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

19 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Meems, It is great that you get to treasure your Mother while she is able to be with you. Thank you for the tour of the gardens. The gardens are outstanding. I just love bromeleiads. I think they are so intersting. It would be fun to study all the dragonflies. I bet there were some interesting ones to be seen. They are as colorful as the blossoms.

garden girl said...

Meems, what a lovely way to spend Mother's Day!

The gardens are beautiful. So many things to see. I enjoyed the creative use of the fountain as a planter.

I just love dragonflies - how cool to see so many in one place.

SophieMae said...

Would you believe I've never been to Cypress Gardens?! Not that I haven't had the desire... I was so upset when they closed the place - and elated when it was resurrected. One day, maybe...

Your pictures should be in some of their ads! My favourite, though, was the last one. What a tremendous blessing to have a mother who loves you! It's pretty obvious you don't need any reminders about treasuring every moment with her. 8-]

Meems said...

Lisa: It is a blessing to be with my mom and to have her so close by too.

I don't think I've ever seen dragonflies that large. We definitely don't have them here.I've been meaning to do some research on them to see what attracts them. It does seem like I have many more than usual this spring right here at hoe & shovel.
Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

Linda: It was a time Mom and I will both treasure.We've taken a few road trips together over the years and always have lots of fun. There were so many more photos and interesting points- just had to choose my faves of the faves. Loved the dragonflies too.


Sophie: Yes, I would believe it because there are places in my beloved state I still haven't seen. I think we do that because it is close by and we think of going places far away. I hope you can get there someday-- it so much less commercial (and peaceful) than some of the theme parks just down the road from there. :-)
Glad you liked the photos.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

What a special Mother's Day treat for you and your mom! I'd love to do that with my mom too.

Thank you for sharing your Cypress Gardens tour with us, it was the next best thing to being there. Lovely pictures!

Nancy J. Bond said...

Thanks for sharing your garden tour with us, Meems -- everything is extraordinarily beautiful! The poem that you ended your post with is beautiful, as well.

Blossom said...

What a perfect way to spend Mother's Day! Such a beautiful place. I'm itching to head south and see some of our lovely public gardens in the Vancouver/Victoria area someday soon.

Cheryl said...

Hi Meems....Lovely post and you have brought back some beautiful memories for me. I went to Cypress Gardens in the eighties with my family. They have changed a lot since I was there. My children loved the water displays and my husband and I loved the beautiful surroundings.
So glad you and your Mum had such a lovely time on Mothers Day and thank you for bring back some wonderful memories.

Gail said...

meems,

How lovely a day the two of you made....and all your wonderful photographs...especially the Hollyhocks. They are a simple flower and they were my mother's favorite. I loved seeing them and they made me smile!

Thanks,
Gail

shirl said...

Hey Meems, what a great way to spend Mother's Day :-D

What a fantastic display of flowers - a real celebration :-D

Have a great week :-D

Cinj said...

What a fabulous way to spend Mother's day. What a lovely garden tour. I'd love to go visit that garden someday.

I love those petunia baskets, they're gorgeous!

cindee said...

That is so beautiful! What a wonderful day you had!!!!

Leslie said...

How wonderful to be able to take road trips with your Mom...and what a happy photo of the two of you!I lost my mom before I was ever able to do anything like that and I so love to hear about other people who manage to make it happen. And what a great gardeners' trip... I love the cardinal especially!

Frances, said...

Hi Meems, your non rushed visit time with just you and your mother sounds perfect. What a magical place Cypress Gardens must be, those topiaries and that arch of white begonias, wowee. I gasped out loud when it showed up on the scrolling of your post. Sounds like a great weekend. Wonderful.

Frances at Faire Garden

Kylee said...

Meems, what a great post! I can just see the love between you and your mom. I'm sure the day will be remembered for many, many years.

I loved the photos from Cypress Gardens. I too went there as a child and again in the late 80s. Here is a photo of my mom and me at Cypress Gardens. ;-)

Meems said...

Robin, Nancy, Amy, Cheryl, Gail, Shirl, Cinj, Cindee, Leslie, Frances, Kylee...

So sorry I've been away from my blog. Gardening life is very intense these days as you all know.

Thanks so much for coming along with mom and I as we took our little mini-break away from the hustle and bustle of life. There are so many great places to see in Florida. We don't have to go far to enjoy beauty. I am ever grateful to have the privilege of sharing special times with my mom.

Cheryl & Kylee: How very cool that you have both been to Cypress Gardens and know what I felt when sauntering through all the wonderful garden areas.

Kylee - I took a peek at your photo from childhood (very cute) and it made me think I probably have one somewhere that looks very similar. :-)

marmee said...

hey sis, it has been forever. your pictures are amazing and your garden looks better than ever. maybe you could use your magic and help me landscape my new farmhouse garden? mom told me about your trip to c. gardens. sounds wonderful. also bout your veggie garden. we have planted an organic veggie garden ourselves mostly from seed so it's just getting started. check it out on myspace.com (marmee)also planted a hummingbird and butterfly garden this year. I am starting all over here but it is fun and challenging.
love you,
sharon

MLM said...

wings of the world and waterless fountain...can you replicate both of those for me at inoj???

Kathleen said...

Love the pics. i'm from mobile so i have not been there but it looks beautiful.