Miniature Garden (o.k., Fairy Garden too)

My wife and her sisters wanted to give another sister a special gift for her birthday. They started with this aqua colored ceramic ball and we got creative around it. Thanks to Driftwood Garden Center in Estero, FL for the fairy garden inspiration. Thanks also to Sundance Orchids and Bromeliads in Ft. Myers, FL for having such a huge collection of bromeliads to choose from.

Click on a photo for a better enlargement.

FNGLA Annual Convention, June 20, 21, 2014

How I spent the first day of summer: at FNGLA’s annual convention. Robert Olinger, his wife Mary and I enjoyed two days of activities at the Marriott Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach (north of St. Augustine, south-east of Jacksonville, Florida). The first business meeting went smoothly with our organization ending the year with a surplus. Robert (our new State Representative) will be meeting with the board next month to decide on spending decisions and direction.
After the meeting we toured the Jacksonville Zoo and Botanical Gardens. That evening the Frontrunners Chapter opened their hospitality suite, stocked with plenty of food and drinks.
The next day we enjoyed applauding the winners of FNGLA’s awards. There we gave our annual donation to FNGLA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) and to the University of Florida Research Endowment Fund.
That evening concluded with the President’s Gala reception and banquet.

Finished project.

Garden Bench

Thanks to FNGLA for the inspiration. During our annual meeting last month we toured the Jacksonville Zoo/Botanical Garden. In the butterfly exhibit they had two rustic benches made from local Pecky Cypress. I tracked down the sawmill, just two miles from the garden and bought a mixed stack of pure cypress. Thanks also to Mario, owner of ABC Tree Service, Fort Myers for some of the other interesting woods like Live Oak and Java Plum.

Jacksonville Zoo Botanical Garden

Every year I look through the pile of colorful seed catalogs and order new vegetables for our garden. My wife also looks through the flower sections and points out plants she would like me to grow. Then I discourage her with wise comments like “No, that’s a zone 5 plant. No that’s a biennial. Oops, wrong time of the year.”

This year I apologized for putting on the brakes and gave her free reign. With glee, she picked plants I would never have considered growing. When the fat envelope came in the mail I was surprised by 10,000 seeds! If you know seeds, that’s not pounds but ounces but still one seed  grows one plant. I planted a representative from each packet…and we have the most colorful back yard we have ever had.

Here are a few vases of flowers cut from our jungle.

White Ami majus and pink snap dragons.

White Ammi magus and pink snap dragons.

Love in a Mist (niegela)

Love in a Mist (Nigella)

Ami, cosmos, niegela

Ammi, cosmos, nigella


Clerodendrum ‘Light Bulbs’ and African iris.

Collier County Agriculture Tour

Oakes Farms: kale and Swiss chard, organically grown.

Oakes Farms: kale and Swiss chard, organically grown.

Yellow bell peppers at Oakes Farms.

Yellow bell peppers at Oakes Farms.

Lunch at ITEC in Immokalee, served by their culinary class.

Lunch at ITEC in Immokalee, served by their culinary class.

American Farms, Naples

Far right: Alex Salazar (grower and co-owner) of American Farms, Naples describes how they grow 77 acres of bedding plants.

Four busloads of people spent a day looking “beyond the beaches” in Collier County on Wednesday, March 19. After American Farms we went to Oakes Farms, an organic vegetable and fish producer, Lipman Company, the largest tomato packing plant in Immokalee, Silver Strand citrus groves and the farmers market.