramatic.

DRAMATIC GREENERY
click here for larger image
DRAMATIC GREENERY

 

At one point, we stopped and looked back along the path. I would love to live at the end of this lane, hidden from the world.

LOOKING BACK
click here for larger image
LOOKING BACK

 

Finally, we reached Connie’s living space. In addition to the flowers, I’m always attracted to the figurines. This heavenly angel keeps watch over the flora and fauna.

ANGEL
click here for larger image
ANGEL

 

She is joined by the Buddha in protecting the property.

BUDDHA
click here for larger image
BUDDHA

 

I was stunned at the size and beauty of her yellow native Hawai`ian hibiscus. I found out that mine is from a cutting of this particular plant. Click on each of these small pictures to see a full-sized version.

 

This climbing Mandevilla vine gave me a great idea for my own property. It is a way to lift the color up off the ground and toward the sky.

CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE
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CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE

 

Here is a bit of whimsy.

DOGZILLA
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DOGZILLA

 

There are too many scenes of flowers and greenery to show individually. Please take time to look through this slideshow before continuing to read this post.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

For a larger version of this slideshow, click here.

 

I’m also envious of this shade house. I don’t need shade on my property, because it rarely stays very sunny for any length of time, but a shade house makes it possible to keep many shade-loving plants together in one spot.

SHADE HOUSE
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SHADE HOUSE

 

Ideas for my own place kept coming to me throughout the morning we were at Connie’s. At the end of the day, what better place to enjoy a cup of tea and to survey your work?

A RESTING PLACE
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A RESTING PLACE

 

Another bit of information about Connie . . . she is the owner of TLC, a business providing indoor plant services. If you want to contact her, leave a note in the comments and I’ll let her know you are interested.

For the next two weeks, my brother Hilton will be the guest poster. He lives in Florida and writes a travel/food blog about the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay area. Please visit to see some of the gardens of Florida.

A hui hou!