Before I get into the heart of this post, I’d like to take a few moments to write about Hurricane Ian. Joe and I live in southeast Florida, where we were placed in a tropical storm warning.
We experienced several feeder bands, which resulted in about 8” of rain, some gusty winds, and a 24-hour tornado watch. During that time, we experienced about a dozen actual tornado warnings. None of these touched down in our area. At the same time, the canal — actually a river — in our backyard never rose above the seawall. We are extremely relieved and fortunate — and we truly have nothing about which to complain.
Yet, we cannot stop thinking of friends, family, and so many others who live about 120 miles west of us, along the southwest coast of the state. Our hearts and thoughts are with all of you — not only through the storm, but also as you begin recovery and rebuilding.
In the days following the storm, it felt as if a very somber mood settled across our area. Perhaps, it was my projecting my own emotions on the situation — but I also think many people had a similar nagging thought: There but for the grace of God — or the unseen & random movements of upper-level weather patterns — go I. Hurricane Ian just wasn’t our turn, but the next storm could be.
Wherever you are, please be strong and be safe and be patient. The storm was one headache, but this next phase will require so much more from all of us.
The flower posted above is a rain lily. It bloomed the day after the clouds and rain from Hurricane Ian moved away from Fort Lauderdale. It sort of gave me a sense of hope and promise. I hope it does the same for you.
While experiencing the feeder bands from Hurricane Ian, I spent what felt like hours scrolling through photos on my phone. My plan was to delete some and organize the rest into folders. You know, a rainy day project. That’s when I discovered photos from a January field trip to Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach . . . photos that I had planned on sharing with you in January! Have I mentioned January???
Looking at the photos reminded me that not only was I absentminded, but also that that January day in a botanical garden was far more beautiful than this September day of gusty rain and tornado warnings.
Our plan that day was to take a drive just to get out of the house, to do something in West Palm Beach, which is located in the county just north of us. At one point, we found ourselves on Military Trail, a road that runs along the far west end of Palm Beach International Airport. Joe saw the sign for Mounts first and said, “Isn’t that the botanical garden you’ve wanted to see?” Before I could answer, he made a u-turn and pulled into the parking lot.
Mounts Botanical Garden has 5,000+ species filling 25 display gardens on 16 acres surrounding Lake Orth, pictured above. Here are a few highlights.
On the day of our visit, Mounts was hosting a Lego sculpture exhibit by artist Sean Kenney, part of his Nature POP! Project. His colorful and fanciful pieces, like this rose, were placed throughout the landscape.
I was especially excited when I spotted this vanilla bean orchid. For years, I’ve had two growing in my yard and I have yet to see a single flower — and, therefore, a single seedpod, which is also known as a vanilla bean. This one, though, was proof that vanilla bean orchids are possible in South Florida and not some sort of gardening myth.
Speaking of myths. . . I’ve only ever seen jade vine in plant catalogs and never in a landscape. It’s like the Big Foot of the South Florida garden world. Then, there it was in Mounts — lush and rambling up and over an arbor, that unmistakeable color on full display.
A permanent exhibit is the enormous replicas of Moai sculptures, based on those discovered on Easter Island.
One of my least favorite plants for the Florida landscape is Snake Plant. Northern gardeners will know it as a houseplant. Here, though, it can grow wildly and become invasive when planted in the ground. At Mounts, though, it seems quite naturalized and content — even flowering.
One of the most interesting trees I spotted was the Sausage Tree, a native of tropical Africa. The large, dangling fruit are enjoyed by some wildlife, but are poisonous to people if eaten raw. Once cooked, the pulp and the seeds are edible — although I would like to know how many people died before someone thought to cook it.
Hands down, my favorite display garden was the vegetable garden. From the moment we saw the Lego sculpture . . .
. . . to the colorful rhubarb stems . . .
. . . to the architecturally elegant structure of cabbage.
As we exited the garden, I spotted one last mystery flower — a single flower cluster growing among the twisted vines covering a wooden footbridge. I loved its crepe paper-like blooms, but I couldn’t find any identification information.
As amazing as the day was then, it was just as amazing to look back on. I hope you enjoyed this journey into my memory — or lapsed memory, as the case may be.
Wherever you are and whatever climatological, geological, or emotional storm is impacting your life, be strong, be patient, be prepared, be safe.