The gardens themselves looked great, considering the hard winter we had. (I know anyone from the North reading this is snorting their coffee thinking of Florida’s “hard winter,” but truthfully, the landscape here was pretty ravaged.) It’s a pleasure to stroll through the grounds any time, but especially so when booths filled with blooming flowers, herbs, orchids and rare and exotic fruit trees line the walkways. We wandered by the butterfly garden, a newly-installed carnivorous plant area, and a gently tumbling stream.
At the festival (and isn’t “festival” a happy word full of color and music and celebration?), local plant clubs and societies as well as commercial growers from throughout the state sell everything from African violets, orchids, bromeliads and bonsai to bougainvillea, native plants, camellias, tropical fruit trees, palms, carnivorous plants and more. Of course you can purchase plants, but if you have a plant-related question, someone here knows the answer and is happy to share it with you.
I had a list of plants I wanted to buy to replace some of the casualties from our freezing winter, and secretly I hoped to find one or two interesting orchids to add to my ever-growing obsess…—I mean collection. I came home with two orchids, some basil (my seedlings have mysteriously disappeared from their starter flat), chocolate mint, a geranium and a Ptilotus Joey, a plant I’d never heard of before.
Ptolitus Joey is in the back
I would have bought more, but there was just too much to choose from! I’ve discovered that I become paralyzed and unable to make a decision when faced with too much variety, and end up choosing nothing. Sometimes that happens to me in life, too. I have so many interests and responsibilities that I become overwhelmed and instead of partaking of the delicious abundance available, I shut down and do nothing, letting things pile up around me. I retreat into the safety of a book or a TV show, or I do nothing but the menial and unimportant, neglecting the things that are of real value to me.
Perhaps my word of the year should have been “simplify” instead of “open.” But then I would be going against part of my very nature—the part that wants to taste and touch and explore and learn. The trick is finding a way to do it without overwhelming myself—somehow making my way though the garden festival of life without losing myself in its riot of color and scent.