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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our seventh calendar year
    PCR #323  (Vol. 7, No. 22)  This edition is for the week of May 29--June 4, 2006.

You Must Be This Many Inches Tall...
...To Enter Prison  by Nolan B. Canova
A Botany SuperStar  by William Moriaty
"The Break Up"  by Mike Smith
"X-Men: The Last Stand"....52  by John Lewis
Passing On...My Favorite Films -- Part 22: "Rocky"  by Mike Smith
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A Botany SuperStar

The pop culture aficionado feels that one of their most special and blessed moments is that special and blessed moment when they finally meet their favorite actor, comic book artist, science fiction author or professional sports figure.

The world of botany is much more limited in its super stars and cults of personalities however…

Many of the botanists that people like myself hold in high esteem passed through the portals of this planet a long time ago. We get all giddy and silly when you drop names like Carl Linnaeus, John and William Bartram, Andre Michaux and John Kunkel Small who have long since joined the chorus invisible.

My personal favorite has always been William Bartram. Although I will always respect Carl Linnaeus for being the person who utilized the Bauhin brothers scientific classification system known as binomial nomenclature to its zenith (as well as his incredible contributions to modern taxonomy and modern ecology), Bartram is the botanist that I thank the most for discovering and identifying much of Florida’s incredible flora and fauna first hand.

In a true sense, this early American naturalist is a Florida Folk Hero.

First, a little history
Born four miles west of Philadelphia in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania in 1739, Bartram’s father, John, was a self taught botanist who established one of the first horticultural gardens in the colonies. In 1765 John wrote to William that he had been appointed as the Royal Botanist and was commissioned to explore the new colony of Florida, and wanted William to join him in this expedition.

William Bartram fell in love with Florida’s natural beauty and through his father’s help, established an indigo plantation along the St. Johns River. The plantation turned out to be unsuccessful and Bartram found himself returning to Philadelphia in 1767.

After several more failing attempts at business, William Bartram was commissioned by Dr. John Fothergill in 1772 to explore the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. He was to report what plants he saw, as well as return new and interesting plants and seeds to Dr. Fothergill. Bartram embarked again to Florida in 1773 traveling primarily along the St. Johns River and across the northern portion of the peninsula.

Bartram returned to Kingsessing in January 1777. In 1791, Bartram’s landmark book Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the extensive territories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the country of the Choctaws was published. By this time, however, other botanists, most notably Andre Michaux, were credited for the naming of plants originally discovered by Bartram.

This incredible figure of American history died on July 22, 1823 in the same gardens that his father had established in Kingsessing close to one hundred years earlier.

Possibly Bartram’s most significant discovery was that of the Franklinia alatamaha, a small tree known as the Ben Franklin Tree or the Franklinia, that is a member of the Tea Family. Discovered in the vicinity of the Altamaha River in Georgia, Bartram brought a specimen back to Philadelphia and named it in honor of his good friend Benjamin Franklin. Fortunately the specimen in Philadelphia was reproduced in cultivation, as native specimens, for whatever reasons, were never found there or anywhere else again!

One of his most notable Florida discoveries was that of the Royal Palm, Roystonia elata in present day Lake County. In honor of his memory, I, along with the support of the Payne’s Prairie Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society designed and installed the William Bartram Native Plant Demonstration Gardens at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesvillem Florida between 1988 and 1989. A listing and narrative of the plants used there was published by me in January 1990 and entitled Plants of the William Bartram native plant demonstration gardens (U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Registration Number TXu-400-972).

Moriaty Meets a Ghost (Sort of)
On Friday May 26, 2006, I went to Mead Botanical Gardens in Winter Park, Florida to check up on some East Central Florida Eco-Type Tulip Poplars Liriodendron tulipifera that I had planted there over the years before continuing my journey to Green Images nursery in Christmas, Florida to secure more of the same type of tree for further planting in the Orlando area.

Lo and behold, as I pulled into the Sycamore-flanked driveway to the Gardens, I noticed a freshly-erected historic marker and could barely believe my eyes - - my Florida Botanical Folk Hero, William Bartram, had this plaque bearing his name!

After I surveyed the Poplars I planted, along with a Redbud I donated and planted within sight of the marker, I saw a man dressed in late Eighteenth Century clothes posed next to the marker, with a woman photographing him.

This could only be one man - - William Bartram! I knew what I had to do - - I had to meet the man himself!

Building up my courage I walked toward the dignified gentleman, extended out my right hand and said “Mr. Bartram, my name’s William Moriaty. I planted a garden in your memory up in Gainesville in 1990 and want to let you know what an honor it is to meet you!”

Mr. Bartram was most accommodating, then gave me the news…

“Thanks William, but I’m afraid that I’m not THE William Bartram, I am, however, actor J.D. Sutton, and I will be portraying him the evening of the official dedication of this marker on June 7, 2006 in a play I wrote called William Bartram, Puc Puggy’s Travels in Florida that will be performed at the Winter Park Garden Club building that evening.”

