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Seeking rare butterflies in the Keys

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My respect for butterfly conservationists just shot up a thousand percent -- especially those who identify and photograph these aerial jewels. Tuesday, I tagged along as Jaret Daniels led a group of butterfly conservationists to Bahia Honda State Park and the National Key Deer Refuge in the Florida Keys. They were searching for the state-listed endangered Miami Blue butterfly as well as Bartram's hairstreak and the Florida leafwing, two candidates for federal listing. Armed with his...

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With orchids galore, it's a splendid festival

Friday, March 12, 2010

A cart of orchids about to go homewith Giovanna Abreu and EdithLaRiva. Neighbors Giovanna Abreu and Edith LaRiva drove in from Doral and were bargaining hard Friday afternoon at Fairchild's 8th International Orchid Festival. "We come every year; we wait for it,'' Giovanna said. Sissy Scott drove from Orlando and sat with a full cart of orchids in the early afternoon with her friend Lori Godinez. "I'm just starting out,'' Sissy said. "I have...

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If these mountains could talk...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

JAMAICA. An inspiring day it was - to say the least. We were really far off the beaten track, way past the "end of the road." The "road" in this case was an old bridle road that had been completely overgrown and was now dominated by full-grown trees and shrubs. Odontocline sp. was frequently encountered climbing all over the plants around us, bringing sunny bursts of its bright yellow flower clusters into view all around. Botanist and plant lover that I am, I must...

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Lettuce now praise the raised bed garden

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

As I watched cold batter my landscape, the one part of the garden that seemed to thrive in January and February was the vegetable garden. Beautiful broccoli. One broccoli plant measures an astounding 44 inches tall. The large head of unopened flowers sits 32 inches above the soil in our raised bed garden. We've already harvested one large head, and use the subsequent small side shoots in salads. Weird looking, this kohlrabi is acabbage relative. A tiny cauliflower is forming on our single...

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Aflame in late winter

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The flame vine puts on a show. Late winter bloomers always are welcome, especially this winter when we seem to be stuck in cold. Flowering in the south parking lot is the red kapok or red silk cotton tree, Bombax ceiba, while the vine pergola is displaying a gorgeous coating of orange, thanks to the flame vine, Pyrostegia venusta. Just the sight of these brilliantly colored flowers will lift your winter spirits. The silk cotton is a large tree that needs room to grow: it can Big, waxy ...

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Discovering secrets in plain sight on a walking tour

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One of the best experiences at the garden is a walking tour. I checked out two tours recently and discovered things about the garden and its plants that I never knew. Walking tours are lead by well-informed volunteers and inevitably launch friendly exchanges among participants. Tours don't cover the entire 83 acres, but are confined to two areas easily covered in 45 minutes: the palm and tropical fruit area of the garden, and the arboretum, vine pergola and spiny forest displays. This...

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A more natural way to grow orchids?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Harry Phillips, who with his brother Andy operates Andy's Orchids in Encinitas, Ca., made a strong case for growing epiphytic orchids mounted on hard wood when he spoke at the Orchid Society of Coral Gables this week: it's easier to water; roots grow longer; plants grow best when in situations that imitate nature. Orchid roots exposed on mounts benefit from good air circulation. The only orchid that doesn't like good air movement around roots is the ghost orchid, he said. It...

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Plants and People: An Interactive Garden

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Between drizzle and downpour, a magical thing happened this week in the garden. Plants and People did indeed connect and interact during the luncheon and tram tour for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers. The program is new to the garden this year, initiated by trustee Lin Lougheed after he witnessed a similar program at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. During a boxed lunch in the Visitors Center, everyone worried about the rain, and a slide show stood at the ready. But just at...

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