Whenever I travel, I always try to fit in as much as I can - I love visiting new places that are both informational and inspirational.
Recently, I was invited to speak at the 16th Annual United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast in Miami, Florida, where I addressed more than 1200 of the city’s most influential and philanthropic women. It was a wonderful event celebrating the great work these individuals do for their communities.
While I was in the area, I also had the time to visit a beautiful private garden in Coconut Grove. The garden was filled with rare and unusual palms, including zombie palms, bottle palms and petticoat palms. Here is a selection of photos from the tour - enjoy.
Here I am standing in front of a stunning, yet rare, Copernicia fallaensis, or Giant Yarey palm. It produces a massive, smooth, light gray trunk that can reach up to about 65-feet tall. The huge, rounded crown consists of many enormous, oval leafblades that are very evenly divided into very stiff segments.
Here is a view of some of the beautiful native and collected specimens in this garden – such a serene and natural place where the water from the bay flows through the property.
I noticed the cycads right away – I also have cycads, sago palms, in my greenhouse. Cycads are true living fossils – they are a group of cone-bearing plants that are the oldest seed plants in the world.
This is Pseudophoenix vinifera, This palm is about 40-years old. Pseudophoenix vinifera was once commonly used in palm wine production. Trees were cut down and the pith extracted, especially from the swollen portion of the stem.
Gaussia princeps, commonly known as palma de sierra, is a palm endemic to Cuba. These trees are tall with whitish stems which are swollen at the base and tapering above – another rare and beautiful palm. This one is more than 50-year old.
Pseudophoenix sargentii is a native of the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. Also known as buccaneer palm, this tree is notable for extremes – its drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance and very, very slow growth rate.
Clerodendrum trichotomum is a species of flowering plant in the genus Clerodendrum. It is in the family Lamiaceae, and is native to China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and India. It offers a late-summer display of jasmine-like white flowers encased in red tepals with a pretty fragrance.
The red art piece is by Marco Polo “Mark” di Suvero, an abstract expressionist sculptor and a 2010 National Medal of Arts recipient. This 30-foot sculpture is called Olompali (2006), and was named after a native Indian tribe.
Here is another view of the Olompali. In front of it are two trees native to Madagascar – a Pachypodium is the one without leaves and the baobab tree, to its left with many leaves, is a prehistoric species which predates both mankind and the splitting of the continents over 200-million years ago. There are five of these baobab trees in this garden.
This Copernicia gigas is a type of palm endemic to eastern and central Cuba. It is similar in appearance to Copernicia macroglossa, but instead of semicircular leaves it grows narrow leaves which resemble slender cuts of pie.
Here I am with Yolanda Berkowitz and Raymond Jungles, an American landscape architect and founder of the firm bearing his name.
Here is a view looking past the dock to the calm waters off Florida.
On the left, Rhizophora mangle, known as the red mangroves. There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediment and mud to accumulate. They are very valuable in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas coastal ecosystems, and create ideal environments for other plants and animals.
Many mangrove forests can be recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water.
The neat, skinny palms in the background are a type of Veitchia. They resemble a dwarf version of the royal palm, Roystonea regia. It has a single slender gray stem that is smooth, sectioned by leaf scar rings and is swollen at the base.
This is a majestic Bismarkia palm. I have these in my tropical collection also, and love to display them in my courtyard during the summer months. Bismarckia nobilis grows from solitary trunks, gray to tan in color, which show ringed indentations from old leaf bases. The nearly rounded leaves are enormous when mature, and are divided to a third its length into stiff segments.
This palm is stunning. The Petticoat Palm Tree, Copernicia macroglossa, is native to Cuba. The unique feature of this palm is its fan-shaped leaves that have no petioles. If not removed, dry old leaves form a “petticoat”. This slow growing palm can tolerate drought, is cold hardy, and can also be grown indoors. There are four of these petticoat palms in the garden.
