Friday, February 19, 2010

Botanical Gardens

On arrival at the Botanical Gardens I pulled the kennel up to the sign and stopped. "I think they mean to follow the arrow," my wife said gently. "Oh,"I replied. "The sign means Park There. Why doesn't it say so?"
"Not everyone is as literal as you are honey," my long suffering wife replied.

We caught the Botanical garden on Stock Island in a momentary ray of pale sunshine as clouds broke up and reformed in anticpation of the next round of windy cold weather battering us this endless winter. Good weather for ducks, as the saying goes.

I called this sculpture the "acupuncture garden" and we watched a turtle burrow through the needles wobbling them around a bit.

When my wife pointed out a turtle I thought she was pointing to a well worn coconut lying on the shore. She got indignant and luckily for her there were some real turtles wandering around. Luckily for her because ever since the day she mistook a coconut for a manatee I have stood by ready to make fun of her.

There were quite a few clumps of people wandering around tro enjoy the display of sculptures, part of Sculpture Key west. this year the exhibit is on show in three different places, Fort Zachary (which I have already written about) and the West Martello Tower in addition to the Botanical Garden.I will have a separate essay later in the week on the sculptures on display. I am not a fan of the split display areas but there are people who operate these spaces that have very loud voices in this small community and I guess they all want a piece of the action. This display reminded my wife of her visit to Easter Island:In fact it is called "Diaspora" so I wondered if they had forgotten to place pebbles on the headstones, in the Jewish custom. The garden used to be a quiet forgottne backwater but now it is full of paths and instructions.There used to be tons of turtles in the pond but people came to steal them and eat them apparently in the bad old days when the gardens were open to all comers. The pond was a peaceful spot.Cheyenne, ever impatient, understood that we were going to sit awhile and watch the water so she gave up the unequal tugging struggle.Plunging into the brush on the far side of the pond we passed close by the boundary fence separating the garden from the frenzied activity of the golf course.

We were not alone and on the far side of the pond we could see people wandering:Until we got back to the starting point of the loop and one of my favorite trees- the date palm. We used to bring pizzas into the garden many years ago and have picnics when the only other people were (presumably) turtle rustlers and homeless men looking for somewhere quiet to sleep. I used to stop by here on my way back to my boat to listen to the wind rustling the date palm. Nowadays the Gardens are firmly closed at 4pm. The price of progress.Progress continues apace:With boardwalks making the gardens wheelchair accessible.
It is a place worth a visit, touted as the US's only continental frost free botanical garden, though I doubt Fairchild in Miami ices over much.Above we see a piece of old drywall preserved in the garden and below another loop taking us off toward College Road: In such a small landmass it is quite remarkable to have this shady groves to hang out in: As peaceful as it appears the sounds of traffic are always present as is the humming from the water pumping station run by the Aqueduct Authority on College Road.
Cars, barely visible through the foliage:
The Power Boat Squadron headquarters across College Road:
And the inevitable barnyard creatures which seem to get everywhere:
They have built this large pond near the enatrance. This was where we started with the plastic sculpture stretched across the water.
And this is where we end, though they are having an open house this weekend at the gardens to show off their annual progress.