Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Everglades Wonder Gardens

We probably would not have seen this place were it not for an article on it in the local paper.  The gardens, located in Bonita Springs Florida,  made the news because it is up for sale.  They have been a focal point for the town since 1936 when it was created as a facility to rehabilitate injured animals.  Today the gardens focuses on botanical plants and trees as well as native animal species.  In the visitors center we were first treated to the wonderful photographic art of John Brady.  We enjoy his art because the pictures were taken at many of the sights of Florida which we have been enjoying the past two months;  areas as the Keys, Naples pier, and cypress gardens- to name but a few.
It would be a shame should this place fall into the hands of developers, unless they planned to spare the exotic plants and trees which have been here since its beginning and now are quite tall.  One example is the candlenut tree, the official state tree of Hawaii which can grow to 80 feet and now has gained some height.  Another tropical tree is the canistel tree from Mexico which currently has fruit hanging from its branches.  An interpretive sign on it claims that the fruit is sweet and has the texture of cooked egg yolk.
We took a short trail through an orchid garden- only one blooming now, this place does seem to need the intervention of a gardener. However, the bromeliad garden currently has some beautiful flowers in bloom.
The gardens do have quite a collection of tropical birds, primarily parrots.  One was quite talkative in the visitor's center.  Some of them were rescued Amazon parrots who came from the Bird Gardens of Naples.
The gardens also has a number of small ponds in which can be found a variety of ducks, and flamingos- other birds also come in from the outside. And in the ponds can be found alligators as well as turtles.  There are also a few caged animals as tortoises and iguanas in the gardens.
Iguanas are ugly as well as a bit scarey, however looking at this one close-up I was a bit fascinated about some of the creature's anatomical features.  The orange skin flap hanging from his neck is a dewlap.  It can become quite enlarged when the iguana becomes frightened by a predator, making him seem bigger than he really is.  Also on the side of his face is a large parietal eye which the iguana uses to watch for overhead predators by sensing light and dark.  Unfortunately the iguana is an invasive species in Florida.
I could see a lot of potential for these gardens, and wish them the best of luck in finding a buyer!

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