Do you ever tour a house that is under construction? You know, you walk thru the studded walls and see where the tub is and look at the rest of the plumbing - "here's the master bath" - or "look at the view where these windows are going!"
Touring the newly opened Botanical Garden in Naples, Florida is a lot like that. Open less than three months, it is easy to see the potential and it's very pleasing in its current state. The bones are great and some parts are already spectacular.
In a very smart move, they have put the children's garden at the front of the garden. You enter thru that tunnel of sawpalms into a fun and interesting area with a tree house, silly gardens, a butterfly house, waterfall and a winding path that takes one thru areas that represent both geological history and the various environments of Florida. [A little learning stuck in with the fun.]
The path winds thru little gardens and ends at this little "cracker" house, which represents the one-room homes of the early 1900's. In January all the blooms happened to be pink and lavender - to match the paint job! It was charming. Behind the house is a garden full of everyday items used as planters - wading boots, a toilet, a sewing machine and all manner of yard junque. All sure to engage and please the younger set, and in many ways this is already the most "finished" part of the entire project. A smart way to draw the younger set, who will bring their children and stay to enjoy the rest of the garden.
The "big" areas right now are the Brazilian Garden, which is filled with bromiliads - literally thousands of them - from Brazil and the Caribbean Garden with plants from other South American countries and islands. Here one can see how young this garden is. All of the trees (palms) and plants are small. In a year when they have grown and filled in, the area will be drop dead gorgeous, whereas right now it's only interesting. Unfortunately, I did not have a way to collect the botanical names, so you either have to go yourself if you see something that you really like, or contact Marie over at 66 Square Feet for help [she is great on proper names!] I can only show you a few that I found particularly nice.
As you can see, the variety is endless. There were only a few in "bloom", but imagine it in a couple of years. It will be marvelous!
The centerpiece of the Brazilian Garden is a large water feature, complete with tropical water lilies. They were not in bloom yet, but also show a lot of promise for the future. You can see in the distance a lovely mosiac at the top of the waterfalls.
The final area that is currently open is a pavilion and walkway out into a swamp - remember that we are only a few miles from the Everglades here. Along with the "Beware of Alligators" signs are native grasses and bog plants. There is also a bocce court - perhaps in acknowledgment to early Italian settlers to this area.
Two new areas that are still under construction will showcase plants from tropical and sub-tropical Asia and native plants for Florida - including demonstration gardens. They will continue into the water plants and wetland areas that fill the southern half of the state and much of Collier County.
You can see here how sparse the growth is right now. In a city where palms and native grasses grow wild and thick, there is too much open ground here. In a year, it will be filled in and the plantings lush like they are in their natural habitat. I can hardly wait to go back in a few years and see how this garden grows!!
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