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Flo Rida!

July 18, 2012 Blog 5 comments

Not the rap artist, the state!  About a month ago, Jessica and I went with her family to Sarasota, Florida for a week long vacation.  While staying in Florida, we visited the beach (of course) and some interesting sites!  On Thursday of that week we traveled about 60 miles to Fort Myers to visit my Grandma on my mother’s side.  My grandma is a permanent resident there.  She took us on a swamp walk, to the Edison Ford Estate and to a few local gardens with some neat tropical and sub-tropical plants!

First, we went on a three mile swamp walk.  The swamp walk is an elevated boardwalk that takes you through a variety of ecosystems with various plant and animal life including alligators, wild boars, epiphytic plants (orchids and bromeliads) and many species of trees and ferns.

Jessica and Grandma walking ahead.

Taxodium distichum, balk cypress trees.

Taxodium distichum ‘KNEES’!

This is the reason why they are called, bald cypress trees.  These are actually root extensions from below which form and act as oxygen absorbers.  Since the trees are in saturated/swampy sites, there is a higher water content and a lesser oxygen content in the soil.  Creating ‘knees’ above ground allows the tree to get the needed oxygen for the roots.

During the swamp walk, it would open up to various bodies of water.  Gators would often be seen in these areas, but more so in the evening (our walk was in the late morning)

More of, ‘the TREES KNEES’!

A small swamp area with plenty of birds and hidden alligators.

Can you see the alligator?

Yes, this is a picture of an alligator!  It was only about 2 feet long, but was the first one I have seen in the wild!  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any large ones while we were there.  My grandma said that she thought it was funny that most everyone who comes to Florida for the first time wants to see an alligator!  I was scanning almost every body of water to see if I could see some poking out.  Even the ones next to the mall.  Hey, you never know!

Check out that Tillandsia plant!

Yeah, some people think I am a plant nerd and find random, plant things to be interested in.  But, I think these plants are cool!

Tillandsia sp. are plants in the Bromeliad family and are also ephiphytic plants.  An Epiphytic Plant is a plant that grows on another plant for mechanical support but not for nutrients.  They are also called aerophytes or, air plants.

These Tillandsia sp. are growing on a Taxodium sp. tree.

Resurrection Fern, Pleopeltis polipodiodes

Resurrection fernis an epiphytic fern that also grows on other plants without depending on soil for nutrients.  When it’s dry out, they shrivel up and look like they’re dead.  Once it rains, the fern comes back to life!

A whole log covered with resurrection fern!

Another Tillandsia, Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss)

Tillandsia usneoides is another epiphytic plant.  Known for hanging from tree limbs.  This plants natural growing range is in areas such as Virginia, Florida, down to Argentina, and in other areas such as Hawaii and Australia.  I have seen it on a tree in Washington State when I lived there in 2011.

Bromeliad plants don’t need soil because they have cellular, epidermal outgrowths which are able to collect water, nutrients and maintain humidity.  These are called trichomes.

Edison-Ford Estate

My grandma took us to the Edison-Ford Estate where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both lived at one point in their life.  Thomas Edison and his employees were known for their many inventions while Henry Ford was a leader in the automobile industry.  They actually worked together with various projects and were close friends.

Some of you know the plant, goldenrod, Solidago sp.  Edison grew a species of this plant for it’s latex content and collaborated with Henry Ford to find a reliable source of latex to make rubber!

Sansevieria sp.

The common snake plant which is often grown indoors by many amateur plant growers… Mostly because this plant is very hard to kill!

There were many interesting species of fig trees on the estate. Check out the way this fig relative produces fruit from the main stems!

The mysore fig, Ficus mysorensis

These trees are amazing!  They get so huge!  A couple of unique things about them is that they create aerial roots from their branches, which extend down to the ground, sometimes very far from the main trunk.  By doing this, the aerial roots that extend downward will actually root into the soil and establish a new ‘main trunk’ and the process repeats.  Over a hundred years the tree can spread to almost an acre!

Ficus mysorensis

One of my favorite ‘ferns’. Platycerium bifircatum, the staghorn fern! Also an epiphytic plant.

We saw many unique gardens and plants in the Fort Myers area, before and after our trip to the swamp and to the Edison-Ford Estate!

A really neat Euphorbia sp. hedge! This is the same plant species as your Christmas Poinsettia!

This plant produces several ‘plantlets’ along the main inflorescence (flowering stem)

Another Bromeliad type plant. So cool!

A plant collection of one of my grandma’s friends. Reminds me of some people at Longwood Gardens that just couldn’t stop collecting rare plants! Plant geeks!!

A Clivia miniata collection. In memory of my clivia friend from Longwood, Alan Petravich! Alan has been breeding Clivia sp. for several years and just recently developed a rare, yellow variety called, Clivia miniata ‘Longwood Fireworks’!

A nice paver driveway. Pavers can be more expensive to install than concrete or asphalt, but have numerous long-term benefits. Some include; a variety of colors/patterns, easy to remove and re-install if need be, easily replaceable is something happens to the service, no need to seal driveway and much more.

Back to grandma’s house to see her new tile patio and neat plants!

A hardy Florida avocado tree. Produces avocados about 6″ large!

A neat bench.

And to finish, we went back to my grandma’s house to talk and say goodbye.  Check out those bird of paradise!

Jessica’s family and I. I actually got into the family picture this year, YES!!

Thanks for browsing through!  Hopefully this post was enjoyable!


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Gail Edgell - July 19, 2012 Reply

Love love the pictures. Before I worked I was into plants. Marty Nunemacher and I would swap out transplants. My Clivia only bloomed once. Grandma Peters always had snake plants. Marty had some big staghorn ferns. I would have loved the swamp walk. Great pictures. thanks for sharing.

Jessica - July 31, 2012 Reply

Great blog post as usual! 🙂 xoxo

Regina - August 11, 2012 Reply

sweet pictures and great information. FLO RIDA!

Cleon Martin - October 15, 2012 Reply

Great photos Gavin! I think I’ll sign up for your blog. Miss you!

Gavin - December 10, 2012 Reply

Thanks, Cleon! I try to post on here at least once a month with useful, interesting landscape-related information! Other times, I post on personal subjects so people can get to know me better as a person! Hopefully see you around soon.

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