An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 3, 2015

Another Roadside Attraction

     My wife, my brother, and I spent much of New Year's Day at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida. The Wray family started Flamingo Gardens as a citrus farm back in the 1920's on a live oak hammock surrounded by land reclaimed from the Everglades. At one time there were over 2000 acres planted in various types of citrus, including a 20 acre citrus laboratory. Intrigued by other tropical plants, the Wrays amassed quite a collection of fruit-bearing and ornamental trees and shrubs. They began offering tours, and soon the place became one of south Florida's first tourist attractions. Today, Flamingo Gardens has Florida's largest concentration of state champion trees, including the largest tree in the state. Surrounded by all this flora, and the flamingos that were already here, is a sanctuary for native Florida wildlife, that includes panthers, otters, black bears, and a host of reptiles and birds. All of the animals in the sanctuary are either rescues and/or are unable to be released back into the wild. Part of Flamingo Garden's charm is its vintage roadside vibe, but between the birds, the other animals, and the gardens, I'd say it's worth the price of admission, especially considering their overall mission and the fact they are non-profit.

Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo (3)

Flamingo (1)

Flamingo (2)

Monstera deliciosa (2)

Monstera deliciosa (1)

Monstera deliciosa

Aechmea gamosepala (Matchstick Plant) (1)

Aechmea gamosepala (Matchstick Plant) (2)

Sterculia apetala (Panama Tree)

Odontonema (Firespike) (2)

Palm Light

Perched

Etlingera elatior (Torch Ginger)

Codiaeum (Croton Hedge) (1)

Ficus (Strangler Fig) (2)

White Pelican

     If you visit Flamingo Gardens, don't expect to see many citrus trees; they only have a handful left. Most of the former groves are now housing developments, and trees across the state are being devastated by disease. In fact, the whole industry is in serious peril. The current threat is citrus greening, before that it was citrus canker. It got to a point several years ago that state agriculture crews would roam neighborhoods removing all healthy citrus trees withing 1900' of a diseased one. Over 600,000 trees were removed from private property without compensation. Gardeners, can you imagine, and can you imagine the Sunshine State without oranges?


25 comments:

  1. I can almost feel the lush humidity in your photos. Can you imagine Virginia removing all crape myrtles or dogwoods from private property within 1900 feet of a diseased one?
    Ray

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    1. I know, right? I think I would put up a fight.

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    2. Such was the power of the orchard industry (in which Byrd was a wheel) that the Virginia legislature passed a law in 1914 that allowed removal of any eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana) within two miles of an apple orchard. It was funded by a special tax on orchards, used to pay the workers who cut down the cedars, not to compensate those on whose property the cedars were growing. [In practice, there was sometimes some compensation, but the principle that the law need not require any was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1928.]

      A good discussion of the background is here: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~wfischel/Papers/cedar%20rust%20Fischel%2028apr04.pdf

      I'd be prepared to defend my dogwoods. Crape myrtles? Meh.

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    3. I had no idea Nell this went on in Virginia. Apparently they were not successful, as the state is thick with cedars. Thank you!

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  2. Fantastic photos, and a terrible what if.

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  3. I'm heading to Florida in a little over a week. Can't wait! The colors are so vibrant with those plants. Love the Matchstick Plant! No, I can't imagine Florida without Oranges. This is worrisome.

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    1. I hope you have a great trip, Beth. Take pictures!

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  4. Oh what a lovely place Les. I would love to visit it. Actually I'd love to visit anywhere warm about now. Contact me if you win the lottery -- OK ?

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    1. You can't win if you don't play.

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  5. Beautiful photographs, and such gorgeous plants. They keep flamingos here at the Lincoln Park zoo but of course they are taken inside during the winter.

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    1. I am sure the flamingos appreciate the shelter, Jason.

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  6. Those pink/blue pods are dazzling. This is how we think of flamingoes in Madison:

    http://www.surroundedbyreality.com/uw/other/presidents/pinkf.asp

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    1. That was quite the flock of birds. There was once a local company that would deliver a flock to any address in the middle of the night. When the recipient awoke they would be waiting there, but gone the next night. You could also rent a flock of plastic crows or penguins as well.

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  7. Is it just my computer screen or are these flamingoes flaming orange?
    Since I love the color orange in the garden, I wouldn't mind a few of them gracefully roaming around mine. Great photos.

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    1. Yes, they were indeed orange, a color I also love.

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  8. I like seeing the flamingos - such a cool but odd looking bird. Are they not pink, here they look orange? My fave is the pelican though.

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    1. Donna, it could be their diet, but they were definitely orange. I am also fond of pelicans. We have only brown ones here, but they are very entertaining to watch.

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  9. I had the same thought as the posters above, those flamingos are ORANGE. Must be their diet.

    Wonderful that this place is now a wildlife sanctuary.

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    1. Yes it is nice that it is a wildlife sanctuary. When we first entered I thought it was part zoo, part garden. I felt much better when we left.

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  10. Love your pictures! Orange flamingos? The plastic one that lives in my backyard is pink.

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  11. My predecessor at work, painted the pink plastic ones blue, and put them all around the garden.

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  12. I cannot imagine Florida without citrus. I had no idea the industry was in peril. I could not imagine people removing healthy trees from my yard just to stop the possible spread of disease. It seems very unfair. I have never heard of Flamingo Gardens but will look for it the next time I head to Florida. Inquiring minds want to know what the Florida state champion tree is.

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  13. Well, this is the first time I've ever actually wanted to visit Florida. It must be your photos.

    Citrus is threatened here also, due to the Citrus greening disease, but the drought seems to have slowed down the pest. Or maybe I'm just wishfully thinking it has. Now I'll go outside and pick a couple of oranges and enjoy them while I can.

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  14. I visited the website after seeing your marvelous photographs. What a place! Botanical gardens, wildlife sanctuary, museum, restaurants, wedding venue, Bonsai workshops, and much more on 60 acres! And, I agree, it still maintains a vintage old Florida vibe.

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