Tropical Interlude

 A recent business trip took me over yonder to the Atlantic side . We Californians don't typically need to vacation in Florida when a trip down the interstate or a short plane ride will deposit us in zone 10, with significantly less humidity . Some of us actually live in zone 10-see Denise at AGO for your frost free fix. Every trip I've ever taken to Florida has been work related, and the only place I've ever really desired to visit there as a tourist is the Everglades and the Keys. I have yet to do this.
  Florida is flat , and all the pretty stuff is at the ocean, where I was not. In fact I spent about 4 days schlepping around in an over-refrigerated convention center . I did however have some great fish tacos and decent local beer. I rigged my schedule so I would have at least a half day at leisure to visit a garden..surely there were gardens ? As it happened, The Harry P Leu  Gardens were only 15 miles north of my hotel, so I rented a car for the afternoon and of I went , in search of Floridas botanic side.

 The Leu Gardens are on 50 acres on the north end of Orlando. Mr Leu was the 4th owner of the property, which dates back to the 1800's. Harry  purchased the estate in 1936 ;he and his wife Mary Jane had an interest in horticulture. My sense is that they were not active gardeners, but instead wealthy conservationists who created a garden and subsequently donated it to the city of Orlando. Every city could use a couple like Harry and Mary Jane.

 Sansiveria grove, with a philodendron -cloaked pavilion in the background.

 Tropic-deep south

 These next few photos were taken in the Tropical Stream Garden, nicely done with meandering paths beneath a canopy of palms  and live oaks .

Ceiba speciosa  aka Chorisia , Silk Floss Tree, with Rhapis palm in the background.

Trunk detail..might be a great fit for the Danger Garden don't you think ?

Bloomy Palms

Lots of water in Fla.. garden visitors are teased by the 'gater info signs, but all I could see were turtles. And a stork.

It's the south, gotta have some azaleas and drippy Spanish moss.

 The Colocasias were vast..

Don't know what this lily-esqe plant was -Nerium maybe ? It was very cool , with the big bronzy foliage  and basketball sized flower cluster.

Miss Scarlett, can you come out and play ??

 This garden is also home to 'The largest Camellia collection in Eastern North America'. The 200 varieties include a very rare yellow cultivar which draws excited crowds of Camellia-philes. The Camellias were gone over by the time of my visit--I saw the all too familiar brown blobs in what would have been a pretty damn impressive display 30 days earlier . Obviously this is what I deserved.


  1. Always love your photos and commentary. Florida is another world from mine, but the foliage and textures always impress.
    During long stop-overs returning to Canada from Haiti, I've managed to see 'gators and fascinating birds there.
    I agree with you that "every city could use a couple like Harry and Mary Jane."

  2. Yes please! I'd take that spiked tree no problem! (I do know the name of it but it's escaped me for the moment). What a lovely adventure, never have been to Florida myself.

  3. wonderful pics ! happy March :)

  4. The place looks gorgeous! Never been to Florida before and now I'm curious!

  5. Oh to be able to grow Colocasias like that! Is Orlando frost free? Florida doesn't strike me as garden centric state but I could be wrong. Count me as an northern east coast resident who not a Florida fan as evidenced by a recent e-mail from my mom reminding me the last time I was there was 2008. Ooops.

  6. In think the mystery plant is Crinum x amabile. Florida is one big playground, especially for plant people.

  7. all so familiar to me...(one hour away) I have never been but will make a point to !! thanks

  8. So glad you were able to combine business and gardens. I like the way you think -- surely, there must be gardens! (and good fish tacos and decent local beer -- and don't call me Shirley...)


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