Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Botanical Garden in the Tropics

Fort Zachary Taylor was originally built on Key West for the purpose of manning guns to control the harbor. During the Civil War, the fort was held by Federal troops even though most citizens were Confederate sympathizers.  The West Martello Tower is a portion of the fort that was never fully completed.  In 1949, with the structure in decline, the Key West Garden Club took responsibility and developed the site into a beautiful tropical garden and event center.  In 1975, the site was declared a National Historic Site and today, people are welcome to tour the gardens for free.

The garden club attempts to grow any tropical plant, so there are specimens from many countries.  The gardens have meandering pathways through the vegetation and many of the plants are labeled.

The tunnel you see behind me is made of brick and part of the original structure.

This is the rest of the tree I'm standing by above.  It's called a Strangling Fig.

You can still see the gun portals in the walls of the structure

Unfinished walls
The tower was never finished, as you can see here.  The garden club has used the parts of the structure that are finished and preserves the rest as is.

The arched walkway was beautiful.

Interesting to see the interior of the structure walls.

Orchids and various tropical blooms

One thing really surpirsed me and that was the inclusion of so many succulIents and cacti in the gardens.  I've always associated cactus with desert climates, not tropical.

How much tequila could be made from this plant?

This giant could supply all the aloe you'd need in a lifetime, I think.

Brain Cactus
When you looked closely at this, it really does resemble brain matter.

Many of the trees, plants and bushes had edible parts.  

Baby Coconuts
They start out yellow, then turn green, then brown.

Not sure what the hanging down part is, but it was interesting to see.

Many of the recognizable (to me) plants were giant sized.  It makes our house plants that we try to grow seem puny! 

Look at the size of that palm frond!
Pothos is one plant I can't kill, but they never get to be this size!

Limes, anyone?
Even the garden art was super-sized.

Apparently, some trees are not designed to be climbed.  I thought only cactus had this type of protective parts.

Ruffle palm
Those spines are sharp!

Silk Floss Tree
I wouldn't want to try to climb this one, either.

Rain barrel
Being Key West, all the rain barrels were decorated like this one.

We had a great time wandering around the garden, being amazed at the variety and learning the names of some of the trees and plants we had seen on the island.  And since it's free, it's a great way to spend some off-the-beaten-path time in Key West.

Until next time...

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