After making our way across the smoldering asphalt, we found relief in cool air conditioning, a water fountain, and a reduced admission fee! Seven dollars a piece was enough to buy us an entire day of exploring. We arrived at three o'clock however, too fashionably late to take in all of the sights before closing time at five, so we had a mere two hours to suffer under the relentless sun... I mean, enjoy the gardens.
While the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has a reputation as the botanical garden to visit in Florida, Leu Gardens is extraordinary in its own unassuming way. Harry P. Leu Gardens lies in zone 9b, and is a lot less tropical than the Fairchild's 10b climate, and the division between temperate and tropical climates is blurred. As a result, you're likely to find camellias and roses intermingling with heliconias and tropical fruit trees.It does freeze here, just enough to keep things interesting.
I spent my two hours zipping back and forth between shady respites from the blazing sun, feverishly snapping photos before dashing away to another shady area. Where was Mrs. Rainforest Gardener this whole time? Lounging beneath pergolas and live oaks, taking in the sights from a comfortable vantage point. There were so many areas of the gardens that would have been great places to stroll, but the sun turned classical rose gardens and cottage gardens into inhospitable wastelands. The colors were bleached and faded by the blinding light until a cloud passed overhead, briefly revealing a glimpse of the beautiful plants before the sun jumped out again, blotting out the pastel colors with searing white. I kept to those darker patches where the sun couldn't follow.
|Alcantarea imperialis surrounded by purple heart. What a combo!|
|My wifey enjoying the shade. Isn't she lovely?|
|Neoregelia "Fireball" clambering out of its container.|
|A gorgeous wildflower garden... I'm sure it would be even prettier near sunset!|
|The trunk of Ceiba speciosa, or silk floss tree, is just as interesting as its flowers!|
|Look at how well those variegated plants tie in with the building. Nice.|
|This was in the idea garden area, and the bold use of coleus, cannas and crinums is giving me ideas already!|
|This looks like Colocasia gigantea... it's taller than me!|
|See what I mean? HUGE!|
|Another idea garden, this one is an "enabling" garden.|
|This little bit of paradise has my name written all over it.|
|What an excellent way to replace a front yard! I wish that all of the homeowners associations would agree.|
|Neoregelia macwilliamsii or Neo. compacta. One of those two.|
|Ti plants and palms wave farewell.|