PCR past banners
La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fourth calendar year
    PCR #181  (Vol. 4, No. 37)  This edition is for the week of September 8--14, 2003.

Florida's Gardens Up Front and Personal -- Part Two
by Will Moriaty
"Matchstick Men"
by Mike Smith
Update on Sci-Fi Hunks and Babes....Whoops, It's Whoopi!....Happy Family
 by Vinnie Blesi
Notable Passings and Child Stars
 by Ashley Lauren
Freddy vs Jason....Monsturd....JLA/ Avengers #1....the last "Pillars"?
 by John Lewis
Not Yet....Save Me A Spot In The Dandelion Patch....Monkey See, Monkey Do....Cutting Out The Middle Man....Happy Birthday....Top 10 '60s Albums....Send Lawyers, Guns And Money
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR

Florida's Gardens Up Front and Personal -- Part Two In Part Two, we will visit gardens that were the launching pad to T.R.E.E. Inc. and my own marriage. We will start with the University of South Florida's Botanical Gardens in Tampa, and wind our way down to the exquisite and world class Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables.

Central West
University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, Tampa: I first visited this facility with my sister in July 1973, back in the days when botanical guru Dr. Derek Burch (http://www.aroid.org/aroiders/burch.html) got it off the ground and running. This would also be where my own career in vegetation management and arboriculture would get off the ground and running after meeting grounds keeper Bob Scheible in the summer of 1976. Bob would end up being a Founding Member and Vice President of my non-profit tree planting organization Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc. (or T.R.E.E. Inc. at http://www.tree-inc.org/) in 1983, a position he holds to this day.

I had offered the Botanical Gardens thirteen bare root Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) seedlings in celebration of that year's Bi-Centennial celebration. The Tulip Poplar was chosen as it was ballyhooed at that time as the type of tree that founding father George Washington planted in 1785 at his Mount Vernon, Virginia estate. Seedlings from this very same tree were grown and sent nationwide as part of the historic anniversary of our Great Nation's birth. Although my donation was not from that collection, seedlings from that same living tree can be ordered through American Forests Famous and Historic Trees (http://www.historictrees.org/).

Between the years 1976 and 1982, I had donated over 200 species of plants, primarily temperate in origin, to the U.S.F. Botanical Gardens. Those donations, which have survived, include Kapok (Ceiba pentendra) trees which I grew from seed from the Dr. Edwin Menninger collection (http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/herbarium/bib/bibcult.htm); bare root seedlings of Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata), Bradford Pear (Pyrus x calleryana), Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), ginkgo (G. biloba), and Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). These were purchased and donated between 1976 and 1977 (the Ginkgo even "lived" with me in Jacksonville for a short while) and shade the Temperate Plot of the Gardens grounds. My personal favorite survivors are the two large Pignut Hickories (Carya glabra) that Bob Scheible raised from nuts that I gathered with Denis Lebrun and Greg Van Stavern from Phillipe Park in Pinellas County in the fall of 1976.

The University of South Florida Botanical Gardens is the Bay area's finest and most diverse botanical gardens. It also has dynamite Fall and Spring Plant sales (the Fall Plant Sale will be on October 11th and 12th - - check out their web site for more information) with sales of fruit trees, native plants, aroids, palms, tropical fruits, herbs, bromeliads, ferns, and a host of hard to get plants at reasonable prices. For more information on the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, link to: http://www.cas.usf.edu/garden/index.htm

Eureka Springs Garden, Tampa, Florida: First visited in June 1976 with Greg Van Stavern at Bob Scheible's advisory, this park and its locale was in many ways the physical birthplace of T.R.E.E. Inc. (although the name was conceived on a grease stained napkin at the Mexican Burro on a December night in 1982).

Originally the park was a part of land belonging to Albert Greenburg, a former chemical salesman who was born in Russia and whose family migrated to Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Greenburg was a wonderful and generous man who allowed me, Bob Scheible, Greg Van Stavern, and Greg Howe, to grow trees for our reforesting projects on his land, which is next door to the park. As a young man he traveled to Florida and stumbled upon this area, which was home to many springs before the Tampa By Pass Canal was built in the mid 1970's. as he had a vision as a young boy of discovering a tropical oasis, he named the area he would later purchase "Eureka ("I have found it!") Springs".

Mr. Greenburg was in many ways the father of the aquaculture industry (tropical fish farming, aquatic plants for aquariums) in the United States. Did you know that tropical fish are the leading type of cargo loaded onto to aircraft departing Tampa International Airport? Mr. Greenburg deserves many thanks from this flourishing industry, even beyond his death in 1993. There is, however, a variety of water lily named in his honor (http://www.growit.com/plants/growers/SN/12083.htm).

Mr. Greenburg donated about 12 acres of his property to Hillsborough County in 1967 to be used as a botanical park, of which it is one of the finest of its type in West Central Florida. This is due in large part to Bob Scheible, who left U.S.F.'s Botanical Gardens in 1980, who assisted with the development of the park until he left there in 1986 to work for the City of Tampa Parks Department. Bob currently works as Chief Horticulturist for the Lowry Park Zoo (http://www.lowryparkzoo.com/) in Tampa.

My own donations include the Saucer Magnolia (M. x soulangiana), "Hopa" Flowering Crab (Malus x "Hopa") , and "Thundercloud" Purple Leaf Plum (Prunus cerisifera var. "atropurpurea") that flank the west side of the facility's parking area. Next-door of course is our T.R.E.E. Inc. nursery from which tens of thousands of trees have been grown for over two decades to be used in public plantings in the Bay area and beyond.

