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  • Sally Richardson

Dawes Arboretum Home of APGA 2012 Garden Paths

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A hundred and forty years ago or so, I learned to drive a faded maroon 1950 Ford stick shift at Dawes Arboretum just outside Newark, Ohio. My brother, who must have been heavily medicated, took on this thankless task of teaching me how to drive; and I did manage soon after to get a driver’s license.

Here I am again at Dawes, June 2012, only this time, in addition to roadways, there are majestic tents nestled among majestic trees. There is an enormous climbing tree outfitted with swings, straps and pulleys and some wild and crazy people who you aspire to be (but lack the nerve to be), ascending to the highest branches.

There are five food stations to tempt the most determined ‘weight watcher’. There are delicate wildflowers, regular flowers, pots of flowers, lovely scrims hanging from high branches, fireflies, a setting sun through lacey branches and lots of friendly folk, including a most charming Ex.ecutive Director, Luke Messinger.

  • Nicolette Beard

Dagny Johnson Park: Dr. Wilder Initiates Botanical Inventory

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The northern half of Key Largo is mostly preserved natural land. That northern half is bisected lengthwise – from north to south – by Route 905. The Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park ("Dagny Johnson Park") comprises most of the land situated east of Rt. 905; the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge constitutes the majority of land situated west of Rt. 905. 

Some months ago, Dr. Wilder initiated an inventory of the species of vascular plants growing within Dagny Johnson Park. The Park's extensive, comprising 2,421 acres and measuring, approximately, ten miles long. "It will be challenging to complete the plant inventory," notes Dr. Wilder. "I hope that I’ll be able to do so. Completion could require years of work!"

Key Largo Botanical Park History

Dagny Johnson Park contains large areas of tropical hardwood hammock and mangrove vegetation. Present, too, are salt marsh, a very small area of beach vegetation and disturbed land. Parts of the Park are remnants of a Nike missile base dating from the Cold War period, which was functional from 1965 to 1979, approximately. Dagny-Johnson-State-Park-entrance.jpg

The Park was established in 1982 and is named after Anna Dagny Johnson, a local environmentalist – now deceased – who led efforts to save the Park land from development.

Two developers tried successively to develop the area with numerous condominiums and hotels before the Park was established. Fortunately, both attempts failed and both developers declared bankruptcy.

  • Nicolette Beard

Summer Camp is On Rain or Shine!

We’re having a great time at the Naples Botanical Garden summer camp. Campers are flying kites, getting to know the ‘Stinky Plants’ Curator Brett Adams brings in, learning to weave, building rainbow tacos with Julie from Whole Foods and exploring the colorful residents of the wildflower meadow.

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That is only a small taste of the Garden summer camp activities happening all week every week this summer in the Garden. Every day our campers are getting their hands on new art activities, exploring in the Garden and meeting speakers who come from many organizations, from Rookery Bay to the Naples Museum of Art and walks of life, from solar engineers to printmakers.

With access to the plants, butterflies, gardens and staff, the Naples Botanical Garden makes it easy for the counselors, all CCPS teachers, to keep everyone entertained. Our Camp Coordinator, Laura Foht agrees.

“The Garden is the perfect place for curious minds to wander and explore,” said Laura. At least one camper agrees. “This is the best camp ever!  I wish I could go to the Garden all year!,” enthused Trevor. 

  • Nicolette Beard

Tree of Life Rescued from Demo

Our stalwart horticulture assistant and trusted keeper of the plant records, Hetty Ford, and her band of loyal gardeners, removed a mature Lignum Vitae tree, commonly known as the “Tree of Life,” from a demolition lot in Old Naples on Monday, June 18, 2012. The magnificent specimen is now in the Kapnick Caribbean Garden.

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For those novice gardeners (like me) Guaiacum sanctum (Lignum Vitae) is a native Florida tree. Large specimens are rare and, when Hetty learned that this tree was on a demo lot, “I knew we could not let the bulldozers get it,” she said.

  • Nicolette Beard

A Reel Catch - Garden Lake Tarpon

One of the things I like most about the Garden is that people can engage in a variety of experiences depending on their interest area and age level. This last weekend was no exception.

From Catch and Release fishing to another memorable Summer Picnic Concert, we saw a steady stream of visitors; some with fishing poles and major outback gear to early birds toting the classic straw picnic baskets. As one concertgoer claimed on our Facebook page, “The concert today was amazing! (Thank you for that Dolette.)

For years, rumor had it that the Garden Lake was home to tarpon, which seemed like a fanciful tale to many who had heard this story. Lo and behold, a 3-foot tarpon was indeed caught by our very own Director of Horticulture, Brian Galligan.

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One of our longtime volunteers hypothesized that the tarpon found its way into our lake after Hurricane Donna. He suggested that it was the Gulf surge that provided a new home to many of the fish now populating the lake. For those born after 1960, Naples News’ Lighthouse Project provides fascinating tidbits of hurricane history surrounding that devastating day.

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