The stately Bailey palm, or Copernicia baileyana, has a massive gray trunk that can be up to 24-inches in diameter and reach 50-feet in height. This palm has a large crown with dense fan shaped leaves that curve upward. The leaves are about five-feet across, and have a thin waxy coating. The name baileyana is named in honor of Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954), who was among the world’s foremost botanists, horticulturists and palm experts.
This palm is from Brazil, Copernicia cerifera. The name may sound familiar because it is commonly referred to as Carnauba, the hard wax derived from the tree’s leaves that is often used in skin care products.
Copernicia gigas is endemic to south-eastern Cuba. These large trees are harvested from the wild for local use as a source of thatch material and is considered a “vulnerable” threatened species.
Another critically endangered and beautiful palm is the the bottle palm, Hyophorbe lagenicaulis, a species of flowering plant in the Arecaceae family. It is native to Round Island, Mauritius. Bottle palms have large swollen trunks and only four to six leaves open at any time.
Here is a view of the other end of the water feature seen at the top of this gallery. The roots hanging down in the center are from a ficus.
A most interesting tree is the Pithecellobium. It actually falls down and sprouts from the mid sections.
The flower in this pocket is from a Bombax ceiba, commonly known as cotton tree. More specifically, it is sometimes known as red silk-cotton, red cotton tree; or as silk-cotton or kapok. The flower lasts only 20-hours.
Licuala peltata var. sumawongii is one of the most ornamental and prized of all palms. It has very large, nearly completely circular, pleated, deep green leaves that are so geometric in shape, they barely look real.
Zombia antillarum, commonly known as the zombie palm, is the only member of the genus Zombia. It is endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles.
The “zombie” term is probably derived from the plant’s scientific name, Zombia antillarum. The palms are firmly rooted into the ground but don’t get too close – the trunk of mature palms are covered with a dense mat of four-inch spines. They are said to have once been used as voodoo doll needles.
Of course, I stopped to admire this gorgeous stag horn fern.
Also included in the garden is a koi pond. Koi or more specifically nishikigoi, are ornamental varieties of domesticated common carp that are kept in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens.
This is a vanda orchid – highly prized for its showy, fragrant, long-lasting, and intensely colorful flowers.
Cyrtostachys renda, also known by the common name, lipstick palm, is a palm that is native to Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. The lipstick palm is generally grown for its brightly colored and unusual foliage.
The Flame Thrower Palm Tree, Chambeyronia macrocarpa, is an exotic palm tree with a bright red leaflet that emerges among dark green feathery fronds and lasts for just about two weeks.
Licuala grandis, the Ruffled Fan Palm, Vanuatu Fan Palm or Palas Palm is a species of palm tree in the Arecaceae family, native to Vanuatu, an island nation in the Pacific. It has glossy, pleated, fan-like fronds and a drooping cluster of red fruits that mature late in the season.
The art sculpture here was made by George Rickey, an American kinetic sculptor with a passion for engineering and mechanics. He designing sculptures whose metal parts moved in response to the various air currents.
This is Pelagodoxa henryana – a species of palm tree, and the only species in the genus Pelagodoxa. It is found only in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, where it is threatened by habitat loss.
A banyan is a fig that begins its life as an epiphyte, a plant that grows on another plant, when its seed germinates in a crack or crevice of a host tree. The leaves of the banyan tree are large, leathery, glossy, green, and elliptical.
Crescentia, calabash tree, huingo, krabasi, or kalebas, is a genus of six species of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. It is native to southern North America, the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America. The species are moderate-size trees growing up to 35-feet tall, and producing large spherical fruits, with a thin, hard shell and soft pulp. The pulp has traditionally been used to help those with respiratory ailments. The hard shells were used to make cups and bowls.
Here is a closer look at a gourd from the calabash tree.
A very rare dwarf Licuala, Licuala mattanensis. renowned for its striking tesselated foliage. It is native to the forests of Sarawak and Kalimantan where it can be found growing in deep shade.
At the end of the tour, I saw this mounted on the side of the greenhouse – a rhino-head. Don’t worry, it is made of plastic and weighs less than a pound. It looks so real.
It was a lovely day and a wonderful garden tour.