Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Florida 2005

Strangler fig, Naples, January 2005

It's hard to believe I've been vacationing in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for 10 years.  In 2005, Dan and I decided to spend a day there before traveling to Sarasota, where I was scheduled to give a talk at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  I hadn't been to Florida since I was a kid, and never to south Florida at all, so I arranged a whirlwind tour that started in Ft. Lauderdale, stopping in South Beach on our way to a tour of Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Miami, driving across the state to visit my parents and aunt in Naples, up to Sarasota and Selby, then back to Naples for more family time and finally flying out of Ft. Myers, all in the space of 5 days.  In retrospect it was insane, but we enjoyed that trip immensely.  Here are a few more photos from that trip (although oddly enough, I have none from Ft. Lauderdale!).

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

Copernicia sp
Copernicia sp., Fairchild

Dan at Fairchild

Aside from turning us on to Florida, that trip was a revelation in that I discovered that Dan actually likes plants, as long as they're big and tropical (and as long as I don't keep telling him all their names)!  I think our visit to Fairchild was the first time he actually enjoyed a tour of a botanical garden.  Every year since then I've dragged him to some garden or nursery in Florida, and for the most part he humors me as long as we get to do a few other things as well!

Solandra maxima
Solandra maxima

Another revelation at Fairchild was the use of seemannias as bedding plants.  Seemannia (formerly Gloxinia) sylvatica is vigorous, almost weedy, in south Florida and provides brilliant color in the winter.  I was amazed to see this species planted in full sun.  I always considered these shade plants but I've since learned that most of the species and hybrids of this genus do well with at least some direct sun.

Seemannia sylvatica with elephant ears
Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic' with Seemannia sylvatica

Seemannia sylvatica
Seemannia sylvatica

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Aroid, Selby

Calathea sp., Selby


Hoya view 2
Hoya sp. at Selby, the largest flowers I have ever seen on this genus

Huperzia sp., an epiphytic lycopod at Selby

Begonia sp 1
Epiphytic begonia at Selby

In going through these photos, one thing I've noticed is that my more recent photos are generally better, although not necessarily because I've become a better photographer!  I take a lot more photos now, and can afford to be more selective.  I've also discovered a great easy-to-use photo editing program, IrfanView, which I use to edit my photos for brightness, contrast, and color balance.  I crop them a lot more often, and frequently use the "sharpen" function as well.  For my purposes--strictly web presentation for now!--this has served me well.  But I'm still using my ancient (practically prehistoric) Nikon Coolpix 995 digital camera and I'm overdue for a major upgrade!

Sarasota sunset
Sarasota sunset

Naples Pier
Naples Pier

DSCN4422Naples Pier

Crow, Naples Pier

We spent our last day in Naples, visiting with my parents and aunt before flying out of Ft. Myers.  My aunt took us to the Naples Pier, where she took our photo with the strangler fig photo, but what impressed me most about Naples was the big, beautiful, and very, very expensive homes near the beach.

Homes near Naples Pier

Since 2005, I've seen lots of strangler figs all over south Florida.  There are several naturalized species but at least one of them (Ficus aurea) is native.  One of the introduced species is banyan (Ficus benghalensis), a native of India, and on our latest trip we saw a large specimen at The Kampong in Coconut Grove.  If I've learned anything, it's to never turn your back on a strangler fig!  More about my latest trip to Florida in the next blog post!

Never turn your back on a strangler fig
Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), The Kampong, Coconut Grove, February 2015


  1. Haha the last pics good fun! Would you guys consider moving to Florida later on? We ought to visit, it's just a quick hop across the Atlantic....

    1. No, I don't think we'll ever live there year-round. From what I hear, the summers are brutal, and I really don't like heat and humidity! If you do plan a visit, I can recommend some interesting places to check out--I'm planning another blog post about some of the things we've done and places we've visited down there over the years.

  2. Wonderful! Thanks for 'taking us along.'

  3. That Copernicia may yet rival Bismarckia as my favorite palm.

    1. They were surely big and beautiful! I'd like to go back to Fairchild again, hard to believe it's been 10 years...