Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lake Kanapaha Botanical Garden

After our experience Monday we should in the future try to avoid touring museums and parks on that day.  Between rain showers and park closings some of our plans went awry.   Our first stop was in the small town of Micanopy, the state's oldest inland town.  In the early 1800s it was an Indian trading post and a peaceful place where settlers from New York built their homes and farms.   Also living here were descendants of runaway slaves.  In 1835 and 1836 Seminole Wars created a lot of destruction in the town and the town's name became Fort Defiance.  Intentionally the U.S. army finally burned the fort, after first evacuating the people living there.  In 1837 the town was rebuilt and its name restored.  The town has kept many of its older buildings- now antique and curio shops occupy many of them.
Our next stop was Paynes Prairie Preserve.  We wanted to do some hiking there, but rain prevented that.  John was looking forward to seeing a large sinkhole at Devil's Millhopper State Park in Gainsville, which was our next destination.  It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.   It was late afternoon by the time we stopped at Lake Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.  The garden is named for its close proximity to the lake, however it does sit on what the park signs describe as "ephemeral wetland".  It has pockets of water which dry and refill from time to time.  The printed park guide states that June to September are the months of maximum color.  However, we were satisfied with the many blooming plants which we saw yesterday.
What a striking blue color on this ginger plant!  It is not truly a ginger plant but part of the "wandering Jew" family.  The park also has an azalea-camellia garden which provides color for the park during the winter months.  However, we did find some of those plants already in bloom or in the late stages of flowering.
We had never been in a botanical garden before with so many varieties of bamboo!  Kanapaha has the state's largest public collection of the plant.  We have been in some private gardens where it is considered an invasive and not a very desirable plant to have around.  When its shoots emerge the plant grows at the rate of two inches an hour.  Pictured below is the stripestem bamboo plant.
We only had an hour and a half to cover the garden, and some of that time was spent looking for shelter because of rain.  We would have like to have had more time there as Kanapaha is different than most gardens we have toured.  It has a wide variety of many tropical plants.

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