Scenes From A Tropical Plant Sale

Spring in South Florida is plant sale season. Cities and garden clubs throughout the region are hosting sales of flowering shrubs, palms, exotics, and native plants — and very often, gardeners drive a long way to find their perfect plant, a great deal, or both.

Fortunately for me, the Tropical Plant Sale in Wilton Manors, FL, was only about a 7-minute drive. There, on the grounds of a historic house and under a canopy of palms, I  lost myself among the vendors lining the paths. It was a cool (in South Florida terms) morning, and the rainbow of colors looked especially fresh and crisp.

Naturally, since this is South Florida, orchids stole the show. In fact, my only purchase was an orchid with small burgundy blooms in a white-glazed ceramic pot.

A South Florida plant sale and farmers’ market wouldn’t be complete without a large assortment of locally produced honey.

I literally stopped in my tracks and gasped when I spotted this bromeliad.

Tucked among the assortment of orchids and bromeliads were a few surprises, some of which were old friends and others that were new-to-me surprises.

Oxalis just makes me smile.

This iris was so close to blooming.

A display of hanging pots filled with pitcher plants.

When I saw this climber, Monkey’s Brush, for the first time, I had to steady myself.


While I have your attention, I wanted to send a special thank you to my friend and fellow blogger, She wrote and posted a lovely review of my book Seeing Green, and I’m so happy she enjoyed it and was moved to write about it.

If you would like to win a free copy, simply leave a comment here about spring. What’s your favorite part about spring? How do you prepare your garden? What is a favorite spring gardening memory? Do you have a spring gardening hack you would like to share? (If you left a similar comment on the previous post, you’re off the hook on this one. You’re already entered to win a copy.) The deadline to leave a comment is April 16.

Field Trip: Tree Tops Park

When I first heard of Tree Tops Park, I imagined a public park with treehouses and tree walkways to give visitors a bird’s-eye view among the branches and canopy. In reality, the only thing to climb is an observation tower — otherwise, visitors keep their feet on the ground and look upward. No matter how you look at them, though, the trees at Tree Tops Park are tops.

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Field Trip: Fern Forest Nature Center

Hidden beneath the asphalt and manicured communities, the condo towers and man-made canals of southeastern Florida, there is Old Florida — very, very Old Florida.  It’s the Florida that existed long before Henry Flagler built the railroad that opened this region of the state to developers.  It is, perhaps, the Florida that greeted the first settlers.

That idea is what inspired a group of scientists from Florida Atlantic University and Broward Community College.  It was 1979, and their article, “A Tropical Fern Grotto In Broward County,” was published in the American Fern Journal.  That 247-acre grotto was actually a remnant of how Broward County once looked.  More than 30 species of ferns were found living among  200+ species of other plants, all of which inhabited swamp forests, hammocks, pinelands, and prairie ecosystems.

As a result, the land was made a Designated Urban Wilderness Area and named Fern Forest Nature Center.  Walking through the habitat, on both boardwalks and natural paths, allows visitors to take a step back in Florida history.

Much of Florida sits on limestone. Here, large moss-covered chunks make up the floor of the habitat.

The prairie habitat is adjacent to . . .

. . . the swamp habitat, where the leaves of swamp plants resemble leaves on the reflected branches.

Just about ready to bloom.

A convict caterpillar, which will eventually become a Spanish moth.

Cypress trees make up a large number of the plants growing in the swamp forest. They’re easy to identify because of their “knees.”

A close-up of cypress knees.

Air plant colonies are well established along the branches of many of the trees.

More air plants.

The habitat provides food and shelter for wildlife, either alone . . .

. . . or the whole family.

Fern spores on the underside of a frond.


Vines are quite happy here.

I’m not sure of this plant’s identity (it could be the invasive Brazilian Pepper Tree) — I just thought it looked like it was ready for the holidays.

Fern Forest Nature Center is located at 201 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33063. It’s open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week, except for some holidays. Check out their calendar for various events.

Bloomin’ Update 60: An Autumnal Interlude

If the transition from winter to spring in South Florida is subtle, the one between summer and fall is practically invisible. While autumn is already a few weeks old — according to the calendar and posts from northern gardeners — the weather forecasters in Zone 10 say that anything resembling fall (temperatures below 70) will not arrive until sometime in November — and that will most likely happen while I’m fast asleep.

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Living And Working In Eden

For decades, Joe and I — first, as tourists; now, as residents — have looked around South Florida and said, “Florida, my Eden.” We’ve said it as we’ve marveled at the lush tree canopy of botanical gardens, as we’ve gazed at tables of flowers and fields of shrubs and trees in local nurseries, as we’ve walked about and worked in our own garden, and as I took photos for this post.

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Two Guys And A Farm

When Santiago Arroyo (left) met Jason Long (right), it was the start of a bountiful friendship. When the two men worked side-by-side in a Florida-farmer apprenticeship program, they not only cultivated a friendship but they shared a common vision of how farming could change the way people live, eat, and think about food.

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