The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

Day 1 Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

16 Comments

I say “day 1” because I plan to return and view more of the gardens at Kanapaha in the upcoming weeks. Warning: this post is part eye candy, part inspiration and part crack for all those gardeners “at rest.” I came upon a little quote the other day by Rumi on Facebook, “And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots down there are riotous.” That’s something I would cling to if I were spending winter with my garden. That and the whole winter interest thang – evergreen, interesting bark, bright stems, seed heads … Phooey! Look at this!

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It’s tropical, it’s lush, it’s green, it’s … it’s … it’s LEAF LOVE!!!

The entrance to the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, Florida is flanked by bamboo as tall, if not taller than, Maples. So tall I cannot frame them in this photo. I loved the Alligator bench and fountain centered on the thicket of bamboo – yes, those are the trunks of the bamboo.

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I gather from the literature and an advertised bamboo sale and workshop, that Kanapaha is known for its bamboo. Another thicket – this one knocked in the warm breezes – a great attribute I wouldn’t have thought.

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The welcoming building is beautiful with a post and beam type construction. I purchased my husband and I a membership for $50 (includes two adults) since we will be returning a number of times. The gardens even allow dogs (wow!!!) so Mojo will accompany us next time. I also purchased some fish food for .25¢ Fish food you say? I placed my fish tank of some thirty years into a new home so we could migrate here winters, and I do miss it terribly but at the same time, I no longer wish to keep anything in a cage. My new fish tank will be a pond in the garden where creatures can come and go as they please although I will not have fish such as these but I thoroughly enjoyed feeding them, big kid that I am.

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These fish are located in the children’s garden at Kanapaha. I really had fun visiting the children’s garden – this elaborate water circulation system reminds me of something out of Dr. Seuss. (I still need to take that course on videoing …)

This artistic “bedazzled” wall begs to be touched and looked at in detail. I wish I could construct something like this that would withstand our freezing temperatures – perhaps I will. For now, I will settle for the wine bottle border.

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Yes, that is sunshine you see! The sun sets an hour later here than in Clayton.

These wind chimes are nothing but copper pipes – I foresee a new Violet Fern project coming up …

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We chose the children’s garden to visit on this day because it was on the way to the Great Victoria water lilies – the largest water lily in the world. And although I was somewhat disappointed to learn they are now out of season, at least a few were still growing though somewhat tattered.

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On our way back, however, we happened upon this wonderful little Asian Garden. More leaf love in a big way!

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A perfectly calculated waterfall

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Yin and yang set in stone

Look at this, an aloe with a flower bud! Oh, Medusa I hope you are okay. Medusa (my house plant Aloe), has never bloomed for me. I could have brought some of her here and planted her in the gardens! In case you are wondering, I am in zone 9 – ZONE 9!!!

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Of course, in spite of all the tropical foliage and bamboo, I am still drawn to trees. I see the appeal of Crepe Myrtle firsthand. In North Country we might try a Paperbark Maple or River Birch. In zone 5, a London Plane Tree although much larger. There are many Sycamore trees here, too.

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Okay, so we are including “interesting bark” for that inspiration part of the post. There is this beauty, hardy to zone 5.

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This is what I really love about here – these large trees dripping with moss and vines. I have ordered two books on Florida plants so I can begin identifying what I see based on the recommendations of the master gardener program here. I almost signed up for the class, but I decided to wait a couple more years. I hope to focus on painting this winter – see, I’m already distracted.

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But, this, and all these interesting barks are things I would love to paint so I suppose you could say I’m “gathering material,” yeah.

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Remember this little guy? This is the plant Douglas Tallamy discussed as the reason for the incredible comeback of the Atala butterfly (see my previous post). I have seen the Coontie planted in three locations since arriving here: Kanapaha, The Cemetery Point Park in Cedar Key, and my favorite new hangout The Low Key Hideaway Tiki Bar.

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The wall at the Low Key Hideaway Tiki Bar. This is screaming “paint me!”

There’s much more to see at Kanapaha – the Bulb Garden, the Butterfly Garden, the Arboretum, the Rock Garden, the Bamboo Garden and more … Days 2, 3, 4, 5, 6? Until then, you know where I’ll be … at the tiki bar! There’s plenty to see there, too.

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Author: Kathy Sturr

Author of the Violet Fern blog, artist, and master gardener.

16 thoughts on “Day 1 Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

  1. What a great place to visit – lucky you!

  2. Kathy I can see why you want to return…

  3. Kathy I am so excited to see this. I too live in Florida during the winter and in Arcadia Park, Fishers Landing in the summer. I did not know this botanical garden was in Gainsville. I can’t wait to visit. If you are planning on painting this winter be sure to come to SW FL and visit Pine Island for inspiration. You will love the galleries. Thanks for the tour. I will be waiting for the next installment.

    • Hi Elayne, so glad I could introduce you to this wonderful garden. I might have to add Pine Island to my list of places to visit – looks divine! Thank YOU!

  4. One more comment. On your way home to Clayton, stop at the NY botanical garden in Bronx NY they also have the same water lilies plus it’s a place you will LOVE and if you stay over visit Wave Hill Gardens up the road. My home base is northern NJ and those are my two favorite gardens in this area.

    • Elayne, yes the NY Botanical Garden is on my gardens to visit list. I would make a special trip and also thanks for the tip on Wave Hill! One day I will also visit Winterthur, Longwood, and Chanticleer – another trip! Hope to see you on the River this summer!

  5. Such a fun trip. Thanks for taking us along. Oh, and I love bark! Love it.

  6. OH my….you are in heaven-you forgot to tell us! lol..the water sounds in your video…soothing….I need more,too! I love the pebble path you took a photo of-would love to have a pebble mosaic-love.that!
    We had some warm weather last weekend, I rode with a friend all along the river-so we are not having as harsh of a dec as last:-) I just knocked on wood–just in case!:-)
    This was a great post..you inspired me to grow more of my elephant ears, next year. I have not put them in the past few years ( well, I put 3in ) , but I had more in my yard years before…love the leaves! Look forward to see how this trip inspires your garden next summer! thank you for sharing!!!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed Robbie. I have never grown Elephant’s Ear but I am particularly drawn to it as I want to try some in the TI Park Gardens this year. I saved a small one from last year I had in a water container garden and it is in my cellar (probably dying with the rest of my plants): They say you can leave them dormant so I am experimenting within my experiment. I’ll see if it sends up any new shoots come Spring and I will plant in the ground to see if it grows bigger. We’ll see … So glad Winter hasn’t been too taxing thus far!

      • Oh shoot, if you kept it in peat moss or if your cellar is a bit damp it will start growing before you come back. They are amazing + I just dig mine up and store in the basement. My basement is a bit dry so if I don’t get them early and pot them up- they do tend to dry out. I may get some new ones next year for I gave many of mine away-lol. There are a lot of new ones with some PURPLE in the veins-NEAT:-) A girl can not have enough elephant ears-don’t ya think-lol!!!

  7. I just came upon this post. I had forgotten that you were decamping to Florida to escape the winter cold. A smart move! Thanks for the eye candy.

  8. Pingback: Day 2 Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Part 2 | The Violet Fern

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