Critters in the Garden

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I enjoyed the critters in the garden the last time I went. There were lots of butterflies but they seemed to be an uncooperative lot – and were really skittish when I moved too where I could get a good picture without a lot of clutter.

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There were lots of other little critters that were very interested in me so I had time to use a tripod.

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When this critter wasn’t moving I couldn’t tell if it was facing to or fro as both ends looked the same. When he did move, he moved fast. I wonder if he can change direction without turning around. There were several of them and I don’t think they are friends of the garden because they had pretty much defoliated this tree.

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They do seem to know how to work together – whether this is good or bad depends on perspective. Maybe today we need to keep our perspective focused on the good within us.

Succulents in the Garden

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What a grand morning in the succulent garden at the Naples Botanical. I have taken a liking to succulents because of this garden but never have I enjoyed snooping around as much as this morning. It was the first Tuesday after Daylight Saving Time so my normal 8 o’clock arrival saw the 7 o’clock sun. Because of this change in time and light, I went first to the eastern side wetland section of the garden to catch to catch the low morning light on the marsh foliage and water. The succulents are on the way back from there so I wandered through while the temp was still on the cool side and the light was less harsh. Usually it is one of my last stops of my morning photo stroll. Please join me.

There are old world succulents and new world, although I didn’t notice where one stopped and the other began. I think my aesthetic gene is stronger than my scientific one.

I spent time admiring how hard structures are used among the succulents – and how the succulents then mold around, maybe hug, the rocks.

This is blooming time for many of the plants, and the weather has been gentle to them. Perfect for photographing.

The color and graceful curves of this plant was like a siren’s call.

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And how could I resist photographing a plant named “Mangave – Spotty Dotty?”

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The small blooms on the tip of this cactus caught my eye, but when I processed my photos I realized that it needed the softness of the adjacent plant for the beauty of the cactus to be fully realized. I wonder how much of our individual beauty is dependent on the contrasting beauty of those around us?

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I met Amanda who is in charge of the succulent garden and spent a little time talking with her. She and a volunteer were filling the back of one of their work carts with the debris from cleaning a small section. It is a constant task given the 12 month growing season and well, life requires a little tidying up every once in a while. She told me that they had added 600 plants in the past year and as I learned in my garden in Michigan, every plant that is added in a garden requires ongoing work. Thank you, Amanda, for your work so I could have a great morning in your garden.

A Walk in the Swamp

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No, we didn’t go for a walk through our nation’s capital. We visited the Bird Rookery Swamp Trails, a part of the land held by the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) trust. This reserve is off Immokalee Road south of the better known Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary run by the Audubon Society.

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What a wonderful walk, although we did just a small portion of the 11 mile loop. There is a quarter mile gravel/shell path to the beginning of the boardwalk, and then the boardwalk is about a mile long. After that there is a dirt path that has scattered roots and protruding rocks so some caution while walking is needed. From reading reviews the path also is in places a narrow walkway through tall grass and a trolley lane used when logging was done in the area (people complained in the reviews that alligators lie across the paths or sun themselves very close to where people pass). The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a shorter walk of 2 1/4 miles (with a 1 mile shorter option), all of which is boardwalk, making it barrier free. The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary charges adults $10 and this sanctuary trail is free (with a donation box by the parking lot).

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Cypress Knees

I was looking for a quiet walk and the opportunity to take some photos. Almost all of my photos this winter have been from the Naples Botanical Garden and I was looking for a different kind of landscape.

I have been thinking that I’m getting used to the southern Florida landscape – after spending 10 winters here. It has been a big adjustment to having just two seasons – rainy/hot and dry/cool. Being from Michigan I kept looking for the drastic seasonal change in plants and landscape. The southern portion of Florida is dominated by the Everglades and whenever we went into the Everglades, or those areas like the Corkscrew preserves that have been dedicated to water and wildlife preservation, my brain sees the exotic, not the vegetation that I recognize and find nourishing to my soul.

It’s not that I don’t know swamps, the area of Michigan where I live was described by settlers as a mosquito infested swamp that was uninhabitable. But Michigan swamps have deciduous trees, oaks and maples. These swamps that I’m visiting in Florida are mainly cypress – and I’m growing to love them.

My soul takes pleasure from the horizontal branches and soft needles of the cypress. I smile at the cypress knees.

 

I also take pleasure in photographing the plants and animals that are a part of this environment – giving me an image to revisit and research so I can learn names and characteristics.

 

If you know the name of the big white flower, please let me know. I believe it is a member of the morning glory family because of the lines on the petals and it grows on a vine (I think).

Jim and I stopped frequently and quietly shared how much we were enjoying the quiet sounds of nature. This might be an area to return to when I hear the Everglades calling me. Jim doesn’t want me to go into the Everglades alone because of the prevalence of alligators and lack of cell phone reception, so this may be a good alternative.

 

I am linking this to the RDP Saturday: Walk. Maybe you can link your ideas about “walk” to the fun.

Leavings

I love beginnings, like starting new quilts and arriving at the Naples Botanical Garden in the morning when the sun is low in the sky, the temperature is cool, and my energy is high. The entrance to the Garden is a boardwalk through an area planted with tropical plants from around the world, something like an introduction to a novel or a trailer for a movie.

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There is a stream running down one side and a small pond with a sculpture from the current collection on the other and I sometimes stop to take a few photos.

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I am eager to walk on, to chat a minute with the woman at the window, the one who swipes my membership card. I am thinking about the type of light I think I will have and how high the sun is. I am plotting my course to either a favorite spot or a special corner of the garden my soul needs to visit. Or maybe I’m thinking about visiting the orchid garden first, before it fills with visitors.

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I always stay too long at the Garden. After I decide it is time to head home, I seem to be drawn into another wonderful photograph and then another. I take my leave of the garden well after my energy is used up, and so tired that even my weekly scone and ginger limeade at the cafe doesn’t do much to perk me up.

I feel satiated as I head for the exit, eager to return home. And then something special happens. The exit is a boardwalk parallel to the entrance, with the lush tropical plants and stream in between. Here I slow down, and pause. Here I find a few more surprises and have to get my camera and tripod out of my cart.

I think I hear a lesson being taught, maybe an echo from long-ago regions of my memory. This lesson has to do with leavings – making sure to do it gracefully and memorably. I wonder if impressions are made more in the leavings than the entrances.

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