Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gardens at Koreshan State Park

Pictured above is the camel's foot orchid tree, one of many exotic plants which can be found on the grounds of the park.  The orchid tree is more commonly found in southern China.  Dr. Teed corresponded with other horticulturists, exchanging seeds and plants.  I discovered in the park the same plants which I saw on the grounds of Thomas Edison's winter home.  A park ranger told me, however, that all that is known is that Edison shared only his bamboo cuttings with the Koreshans.  Edison had bamboo because he used the plant for the filaments of his light bulbs.  Unfortunately it grows quite rapidly and in the park it took over the orchard which the community planted and now there is only one citrus tree left. 
Fortunately the park has labeled many of the plants.  Pictured above is a screw pine which is located below a ghost eucalyptus tree.  In the planter is a blooming crown of thorns.  Besides growing fruit, nut and vegetable gardens the Koreshans also developed gardens for purely aesthetic purposes and grew a system of formal gardens which were laid out in patterns of applied geometry.  Trellises, gazebos, benches, and various ornamental fountains and urns also dotted the landscape of the community, some of which can be seen in the park today.  While touring the gardens I walked over a Victorian-styled foot bridge and found one of the monkey puzzle trees which the Koreshans planted on a small island.  The tree is native to Chile.
It is the tree in the center of the picture above with spiraling and splaying branches.  The evergreen has stiff and sharp leaves or needles.  Upon further research later, at home, I learned that the tree is related to the Norfolk pine.  I tried growing that tree in the past and was always frustrated because the branches would not grow symmetrically-  in reality it was only growing the way nature intended it to grow!
John took a different route through the park than I did and saw a gopher tortoise on its way down into his burrow.  This creature is common to Florida, but for some reason we still had not, until today, seen any on our hikes through the parks and preserves of the state.  The tortoise builds burrows fifteen feet long and six feet deep, and in the wild can live from 40 to 60 years. 
I will conclude this posting with a picture of the Estero River.  The river was a main means of transportation for the Koreshans, and the bamboo landing was necessary for passengers and freight. The landing was also used for concerts by the community until the building of Art Hall was completed.

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