J.D. Sutton was fascinating to talk to. He was born in an Eighteenth Century house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and does his historic re-enactments through the Florida Humanities Council. He received a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre from the Graduate Acting Program at Temple University. As an actor he has enjoyed a professional career ranging from regional theater to cabaret and dinner theater productions. His wife Amy is a costume designer for the Disney theme parks.

It goes without saying that I intend to attend Mr. Sutton’s performance of my botanical superstar, and here is a bit more information on Mr. Sutton and this June 7, 2006 event!


An outstanding, historic Bartram Trail Marker will be dedicated in Mead Botanical Gardens, Winter Park's unique natural park and environmental retreat, on Wednesday, June 7 at 5:30 pm. The Winter Park Garden Club, headquartered in Mead Garden, is honoring American botanist William Bartram's remarkable exploration of East Florida in 1774. The elegant marker, the 24th in Florida, tells a brief story of his journey.

America honors the remarkable Bartrams, father John and son William, as the first and second world renowned, native born, natural botanists. The famous Bartram marker program exists in the eight southern states where William explored, botanized, and became friends with Indians, 1773-77. Covering 2,400 miles, he spent most of his time in Florida. Later, his scientific and artistic book, "Travels.." became famous, and introduced Europeans to beautiful, natural Florida.

Following the dedication ceremony, guests are invited to the Winter Park Garden Club to a reception and a presentation of actor J.D. Sutton's lively interpretation of William Bartram. Calling the Winter Park Garden Club at (407) 644-5770 can make reservations.


Puc Puggy’s Travels in Florida

Written and Performed by

Directed by
Artistic Director, Cape May Stage

Costume by

Time: May, 1797

Place: The horticultural gardens of John Bartram, on the western bank of the Schuylkill River in Kingsessing, four miles southwest from Philadelphia, the capital of the United States. _________________________________________________________________________________

The taking of photographs and the use of audio or video recording devices is strictly prohibited. As a courtesy to others, please set cell phones to “vibrate.”

Mr. Sutton is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild of America, and is appearing through the cooperation of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors.

This presentation is made possible by the Florida Humanities Council. For more information, call 727-873-2000 or visit www.flahum.org.

The Florida Native Plant Society is dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. Membership in FNPS is an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in native plants and their cultivation. For more information, call 561-562-1598, or visit www.fnps.org.

This presentation was developed through the invaluable assistance generously provided by the staff of Philadelphia’s historic Bartram’s Garden, with special thanks to its Curator, Joel T. Fry For more information, call 215-729-5281 or visit www.bartramsgarden.org.

For more information on William Bartram’s travels throughout the southeast, we encourage you to visit http://www.bartramtrail.org/, the site of the Bartram’s Trail Conference.


J.D. SUTTON was raised in the historic Germantown section of Philadelphia, graduating from Temple University with a B.A. in English, and an M.F.A. in Theatre from the Graduate Acting Program.

As an actor he has enjoyed a professional career ranging from regional theatre to cabaret and dinner theatre productions, and rÙles ranging from “Sidney Bruhl” in Deathtrap (which he has also directed) to “Victor” in Noel Coward’s Private Lives and Jerry/Daphne in Sugar!, the musical version of Some Like It Hot. Favorite parts include “Angus” in The Drawer Boy, “Don Quixote” in Man of La Mancha, “Scrooge” in A Christmas Carol, and the title rÙle in Sherlock Holmes.

Mr. Sutton has appeared with the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival as “Hastings” in Richard III, as “Justice Shallow” in The Merry Wives of Windsor, as “Antonio” in Much Ado About Nothing, and doubled as both “Marley” and “Cratchit” in the world-premiere production of Mark Brown’s The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge.

He has also worked throughout Florida on a variety of television projects, including seaQuest DSV, Jack Scalia’s Pointman, Tom Hanks’ HBO series From the Earth to the Moon, and Nickelodeon’s The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. He appeared in the title rÙle of the independent film Farmer McAllister’s Thinkin’ Machine, which won the award for “Best Comic Short Film” at the 2001 Atlantic City Film Festival.

In addition, he has appeared in a variety of industrial training films for several major corporations and trade groups.

Mr. Sutton’s full-length play, Twilight at Monticello: An Evening with Thomas Jefferson, has been presented off-Broadway at New York’s Abingdon Theatre Company, as well as numerous venues throughout the country, including Philadelphia’s historic Carpenters’ Hall. His half-hour A Brief Encounter with Thomas Jefferson was selected by the Florida Humanities Council for its 30th anniversary Chautauqua tour of eight communities around the state.

Mr. Sutton and his wife, Amy (who is also the play’s costumer) share their Central Florida home with their “furry children,” all of which are rescued.

"La Floridiana" is ©2006 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 ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.