Florida: Chester’s Winter Annex

Florida: Chester’s Winter Annex

Mid-way through winter,  members of the Chester Garden Club occasionally seek refuge in the warmer climes of countries to the south of us.  Holiday locations range from the Caribbean to Patagonia but, by percentage, the favourite destination is Florida.

A garden in the sub-tropical climate of Naples lifts the spirits of northerners who have been longing for a touch of warmth.

A Flame of the Forest tree makes a stunning display with its coral-coloured blossoms bursting from black pods against a blue sky.  

Walking under a banana tree makes a nice change from driving on icy roads.

A visit to Naples Botanical Garden – gardens with latitude – had a bonus feature on this trip, when we had the opportunity to view a large number of original sculptures from Zimbabwe that had been placed in strategic settings around the grounds.

The beautifully sculpted bust above was found in the midst of a Floridian meadow garden. An added feature was the coincidental appearance of an anole (a genus of lizards) surveying its surroundings from the top of the sculpted head.  Below, we show two anoles in a stand-off on the bark of a cabbage palm. The green one is a native Florida lizard and the brown is a Cuban anole.

Like all the sculptures on display, the mermaid resting at the top of a reflecting pool was done using only hand tools.  Most of the pieces were carved and chiselled from varieties of Serpentine stone (in the case of the “mermaid”, it was Springstone). The  finishing process involves sanding the piece in water for hours. To get a high polish, the artist then heats the stone, which expands the pores of the object, and applies a coating of floor wax.  Once the stone is cool it is buffed to give the artwork a high gleam.

The yellow blooms on a Buttercup Tree were just beginning to open in early March.  Bird-watching, concert-going, and morning walks on the ‘crowded’ beach  were all part of  the agenda. 

Sometimes, it was difficult to remember to relax, but an un-named member of Chester Garden Club found time to do just that after a swim in the warm ocean waters, when she found a hammock beckoning to her.

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