Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Mango Brunch

South Florida is the mango capital of the United States.  Every summer we celebrate with everything mango.  We may start the day with mangoes over oatmeal, yogurt or cereal, or just a few eaten fresh over the kitchen sink.  Lunch may be a mango in a green salad with tuna, mango salsa with chips or mangoes and cottage cheese.   For an afternoon snack a mango milkshake or smoothie hits the spot.   Dinner may be a roast chicken with a mango glaze or a curried shrimp and mango dish.
For the past eighteen years the epicenter of mango culinary cuisine occurs at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami.  Top chefs of the area prepare a feast of a mango brunch that is so popular it sells out weeks before the event.   Chef Allen Susser is the premier chef of the event.  He revolutionized South Florida cuisine introducing mangoes at Chef Allen’s in Aventura, and creating new and delicious food combinations that were not seen before.   Currently he is busy with many venues through his Chef Allen's Sustainable Consulting firm.  The other top chefs of  are an amazing bunch. 

 Chris Bulgarin created Delicious Catering Services Event and Design after spending many years working at top local restaurants in Dade County.  You may have seen him on television news cooking demos or at Pinecrest Gardens, or teaching at Miami Dade Community College. Chefs Andrea Curto Randazzo and Frank Randazzo operate the garden café as well as d Creative Tastes Catering & Event ProductionYou may remember Frank from Talula Restauant.   Chef Danial Giraldo of Doral’s Los Verdes rounds out this amazing group of exceptionally talented chefs.  He as successfully demonstrated that healthy food can be created at fast food establishments.  Tim Andriola of Timo and Basil Park is surly going to prepare amazing creations.  Tim Andriola of Lan Pan Asian Café and Yuga contributes with an East Asian flair.  Kareem Anguin of the Oceanaire restaurants is the creative genious behind many new culinary treats.  This superstar team of top chefs will be preparing a meal that many consider the best mango brunch of its kind anywhere in the world.  
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Horticultural Therapy Blooms at Senior Living Residences in South Florida

Mery Stewart lives in Five Star Premier Residences of Pompano Beach.  She is a gifted painter, sculptor and gardener.   Mery asked me to come to her balcony one evening after horticulture class.  Her balcony is always abloom with an amazing selection of plants.  Originally Mery had many gorgeous orchids.  Her balcony faces west on a tall ten story building opposite the beach on the intra coastal waterway in Pompano Beach.  The brutal hot sun would normally bake orchids, but Mery provided filtered shade with some larger leafed tropical plants. 

On this visit, Mery’s balcony looked like a mini nursery.  There were dozens of small containers with an assortment of coleus seedlings, Stepilia cactus, kalanchoe and more.  The containers were recycled plastic pudding and jello cups, yogurt cups and more.  What a delight to see so much going on, and Mery explained, “This is my therapy.  This is what keeps me going.”  Some people love to garden and others garden to live.  Horticulture Therapy works wonders for the mind body and spirit.  Growing and nurturing a plant gives people a sense of purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. 
Mery said, “If you can use these in your class, you are welcome to them. “  We utilized them for the following class at Five Star.  I also had enough to use at other Five Star facilities in the tri county area.  Most seniors have balconies and most like to have plants.  Since gardening is America’s number one pastime, it stands to reason every senior living residence should have a garden club, and most do.

“My father was a landscape architect and my mother worked in a flower shop.”  My sister also loves to garden.  She does this all by herself. “Mery shared beautiful photos her sister sent from Germany.   The gardening group meets monthly on Thursday evenings.  The crowd is always lively, loud and laughing and everyone has a grand time. 

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bountiful bromeliads abound in garden

The joy of growing bromeliads in South Florida is that there is always a species in bloom year round.  The vast array of color, size and texture of the bloom adds distinction to any landscape design in South Florida.

A large group of bromeliads utilized as a ground cover produces stunning blooms.  Alas, this gorgeous display is short lived.  Some bromeliads last months while others last just a week or two.
Sometimes a large bromeliad has great impact if utilized as an accent plant among greenery.  The gray color of the leaves below also add a contrast to the surrounding plants.
Broward county has a bromeliad society that meets monthly.  Click on the hyperlink above for more information.  Years ago I was a regular member.   I really want to go back to a meeting now and then.   They used to have great raffles and you can win wonderful plants.  Members would donate plants each month for the raffle.
For northerners bromeliads make wonderful houseplants as well.  Check your local nurseries for the best selection.   I recommend Aechmeas, Guzmanias, and Cryptanthus to start your collection.  Happy gardening and see you again soon!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Tremendous Exotic Tropical Philodendrons

Exotic tropical philodendrons that are grown as houseplants up north are utilized as ground covers in South Florida. They provide a super tropical look to a garden and are very easy to grow.  Here is the common pothos philodendron, growing up a tree.  Philodendrons are one of a select group of plants that have juvenile leaves and adult leaves.  The juvenile leaves are the more common ones you see growing up north indoors.  The adult leaves form in Florida on established philodendrons.  The leaves get much larger and often develops swiss cheese like holes in the leaves.  Botanists are perplexed as to why the leaves change this way, some hypothesize that in the jungles it allows water to flow through the immense leaves.

This is a swiss cheese philodendron growing up a palm tree.

