1 In the Fragrance and Rose Garden, amidst a bed of New Guinea impatiens is a "Pansy and Bee" LEGO creation made by artist, Sean Kenney. It is part of his Nature Connects exhibit. This pansy is made of 29,314 LEGO pieces and took 240 hours to complete.
2 Director of Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County, Allen Sistrunk, gave us a great tour.
3 Hanging from the branch of this tall bael fruit tree, Aegle marmelos, is a large, staghorn fern, Platyceriums - it is such a beautiful specimen.
4 The frangipani tree flowers throughout the warm season. Hawaiian leis are commonly made from the flowers of the frangipani. Each flower variety has its own unique fragrance, which makes it perfect for the Rose and Fragrance Garden.
5 Sean is a LEGO Certified Professional, and one of the premier LEGO artists in the world. This is his "Monarch of Milkweed" piece. It took Sean 425-hours to put together the 60,549 building bricks that make up this piece.
6 Located in the Butterfly Garden, this LEGO monarch is feeding on a milkweed flower, the butterfly's food in nature. Sean wanted this exhibit to show how his LEGO animals fit into their natural environments.
7 This is the Garden of Extremes - a collection of plants that tolerate "extremes", such as high heat, low moisture, and burning winds. These plants are mostly salt tolerant, which makes them great coastline specimens. The garden includes ponytail palms, and prickly pear cacti.
8 This permanent sculpture is called "Educating Sarah" and is by local artist, Robert St. Croix. A group of cycads is planted in the bed behind it.
9 Rhizomatous begonias are grown mostly for the beautiful foliage. I have amassed quite a collection of my own rare begonias. In the tropics, where hostas don't grow as abundantly, gardeners often choose to plant begonias instead.
10 This LEGO "Peacock" is made of nearly 69-thousand pieces. It took the artist 625-hours to make it.
11 Sean is so attentive to detail - he included the quills of the peacock's feathers and created a very lifelike body of the bird.
12 This is a rainbow tree, Eucalyptus deglupta. It can grow up to six-feet wide and more than 200-feet tall. It is grown widely around the world for its pulpwood and used in making paper.
13 Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark, which darkens and matures to blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones as it exfoliates.
14 People are wary of bamboo because it is so invasive in the garden. Mounts has more than 20-varieties. This is tropical clumping bamboo.
15 Tropical clumping bamboo expands outward from the original plant. Its canes make distinct sounds when wind causes them to rub against each other.
16 This "Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly" is another LEGO masterpiece - this one is built out of 27,788 LEGO pieces. It is sitting in the Dry Stream Bed, again showing where the animals would appear naturally. Plants here can tolerate temporary flooding and periods of drought.
17 Mounts used branches to create a natural fence for this LEGO "Deer Family". The fence not only adds artistic dimension to the work, but it also helps deter children from getting too close to the sculptures. The bushes surrounding them are silver saw palmetto.
18 It took more than 70-thousand LEGO pieces to make the buck, fawn and doe.
19 This sculpture is called "Bird in a Tree", and is a permanent installation by a local artist, Gert Olsen. It is made out of Etowah marble. This side of the piece represents a palm tree, and the other a deciduous tree.
20 The Bodhi Tree, or Bo-Tree, Ficus religiosa, is a large and very old sacred fig tree. Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment under a Bo-Tree in India. It is also known as the "peepal tree" in Nepal and in Bhutan. It can grow to seven-thousand years old. This one is about 12-years old. It can also grow to about 18-feet in diameter.
21 Allen showed us a leaf off the Bo-Tree. It is very recognizable by its heart shape and often displayed in murals and other Eastern art decorations.
22 This is a kapok tree, Ceiba pentandra. Often described as majestic, it can grow to a height of 15-feet or more, towering over other trees in the rainforest. Its seed pods are filled with cotton like fluff.
23 This ponytail palm is a very, very old specimen, Nolia recurvata. Mounts rescued the tree from demolition in downtown West Palm Beach about seven-years ago. Naative to deserts of Mexico, it rarely has to be watered. Mounts has never watered this tree - there is enough water in its swollen base to last about two years.
24 Allen showed us the sign placed next to the tree to emphasize that the garden always provides a plant's proper name and at least three lines of interesting information, so visitors can go on self-guided tours.
25 These trees are called pond cypress. They are located in Mounts' Rain Garden. Plants in this garden can survive under water for a month or two. They can also survive severe drought.
26 This is a LEGO "Ruby Throated Hummingbird" most prevalent on the Eastern seaboard. It is feeding out of a trumpet flower - you can see the anthers inside the trumpet flower blooms.
27 This is a "Corn Spider" LEGO sculpture. Mounts put the spider up in netting to help it look more in place in nature.
28 In Mounts' Edible Garden are LEGO sculpture "Gardening Grandpa" and "Gardening Granddaughter". These pieces are slightly larger than life size.
29 Here is a bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, like the ones I have at my Bedford farm. It is a deciduous conifer that grows on saturated and seasonally inundated soils of the Southeastern US.
30 Here are the knees of the bald cypress, distinctive structures forming above the roots. One early assumption of their function was that they provide oxygen through the tree's root systems.
31 These are shooting stars, Clerodendrum, also known as glory bower, and bagflower.
32 This "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" plant blossoms late into the season. It got its name because of its fragrant two-inch blooms. The flowers last for three days and change color with each day. The first day they are purple, then lavender and finally almost white.
33 Allen showed us the Croton, Codiaeum variegatum 'Eleanor Roosevelt', an evergreen shrub that is dense and compact, but can reach four-feet wide. This cultivar is green with splashes of yellow.
34 This is a bromeliad wall. Bromeliads are easy to grow as houseplants and bring interesting texture and color into the garden. The bromeliad wall is located at Mounts' Color and Shade Island.
35 Also in this area is a "Galapagos Turtle and Finch" made of LEGOs. And on his back, is a Darwin's Finch. Although not closely related to the finch, there are about 15-species of Darwin's Finches living on the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin discovered several species that varied from island to island, and helped him develop the theory of natural selection.
36 Cycads are hardy, evergreen, cone-bearing plants. They are considered "living fossils" because they have existed for many, many years.
37 This is an Annatto, or Lipstick tree, Bixa orellana, a large shrub to small tree that has pink flowers in the fall followed by bright red, bristly pods containing red pigmented seeds used as lipstick and to dye various foods.
38 Allen smashed a pod for us, so we could see the pigment from this fruit - but don't use it as lipstick - it's permanent.
39 This is a Royal poinciana, Delonix regal. Palm Beach is in hardiness zone 10b, and this tree can't really grow well north of here. Through summer, it is covered in scarlet orange flowers.
40 This is a 30-year old Royal poinciana. The seeds in these large pods are collected, soaked in water for at least 24-hours and then planted in warm, moist soil in a semi-shaded position. Maybe I will try to grow one in my greenhouse.
41 Here I am holding a Royal poinciana pod from Allen.
42 Tropical foliage provides year round color at Mounts' garden and in the Palm Beach, Florida region. The plant in the foreground is called a signature plant. The lighter peachy-pink tree is Acalypha.
43 This is a Pandanus tree, with its distinctive thick prop roots near the base - so interesting. They grow wild in areas of the tropical and subtropical Pacific where they can withstand drought, strong winds, and spray.
44 A powder puff tree, Calliandra, which can grow to 25-feet in diameter. These are primarily fall and winter blooming plants that have lots of fragrant, showy flowers that are attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds.