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Now in our third calendar year
PCR #95 (Vol.3, No.3) This edition is for the week of January 14--20, 2002.

Will Moriaty La Floridiana by Will Moriaty

Florida's Fabulous Gardens --Part 2

For the Person Who Loves the Lure of the Tropics
Possibly the two finest gardens for the person who loves a tropical allure are Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota and Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables. One is easily a day trip for Bay area residents, while the other is best seen covering almost an entire day and staying overnight in the Miami area is recommended.

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A World of Orchids, Air Plants, and Waterfalls--Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Picturesquely overlooking Sarasota Bay, Marie Selby Gardens is the first botanical garden in the world dedicated to the study, research, and display of orchids, bromeliads, and aroids. The majority of plants in those families does not require much soil, and as a result, can sustain living simply by anchoring themselves in tree limbs. These "air plants" or epiphytes are for the most part not parasites. Orchids produce exquisite blooms, often used for corsages. The Vanilla Orchid, the bloom of which has an incredible fragrance, extracts true vanilla. The most well known bromeliads include the Pineapple, and Spanish Moss. The most common aroid seen in our area is the tropically large-leafed Philodendron.
   The Gardens most impressive display is the Tropical Display House which features waterfalls flanked by the incredibly colorful year around blooms of orchids, aroids, bromeliads, gingers, and other tropical foliage. A Banyan Grove features large fig trees with aerial roots, such as the Banyan, Moreton Bay Fig, Cuban Laurel and Bo Tree. The Hibiscus Garden features dozens of colorful cultivated varieties of this treasured tropical bloomer from China, and the Gardens is rounded out with a Cacti and Succulent Garden, Palm Grove and Cycad Collection, Bamboo Pavillion, and Tropical Food Garden. Not to be missed is the Museum of Botany and the Arts, which exhibits fine oil paintings, photographs, and sculptures of botanical subjects from world famous artisans.
   The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is open from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. daily. It is located at 811 South Palm Avenue in Sarasota, and can be reached by phone at 941-366-5730.

After Visiting the South Beach, see Fairchild Tropical Garden:
Like it or hate it, there is more to see and do in the Miami area than any other part of Florida (and yes, I am even outranking it above Orlando which is pretty much limited to theme parks and some world class city parks). So not surprisingly the finest and most comprehensive botanical garden in the state is Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables.    Established by Colonel Robert Montgomery in the 1930's, this garden spreads over 83 acres and includes the largest collection of palms, cycads, tropical and subtropical plants in the continental United States. The garden was named after Dr. David Fairchild who enjoyed worldwide recognition as a botanist. He created and headed the U.S.D.A. Seed and Plant Introduction Section, and introduced more than 2,000 varieties of trees, fruits, grains, plants, and vegetables into our country. The garden was designed by renowned Harvard educated landscape architect William Lyman Phillips.
   The Montgomery Palmetum (Collection) is the largest of its type in the world boasting 800 of the world's 2,500 species of palms. Notable palms include the Bottle Palm from the Mascarenes which has a bottle shaped trunk, the Coconut Palm of the Old World Tropics, the Date Palm from the Middle East, the African and American Oil Palms which produce an industrial grade oil, the Seychelles Palm which produces the largest seed in the world (45 pounds each), the Porcupine Palm, with formidable needles covered throughout its trunk, and the Talipot Palm from India and Sri Lanka which blooms and bears fruit once in its life then dies.
   The Cycad Collection includes members of this ancient family dating back 225 to 65 million years. Dinosaurs munched on this type of plant! Cycads are palm like in appearance. Better known varieties of cycads include the King Sago from southeast Asia and the native Coontie or Arrowroot, which Florida's Indians made bread from.
   Other gardens include the Rain Forest Exhibit, the Windows to the Tropics Conservatory, the Moos Memorial Sunken Garden that is a sinkhole with a fresh water spring, the Flowering Vine Pergola, the Lynn Fort Lummus Endangered Plant Garden, the McLamore Arboretum, the Migratory Bird Habitat, the Mangrove Preserve, the Chachi House, the Gate House Museum of Plant Exploration, and the South Florida and Bahamian Lowlands.
   A person could spend a week here and still not see all that this world-class garden has to offer. When in Miami, this is a must visit destination! Fairchild Tropical Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables just south of Matheson Hammock Park. It is open 9:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. daily. Phone: 305-667-1651.

These fine gardens in Florida are also recommended:
Maclay State Gardens--Talahassee
Eden State Gardens--Point Washington
Ravine State Gardens--Palatka
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens--Gainesville
University of Central Arboretum--Orlando
Harry P. Leu Gardens--Orlando
Bok Tower Gardens--Lake Wales
Cypress Gardens--Winter Haven
McKee Botanical Gardens--Vero Beach
University of South Florida Botanical Gardens--Tampa
Eureka Springs Park--Tampa
Sunken Gardens--St. Petersburg
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens--Sarasota
Ringling Museum--Sarasota
Ancient Monestary of St. Bernard de Claivaux--North Miami Beach
Fairchild Tropical Garden--Coral Gables
The Kampong--Miami
Venetian Pool--Coral Gables
Redlands Fruit and Spice Park--Homestead
John C. Gifford Arboretum of the University of Miami--Coral Gables
Audubon House--Key West
Ernest Hemingway Home--Key West
West MartelloTower--Key West

A great web site on Florida gardens that can give you more information is http://www.ilovegardens.com/Florida_Gardens/florida_gardens.htm

If you think it gets too hot in Florida, you're right! Next week we'll take at look at a case of spontaneous human combustion when we examine the strange death of Mary Reeser in St. Petersburg back in the 1950's, right here in the NCPCR!

Special addition to "Florida Folk Heroes"
Much to this author's surprise and dismay, the Philip Morris cigarette bellboy known as "Little Johnny" passed away in Tampa at the age of 86. "Little Johnny's" real name was Albert F. Altieri who played the ad role from the 1930's until the 1950's. He is remembered most in the T.V. medium where the 3' 7" man would shout "Last call for Philip Morris!" Altieri retired from Philip Morris in 1982 and had been living in Tampa ever since. In his prime, Albert Altieri was a pop culture icon, and is now added to La Floridiana's list of "Florida Folk Heroes".
"La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova