Thursday, January 1, 2015

Grateful Guests and TYUP Attendees to Finish 2014

Small spaces are the rage these days. It seems that every gardening and architecture magazine has featured innovative ways to design and be comfortable in small spaces; from using raised beds and vertical gardening techniques to repurposing items like shipping containers into homes. Stores like IKEA have made huge headway into American markets and while promoting our seemingly endless desire for goods, have also shown us ways to do more with less, capitalizing on this European tradition.

And that is exactly what we do here at the Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort!

When I first visited the Gardens last spring, I was very curious how they were laid out on less than 2 acres of property. Coming from a larger botanical garden (at the time I was fresh out of 83 acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables) I was used to sprawling grounds and long rambles between the collections looking for plants. There is even a tram tour to give visitors an overview of the entire property! While that garden is extensive and beautiful, our Gardens are also beautiful, packed with variety and easy to navigate during our botanist-led TYUP* tour.

During Christmas week, I had a family of 10 book my TYUP and they were delighted at how many plants we have in our Gardens. The patriarch of the family, a long-time volunteer at Fairchild, commented that our collections were very easy to see during the tour and that some of our plants, our cycads in particular, looked very healthy and happy. I was shining with pride! What a great compliment to end the year with.

We do our best to have a good diversity of plants with the limited space we have to work with – remember we are part of a resort and the buildings take up real estate. However, we have managed to collect over 360 plant species, cultivars and hybrids including 25 edible tropical fruits, over 20 Florida Keys natives, 38 species of palms, and 15 bamboo specimens. Not bad for less than 2 acres! We are busy adding more this year so come down to visit and see for yourself how we maximize our space.

*Transforming Your Understanding of Plants tour – see this blog here.

Dioon mejiae, Honduran dioon, a cycad native to Honduras and Nicaragua [Zamiaceae]

Annona squamosa, sugar-apple, a fruit of the tropical Americas and West Indies [Annonaceae]

Byrsonima lucida, Locustberry, a south Florida native [Malpighiaceae]