Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Florida Botanical Gardens

We took our son Mike to the Tampa Airport very early Monday morning.  Consequently I was a bit tired and grumpy once we returned home.  Maybe it was a bit of a let-down to have everyone gone and the wedding festivities over with.  We called John's sister Carolyn to check out their plans for the day.  She and her husband Jim were not returning to Missouri until Wednesday.  As luck would have it, they missed their exit north after leaving the airport and were heading south on interstate 75 to Largo, Florida.  I remembered that the botanical gardens were there so John suggested we meet up with Carolyn and Jim for lunch and go to the gardens from there.  Suddenly getting outside and seeing more of Florida's natural beauty sounded like a wonderful idea to me!  And Florida Botanical Gardens did not disappoint me at all.  The gardens have a blend of Florida native plants as well as exotic ornamentals from around the world.  Outside of the entry building for the garden is a native garden where we noticed a fig tree with fruit on it (pictured below).  How unusual to see the figs growing coming out of the trunk!
Later on in the afternoon we found another fig tree with its fruit hanging from short stems, however the fruit still came out of the trunk and branches.  Speaking of trees, we discovered a citrus fruit tree which is called a "fruit salad tree".  It produces three different kinds of fruit: a Valencia Orange, Naval Orange and a Meyer Lemon.   Currently all the fruit on the tree is green,  all the different kinds of fruit can probably be seen in a few more weeks.  Another interesting tree in the gardens is the tropical pink dogwood, which is unlike any dogwood that I have seen! 
Of course any botanical garden in Florida is bound to have some wetlands.   It was at McKay Creek, which flows through the gardens, where we saw a small alligator and a moor hen.
I really enjoyed the vinery area of the gardens where many of the plants are currently in bloom.   Most fascinating to me is the bleeding heart vine, pictured below.  There is also an allamanda vine which currently has brilliant yellow and pink blooms.
There was so much beauty in the garden which lifted my spirits considerably!  It is very much a tropical paradise. The weather has turned cooler now and I do not have the desire I had last week to leave Florida, which we did on Tuesday.  My last gem of a picture taken in the garden is that of an angel wing begonia.

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