Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Marie Selby's Little Eden Part 2

The elegant white house in the post below used to be owned by one Christy Payne. It had been his retirement home. Can't be bad. It was later added to the Marie Selby Gardens. I was intrigued by what looked like a collection of orchid flowers floating in jam jars above the fireplace. I had visions of Victorian explorers snagging orchids (along with beetles and such) and sticking them in alcohol to preserve them.

In fact, it was a very modern way of studying the structure of the orchids. Also at the Gardens was a lily pond. The very slim egret is trying to be invisible.

In the background is a tree festooned with ribbons, possibly carrying hopes and wishes. A little new-agey, along with the various exotic deities about the place. I preferred some straightforward  Monet-esque waterlilies.

This is about the nearest they come to a beach but you look at that view and wonder if it's changed over the centuries.

Another bird enjoying the view and possibility of lunch.

Pleasant paths meandered through exotic vegetation.

And I assume this was another epiphyte (see post below).

As was this.

But not this. The paths were still decorated with Christmas lights. It would all look gorgeous at night.

I like these wooden walkways. This led through mangrove swamps. Mangroves, (which sound like something out of Lewis Carroll but actually come from mangue-grove in the English sense) have their roots in salty water and are home to all kinds of wildlife, stop the coast from eroding and are a good place to park your boat in a hurricane. They are being sadly depleted, what with the gallloping waterfront development all over Florida.

This was a gorgeous shrub. Brunfelsia pauciflora. All the way from Brazil. I want one.

And there were a lot of the famous banyan trees with their enormous roots, like gargantuan writhing serpents, great for kids to play among.

 And this was the children's rainforest area - note the steamy mist rising from the waterfall.

 A pond full of overfed goldfish - or koi carp.

A grounded yellow blossom fallen from a tree.

We watched this chap walking out into the bay to fish.

Another timeless scene - apart from the multimillion dollar houses across the way. This is Florida after all.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Surf's Up

On Golden Beach.  

You can hear the surf at night, the mornings are chilly again and someone's getting

a roller-coaster ride

His friend, spotted outside a neighbour's house, has a more leisurely stroll

Time to revisit some warmer memories. More on the Botanical Gardens shortly.....

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Marie Selby's Little Eden

We'd gone past the entrance many times and never actually visited. It's not cheap to get in and you need enough time. But the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, right in urban Sarasota, is one of the must-see places in our area. So we finally picked a day to do it thoroughly. The first exhibit we saw  saw was inside the glass house.

An exquisite orchid display.

I just couldn't get enough of those orchids.

Each one was different. I loved this spotty specimen.

And these were gracefully languid.

The vibrant colours fitting right in with the tropical temperatures.

I couldn't tell you what they were all called. Labelling was something they could do a little better.

But there were plenty of volunteers on hand to explain things. One of them did say that too many labels might detract from the display, so they have to strike a balance. How's this one for an interesting colour?

The Gardens specialise in epiphytes (see the Christmas tree in a post below) - plants that grow on other plants without harming them, getting their nutrition from the air and water (just like that Australian woman who thought she could do the same, without success.) Which goes along with their dainty, aristocratic look. No parasitic chomping for them - that would be vulgar in the extreme.

Here was a very politically-correct ice cream van.

The sign on the side read, "All Natural Gluten Free Low in Sugar Low in Calories Vegan Options." To paraphrase someone else, c'est magnifique mais c'est n'est pas ice cream."
  While on the subject of foodstuffs, this was my first sight of a coffee bush. An arabica with origins in Ethiopia and Yemen.

Marie Selby was one of those typical wealthy Americans who gave her home over to a good cause after her death. This, however, was not her, more unassuming, house but one belonging to a neighbour, who also bequeathed it to extend the Gardens.

The house, built in the 1930s, would have suited me down to the ground.

