Last Saturday instead of blogging, I went to McKee Botanical Garden with my friend Marjorie. This garden is a former tourist attraction called McKee Jungle Gardens, located in Vero Beach, Florida. We had a wonderful curry lunch in the restaurant on site and strolled the gardens and water features. It is a bit jungly, but a lovely walk on a sunny afternoon.
This is my favorite container garden. An ornamental pineapple (Lava Burst?), Coontie Palm (Zamia integrifolia) and a bit of Spanish Moss spilling over the side.
Tropical Blue Water Lilies.
An introspective owl.
My other favorite container garden. Ferns and Orchids.
Resurrection Ferns and Bromeliads overhang a pathway.
Today it is rainy and we are in the grips of Tropical Storm Nestor. Last Saturday was much better.
I usually write about the art of the garden, but here is a bit of art in the garden. The above photos are of a woven willow structure currently under construction at the McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, Florida. This piece of environmental art is nestled in a grove of palms and constructed of willow saplings and bendable twigs woven together to form a temporary structure. The structure will eventually have three willow towers. Here is a close up of the twig structure:
And here is an overall view:
The artist is Patrick Dougherty and the concept is STICKWORK, here is a link to more information on the artist and installation, http://www.mckeegarden.org/current-exhibition.php
I am usually not very enthralled with environmental art, but I love this. The organic willow towers complement the formality of the palms and I like the facts that the structure is built from willows grown in a sustainable tree farm and after a few years the structure will be evaluated to decide to keep it or compost it. I have visions of the entire thing rooting into the ground and growing a twisted fairy tale castle in the palm grove.
The rest of the garden has a bit of a fairy tale feel as well. Conceived by pioneer developers in South Florida during the first half of the twentieth century – the first buildings were based on Polynesian structures in keeping with the “Jungle” theme. The garden fell into disrepair and was reborn in the early 2000’s shepherded by a dedicated group of garden enthusiasts. Below is one of the original buildings, a great hall centered around a table constructed from a 38 foot long single piece of Mahogany:
The rest of McKee is well worth touring and has a wealth of tropical plants. I saw many types of Bromeliads I had never seen before and an array of Palms, Orchids and tropical trees. The garden began in a mature forest hammock and boasts some incredible native trees and a pathway meandering through the garden inviting you to stop and study the flora. Here are some of my favorite photos from my trek through the garden.