You're blown away before you even enter the doors to Kanapaha, and its a great place too see some of the tougher cold tolerant bromeliads like this large neoregelia, and even some treats such as the painted feather calathea! Some plants didn't make it through the record breaking winter, and I noticed a few broms and a red mangrove were missing this visit.
cold hardy bromeliads planted, including the nidularium pictured below.
The Ginger GardenThere are so many varieties and species of ginger to observe, and the garden has the effect of a lush rainforest when all the deciduous gingers have leafed out. Early fall is a great time to visit since they're all in their prime and haven't begun to go dormant. To the left is a Southern classic, pinecone ginger! If you live up north and want a tropical looking summer bulb, this one should be your first.
The Fern CobbleThis is one of my favorite places to take a break from the long paths, and I often sit beside the gurgling water feature and admire the Japanese birds nest ferns, or asplenium nidus. These are the hardy kind from Japan, and the fronds have a "V" shaped cross section and a narrower shape. I grow one in my garden too, and if you follow the link you'll also see how they looked in spring after temps in the teens, though I think the bleaching is from the extra sun in winter.
The Rock GardenAbove is another birds nest fern, but growing as a lithophyte in the dry rock garden! I have seen photos of Balinese spas with the tropical version growing like this, and I would love to emulate that look. Maybe hypertufa is the way to go...
To the left is a dyckia brevifolia growing similarly, between two boulders. I love seeing the bromeliad's dramatic form against the lichen encrusted rocks!
Below is a shot of their huge ponytail palm, which was unfortunately unlabeled.
Herb GardenWhile the variety in knot garden of medicinal, aromatic and edible herbs is extensive, I always run straight towards the few tropical fruits, such as this pink velvet banana! All but one of my seedlings died from drought, so it was nice to see their huge specimens for a little motivation. The fruit's pulp is technically edible, though maneuvering through the seeds is tricky.
Would you believe that the big tree in the photo above is an avocado... in ZONE 8B? Its looking pretty great considering the temps in the mid teens this winter, and I actually found a way to buy its progeny. "Southeast Mushroom and Edible Plants" in High Springs sells them, and while my garden doesn't have room for one, hopefully someone can try it and let me know how it does! Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also visit them at Kanapaha's spring festival or at other plant sales in the area.
Unfortunately the huge multitrunked papaya plant didn't last this winter, though it was impressive enough for it to survive last year's cold! I wonder if its a special variety.
Anyways, Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on how to make the "Gack O' Lantern"! Here are some more pics from throughout the gardens, in case you haven't had enough by now...