There is something other-worldly about the plants here in Florida for this northerner. You’ll have to excuse me if I can’t match names to all these beauties — I’m still learning!
There are plants growing on other plants
(like these ferns growing on what I believe is a Canary Island date palm – Phoenix canariensis).
Or these bromeliads growing on this tree above.
Or the staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) perched on this smooth-trunked crepe myrtle tree (Lagerstroemia).
There are plants that are monstrous and deadly, like this Agave americana (I actually found this growing in the front yard of a neighbourhood house near where we’re staying)…
… and then there are delicate beauties, like these Bulbine frutescens, used as a massed groundcover, with foliage that looks to me like green onion. This unassuming plant is reported to have powerhouse medicinal properties, primarily useful for skin conditions (much like Aloe).
There is everything from the shockingly beautiful blooms on this Aechmea cultivar (either Aechmea ‘Blue Tango’ or Aechmea Del Mar), both patented varieties of bromeliad….
…. to this weird topiary of Mickey being boosted over a wall — all covered in creeping fig (Ficus pumila)!
Most of these plants were being showcased at the Florida Botanical Garden, a delightful and free public garden located in St. Petersburg, Florida. We liked it especially because it was the only public garden we found that allowed well-behaved, leashed dogs!
In this garden, one can find views that showed the garden designer’s artifice, like the one below (what do you think about these trees for your Brooklyn garden, James?):
…. to the naturally beautiful, with this water view below:
This garden was first open to the public in December 2000, with a portion of the gardens being completed in ten months at the cost of $6 million dollars. This original money came from a voluntary sales tax fund imposed by Pinellas County. Of the 160 acres that is under the direction the FBG, only 25 of these have been (or are being) developed. The majority of the land had been privately owned, including 30 acres that had been a landfill site. Amazingly, the county has committed to providing maintenance to the garden while the Foundation’s mandate is to secure funding for further expansion.
Since 2000, much of the infrastructure including hardscape, buildings (this includes an art museum), walls, seating areas, a wedding garden with a gazebo, etc. has been completed at the cost of $18 million dollars.
The people who work for the Parks and Recreation Department of Pinellas County take care of this garden but they receive important help from the Pinellas County Master Gardeners, which is an extension program at the University of Florida.
The mission of this Botanical Garden includes providing a space that educates, delights, inspires through its practice of sustainability and conservation, relates to the community and their needs, as well as maintains the integrity of the natural environment. I think it is well on the way to becoming a world-class garden.