Welcome to my "Florida" blog

Being a third generation Florida native, I'm completely enamored with the diverse beauty of this gorgeous peninsula. For most of the year the weather is divine which makes exploring its unlimited nooks and crannies fun and easy.

Wherever I go I appreciate nature and the world around me. Come along with me as I share the places I visit and perhaps a few other amusements I find interesting along the way.

(FYI: Every post prior to January 1, 2009 was previously published and imported from my garden blog)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Garden Tour for Mother's Day

Mom and I made a two day journey out of our recent visit to Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, FL. Just the two of us staying overnight in a nearby hotel so we could take our time and just hang out together for a couple of days was the way we decided to celebrate Mother's Day together.

What is so amazing about Cypress Gardens is that it first opened in 1936 as botanical gardens. That's 72 years ago... Dick and Julie Pope carved out this lush garden tourist attraction on the shores of Lake Eloise out of nothing but acres of marsh land.

As Florida's original tourist attraction, it might be best known for its gravity-defying water ski shows. I will admit ---it was the stunts on the water that made the biggest impression on me when I visited these gardens as a child- --- you know, that was just a few years ago. LOL

It had been that many years since either mom or I had been to this tropical oasis in the middle of our great state. We've both talked of wanting to plan this trip for a while. We finally did and it turned out to be a relaxing and fun time just being together with no rushing around and no hurried schedules.

We strolled winding paths with hundreds of trees that provide a canopy over colorful landscape and blooms throughout the gardens. With each turn there is more color and vivid blooming than your eye can possibly take in at once.

The grounds are mapped out nicely with many areas designated to a specific theme. The archway above is entirely live, white, begonia blooms that leads into the Topiary Trail.

You can easily see why the name when there are so many enormous structures made from living flowers like the cardinal and the partridge shown in these photos.

Begonia and creeping fig made up the columns of topiaries.

The hooped-skirt Southern Belles happily pose for photos as they answer questions and welcome guests with ample smiles and friendliness.
Just beyond the topiaries, along the pathway were waterfalls with hillsides laden with masses of tropical shrubbery and blankets of impatiens of every color.

Here the classic ancient singles hollyhocks made a statement above the begonias of the same color. Just before the entrance to the botanical gardens a three-tiered architectural structure spills over with bright pink geraniums like a waterless fountain.
Entering over the bridge, my favorite area was probably the botanical gardens. Many of the plants growing here I have in my own garden at Hoe & Shovel. It was very interesting for me to see the way they have them grouped and to see even more varieties on such a large scale.
One of the fascinating sights was how the dragon flies swirled above us and around us in great numbers as we sauntered through this area. They weren't in other parts of the park. It made me think that if someone wasn't familiar with their friendly ways they could be a little timid because of how many there were. I managed to capture the little blue guy shown in the above photo but there were varieties that were almost the size (in wing span) of a very small bird. I haven't been able to find out a name for them but they were beautiful.

Thinned leafed crotons with varied colored polka dot leaves stand among variegated shell ginger.

Every imaginable variety of palm tree was underplanted as gigantic cypress and oaks towered above.

A plant always associated with the tropics the Bird of Paradise is unique in form and bloom.

Under the dappled shade the Australian Tree Fern thrives.

All the walkways were lined with container gardens overflowing with combinations of ferns, draceanas of all types, coleus, bromeliads, and flowering annuals in every imaginable color and shape.

Orchids and bromeliads blooming together in a tiered planter living outdoors-- loving the heat of Florida.
The monochromatic perfectly uniformed shape of the hanging baskets lined the circular entrance to the Wings of the World building. In here there were more displays of naturally growing tropical combinations and butterflies freely fluttered from plant to plant without a care even of the human gawking.
Thank you, Mom, for another time together I will treasure in my heart for years to come. Happy Mother's Day to you and a much deserved day of celebrating the beauty of you. I couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate than to share our love of gardening and to spend uninterrupted time having great fun with my friend and my mom.
All mothers are rich when they love their children.
There are no poor mothers, no ugly ones, no old ones.
Their love is always the most beautiful of the joys.
And when they seem most sad, it needs but a kiss which they receive
or give to turn all their tears into stars in the depth of their eyes.
Maurice Maeterlinck