December 22, 2008

Keys Coastal Habitat

I volunteered on Saturday but yesterday I just went to hang out and explore. I walked down to the Keys Coastal Habitat, which is in the southeast section of the garden known as the lowlands.
The habitat, with existing marsh and mangroves, was planted with Florida native species, principally those from the Florida Keys, that are attractive to birds throughout the year, but with a special emphasis on migrant species.
In the Keys Coastal Habitat, you'll find a winding trail and a wilderness within easy access of urban Miami -- a great respite from the city. Though there are residential backyards literally next door, it's a very peaceful place.

The habitat is a great way to see what the original Florida might've looked like. Existing vegetation was enhanced with other species that thrive in this kind of ecosystem. The trail is full of labels and tags on many trees and shrubs. If you're interested in learning about native gardening, this is a great resource.

Yesterday, I did not actually see any birds -- the only wildlife I saw was a squirrel! I also thought I heard something growl, but you know me, I have an overactive imagination. I also ran into a big cobweb and did a little cursing.

I am told though that with patience you will find a lot of birds here. There are a few posts in the lowlands for raptor nests, but those are currently empty.

If you come to visit this part of the garden, be prepared for a long, lovely walk. The trail begins at the end of the coconut grove, which you'll find by the lake (there is a tiki hut and bench at the grove's entrance).

I recommend you bring comfortable shoes. The best time of the year to visit the trail is during the cooler months when there are fewer mosquitoes. (I actually did not get bit once during my tour.) The trail is not paved but very worn and clear, with several connected detours. Also, unlike Matheson Hammock's mangrove trail, this one is pretty much above water level so I don't think it would get flooded during high tide, though the trail felt moist under my sneakers.

I live streamed from my phone. Click the play button below if you want to join me during part of my exploration; it's about 12 minutes long.

December 21, 2008

Ay Caramba!

Ay Caramba!, originally uploaded by vicequeenmaria.

Do you remember the carambola (starfruit) espalier I've been tending for several weeks? Well guess what? Yesterday, I was looking for the flowers and what did I find?

The fruit of my labor!

Though not yet ripe, don't they look absolutely luscious?

Miscellany - December 21

Here is some miscellany I wanted to share with you ...


I likE plants! is a very cool blog by Tamarac resident Eric Bronson, who describes himself as:
I'm an amateur grower of Tropical Fruits, Species Orchids, Aroids, Bamboo, Rare Palms and other unusual tropical plants. I'm located in Zone: 10b, Lat/Lon: 26.25N 80.26W My garden is completely organic. I am also a member of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, The Rare Fruit & Vegetable Council of Broward County and the American Orchid Society. All the photos you see here are of my yard (unless otherwise noted) and were taken with a Kodak EasyShare M853 Zoom.
Eric also has a Flickr stream and a Rare Tropical Fruits Flickr group.


Do you remember the ghost orchid? Well, don't miss Prem Subrahmanyam's amazing photo gallery. Prem has a gorgeous website detailing his nature expeditions in writing and photography.


The best thing about growing things: eating them! Paradise Farms is a must see:
Paradise Farms is a beautiful five acre certified organic farm located in tropical south Florida. We work in harmony with nature to grow the finest quality delicious greens, micro-greens, herbs, edible flowers, fruits and vegetables available to the best chefs in the Miami area.
And, if you're really into it, become a member of Gabriele's Gardening Angels:
Gabriele’s Gardening Angels is an informal network of South Florida gardeners who have expressed a willingness to contribute some of their time and energy to promote the concept and benefits of home based sustainable agriculture to their friends and neighbors.
I'm happy to include all these sites on the sidebar. Happy gardening, everyone!

December 20, 2008


Pomegranate, originally uploaded by vicequeenmaria.

Pomegranates can be found in local supermarkets now. Have you enjoyed one yet?

These are growing in the orchard at Fairchild. It's a long bush under the tamarind tree, right in front of the aloes. Although I haven't seen a any fruit grow large to edible size yet, the orange flowers are beautiful. The transformation from delicate flower to hardy fruit is always amazing to observe.

December 7, 2008

Tour of the Fruit Pavilion

I don't typically volunteer on Saturdays, but I went yesterday to help out with the Williams Grove fruit market at Fairchild.

I took some minutes to give you a tour of the fruit area. Check it out.