Especially as it had a beautiful view over Sarasota Bay. But I could console myself with one thing - unlike ours, it's not near the beach.

to be continued.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Big Almost Freeze

Dateline: Venice, Florida

  It just shows how all things are relative.  We are cold here. We are shivering. The heating's come on but it's not enough - I think it still thinks it's air-conditioning. And of course the ducts are in the ceiling, not much use for heat. Heat rises. Duh.  The robot on the Marine Weather Radio is telling people, in nanny state fashion, to put on warm clothes and bring pets indoors. I noticed that a neighbour had thrown sheets over his garden shrubs, something I neglected to do.  Thankfully we missed a frost last night by a few degrees. (The previous owners of our house said it snowed here once). Florida and cold doesn't go together. Everything is geared to shorts and sunshine.
  "At least it's a chance to wear some of my sweaters and scarves", a friend remarked. Others, who, on retiring to Florida full time, had gleefully tossed out their winter woollies as one puts away childish things, are starting to regret it.
  There was a sweet story though, of a dad in Tampa who studied the weather, found out there were going to be a few snowflakes in northern Florida and packed up his kids in the car to drive up there and give them a chance to play in the snow for the first time in their lives.
   But why are we complaining?  When Up North is suffering its worst winter since time immemorial. Erie, Pennsylvania, just down the motorway from our western New York home, had over five feet of snow in a day.
  It's the wind that's really bad", said my Cattaraugus County neighbour on the phone this morning, "We are just hunkering down in the house."
For once I share the view of a certain incumbent of the White House.  Bring on that ol' Global Warming. Bring it on!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

And A Happy 2018

 Well guess what - this was Golden Beach on Christmas Day! 

Complete with a sand-and-shell Christmas tree. (Not one I made earlier - we discovered it.)

Meanwhile we hear that, up north, they're buried in record levels of snow. Somehow I think it was a good decision to spend Christmas in Florida.
Though it does take a little getting used to. This Christmas tree, for example, in the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (on which more shortly) was made entirely of...

...epiphytes - plants that live on other plants.

Rather more bizarre were some of the Christmas displays at people's houses. The trend this year seems to be for projectors - no need to climb trees or get tangled up in cable - you just stick a stick in the ground and it projects lights - swirling or still, probably depending on how many dollars you want to spend. A cop-out, if you ask me. But this house had something different. In amongst the lights was this slightly spooky Santa waving at passers by.

On a more cheerful note, back at the Botanical Gardens and my first sight of what are known as Florida reindeer. Note the antlers. Now what would you put out for them on Christmas Eve? Not carrots, surely. For one thing they would clash terribly, darling.

Happy New Year and see you in 2018!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Very Venice Christmas

Dateline: Venice, Florida

And we're all gearing up...
Gift wrapped doggie bones at the Farmers' market...

Rudolph on your mailbox

A Christmas boat parade on a balmy night, under a big white moon, the crowds picnicking by the intracoastal waterway

Waiting an age for the big drawbridges to rise and the boats to come sailing by at last

 Crowds calling out "Merry Christmas"

And the boat crews calling back

 And this one got the loudest cheer

 There were the big motorboats 

 But also three graceful sailing boats

 The arboretum trees all done up in lights, sponsored by different organisations and families

 People going to look, bumping into each other on the dark paths and laughing

They seem to miss the snow up north

No, please, no!

This display was called "Grandpa's Lake". I wonder what the story was there.

Or here

Around our neighbourhood, gardens done up with glittering palm trees

And my favourites,  piglet Santas

Not as many Nativity scenes as in rural western New York but this was a nice one

And of course, this being Florida and yappy dog heaven, (the dog beach is just down the road) the sleigh is pulled by dachshunds

Meanwhile hubby and I have been back in nursery school, gleefully making a stable out of a cardboard box and palm fronds and sheep from packaging, cotton wool and glue

and trying to get our new Florida Christmas lights to stretch around the fat podocarpus by the front door.

Celebrating in a new place is an adventure.  Happy/Merry Christmas to all our friends on either side of the pond!