 However the vining philodendrons can become challenging to manage if left unchecked.  In the photo below, a vine is growing up a window screen.  It is

blocking light causing the room to be unusually dark.  If left unchecked, it will climb up over the window up the wall to the roof.  In the photo below, you will see some common philodendrons climbing up a wall of my house.

In the lower left corner, these clumping philodendrons from Brazil, are spreaders so make a wonderful ground cover.
Roberto Burle Marx discovered this philodendron in a rainforest in Brazil and named it after himself.  It flourishes in a vase filed with water indoors.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Mystery of the Wilson avocado

Every Tuesday there is a farmers market at Whole Foods in Fort Lauderdale and there are always amazing local vendors selling fresh locally grown vegetables, homemade vegan foods and desserts, soups, spices, carribean teas, homemade soaps, chocolate, breads and so much more.

My favorite vegetable vendor is Enrique from EasyTropical who has a farm in Homestead.  He grows a lot of fruit and vegetables and also supplements with other vegetables grown in other climates.  This week I saw a gigantic avocado.  He said he grows it on his farm, and it was a Wilson.  I asked him to tell me the history of the fruit but he only knew its name.

When I returned from the market I googled Wilson Avocado and was thrilled with the back story.  I had never even heard of Wilson Popenoe before doing research. I knew Dr. Fairchild was responsible for introducing a tremendous amount of tropical palms, plants and fruit trees to South Florida, and Mr. Wilson Popenoe at the same time was instrumental in introducing avocados.

The Wilson variety was recently the first fruit in all of Florida to be inducted into the Ark of Taste.  Slow Food Miami, an organization promoting locally produced food, along with Dr. Helen Violo of the University of Florida and Mike Winterstein of the USDA are on a mission to resurrect the Wilson Avocado from obscurity.  Apparently they believe there are only a few trees left in all of Florida.  They are not aware of Enrique's prolific grove of trees.  Now it is my mission to introduce the above people to help them save the Wilson Avocado.

What is so special about this fruit?  It is all about the flavor which is unique and unlike other avocados.   It was a super flavor and amazing buttery texture.  As of this writing I have yet to taste mine.  It is sitting on a kitchen counter ripening. Perhaps tomorrow it will be ready to taste.  I can't wait!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Miami Beach Botanical Garden is the crown jewel of South Florida

Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a spectacular garden located within the heart of South Beach a block away from Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue.  When you want to get away from the broiling heat of the beach or have done enough shopping, the garden offers  shaded tranquility for spending time with Mother Nature.  For both tourists and locals it offers a fascinating experience to explore exotic tropical plants from all around the world.

The garden is under three acres but seems much larger.  Within this tiny space you can explore a Japanese garden, fountains, meandering paths, sculptures, a social hall, gorgeous tropical trees shrubs and ground covers. There is always something in bloom at the garden as well.   I have visited the garden often over the years and always felt rejuvenated and energized afterward.

 In 1962 the park was created on vacant land in back of the Miami Beach Convention Center. In 1996 a group of garden visionaries created a nonprofit conservatory and the garden has blossomed into an cultural and educational center for both locals and tourists. A magical transformation occurred in 2011 when well known landscape architect Raymond Jungles elevated the garden to new heights.  The new design added more plants, fountains, sculptures, paths and vistas.

The foundation created a wonderful place for educational and cultural programing all year round.  Check the Miami Beach Botanical Garden website for upcoming events.
Due to the proximity to the convention center and hotels, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden offers a wonderful venue for corporate events, weddings, receptions and special occasions.  There is an ample sized room overlooking the garden for indoor affairs, as well as a multitude of areas within the outdoor garden for events.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Create Magical Nature Projects Improve your Blog with GraphicStock

 Don't Desert the highway for a short cut.
                                            ~Old Irish Expression

 Graphic images can be utilized for pressed flower and nature print cards for birthdays, anniversaries, get well, miss you cards, etc. nature printing, posters, wall decorations, messages and so much more. Graphics for decoupage projects are ideal. Graphic images make ideal note paper as well. Having access to amazing graphic images can change your blogging life, business life and personal life for the better.
The joys of spring.

 There is an amazing company GraphicStock that is offering a free trial of their graphic designs. Remember that once you sign up for the free trial you should enjoy the benefits and if you chose to stay on, you will pay for the discounted membership of just $99 for the year, instead of the usual $588. Please cancel your subscription if you do not want to pay for the membership before the trial date is over.
Nothing tastes as good as homegrown vegetables. Now is the time to plant your garden!

I am not a tech geek. The good news is their site is easy to navigate. Since I am a highly visual person, I was like a kid in a candy store enjoying all the images. On the free trial, you are limited to 20 downloads a day. You click on the images you want and they download to your computer. You find them in your download files. Then you can utilize the images in a multitude of ways. 
A rose is a rose is a rose. ~ Gertrude Stein

 The above images are all from GraphicStock. They are just marvelous. Think of all the possibilities you can utilize these for your blog, business or personal use. Great news, there is a giveaway one year complimentary access to GraphiStock values at $588. All you have to do is:
1) Sign up for a 7 day free trial or the limited time $99 annual membership (a $588 value)
2) Complete your own project or give your opinion of the GraphicStock tutorial. 3) Comment on my blog about your completed project.