If you need some peace, quiet and beauty in your life, take a day to visit Eureka Springs Park in Hillsborough County.

For more information on Eureka Springs Garden, link to: http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/cgi-bin/mqcustomconnect?streetaddress=6400+Eureka+Springs+Road&city=Tampa&state=FL&zip=33610

Marie Selby Gardens, Sarasota: Possibly the most magical moment of my life was walking through the incredibly colorful tropical Display House at the Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota on June 15, 1984 on my first date with Karen Cashon, who would become my bride four years later.

Karen and I started our first date at the Salvador Dali Museum (http://www.salvadordalimuseum.org/) in St. Petersburg, crossed my beloved Sunshine Skyway Bridge in her 1965 ruby red VW Beetle nicknamed "Ruby". We then headed to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (http://www.ringling.org/) in Sarasota, followed by Marie Selby's, followed by dinner at the now-defunct 105TH Bomb Squadron at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport, and capped the evening off at a laser light show of the Alan Parsons Project at the Bishop Planetarium (now the Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium at the Bishop Museum, link to http://www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium/) in Bradenton.

Marie Selby is the Bay area's truly first taste of the tropics, and is an unparalleled gem in this area, particularly for its emphasis on bromeliads, gesneriads and orchids. While there, visit the Hibiscus Garden, the Banyan grove, the Cycad Collection, the Palm Grove, and my favorite, outside of the breathtaking Tropical Display House, the bay walk sanctuary overlooking tropical and beautiful Sarasota Bay. For more information on Marie Selby Gardens, link to: http://www.selby.org/

Fairchild Tropical Garden, Coral Gables: Of all of the botanical gardens I have ever been to, this is absolutely the finest. Located just south of Miami not far from Biscayne Bay, I first visited this exemplary Garden with Greg Van Stavern in July 1982. I was immediately awed by the immense palm collection known as the Montgomery Palmetum, Some of the palms have fronds as long as thirty feet in length, making you feel like you are in the land of the giants. This truly contains the largest and best collection of palms in the world.

The Moos Memorial Sunken Garden is a sinkhole flanked with gigantic Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) trees and a waterfall, which was filled with crayfish on my first visit. There is also a Rain Forest Exhibit, and host of almost innumerable exhibits. But my absolute favorite garden is the Mangrove Preserve and Bahamas Plant Collection, which is a lowland area on the Garden's eastern fringes. On a clear sunny day the intensity of the electric blue skies over neighboring Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is intoxicating, and this Florida Boy is totally at home dodging the Fiddler Crabs and Green Iguanas who roam the tangled thickets and waters while Fine Air and TAMPA Colombia DC-8's wing their way overhead returning from journeys to neighboring Central and South America and the Caribbean. If to me there was ever a paradise on earth, this is it.

If in the Miami area, you owe it to yourself to visit Fairchild Tropical Garden. For more information on Fairchild Tropical Garden, link to: http://www.fairchildgarden.org/

Other Gardens I Have Visited In Florida

Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales: First visited in 1977, what finer postcard on the planet is there outside of the "singing" carillon at Bok Tower Gardens? http://www.boktower.org/

Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven: First visited in 1976, this remnant of the "Old South" Florida garden closed its doors this past winter.

Mead Botanical Gardens and Kraft Azalea Gardens, Winter Park: Mead was first visited with my sister and photographer friend Anna Tomczak of Lake Helen in 1978. I have since donated numerous trees to both of these fine City of Winter Park parks.

Central East
Botanical Gardens at the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne: First visited with Greg Howe in December 2001 during John Blechschmidt's graduation.

Cental West
Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay: First visited in September 1986 with Karen Cashon, Lisa Clardy and Cindy Lewis.

Florida Botanical Gardens, Largo: First visited in February 2002. http://www.flbg.org/

Collier-Seminole State Park, Naples: First visited in July 1982 with Greg Van Stavern, this is where salt and fresh water and temperate and tropical Florida converge! If you can stand the abundant summer mosquitoes you will see temperate Red Maples (Acer rubrum) naturally intermingle with tropical Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simauruba), as well as the original equipment used to build the Tamiami Trail. http://www.floridastateparks.org/collier-seminole/default.asp

Butterfly World, Coconut Creek: First visited in July 1995 with Karen Cashon, Susan Hughes and Darcy Rodgers. Unbeatable for the butterfly enthusiast. http://www.butterflyworld.com/

I believe that our spiritual and physical well-being depends upon its connection with the garden. Take the time to visit many of these wonderful collections of botany that offer incredible beauty and shelter from the hectic demands that our society places upon us. Other fine web sites encapsulating many of these fine gardens include FloridaGardener.com (http://www.floridagardener.com/FLGardens/) and I Love Gardens. Com (http://www.ilovegardens.com/Florida_Gardens/florida_gardens.htm).

And of course many thanks are owed to what spawned this two-part article, the finest publication on Florida's gardens, "Guide to the Gardens of Florida" by Lilly Pinkas, photography by Joseph Pinkas, 188 pages, 1998 by Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Florida. Before visiting any of these great gardens, buy this fine book first for the most comprehensive overview available on them.

Next week: "Will's excellent Water Adventure in Winter Park!" All in next week's "La Floridiana" here in PCR!

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.