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Sunken Gardens

I put the short one on a plane in Tampa this morning and on the way back detoured a bit to see Sunken Gardens, a 100-year-old commercial botanic garden. It is called "sunken" because it was established in the bottom of a drained lake, somewhat below grade.

I have no idea how one drains a lake, especially in Florida.

Most commercial gardens, I've found, are pretty dreadful. Sunken Gardens may be a cut above, kind of on a par with Cypress Gardens, but without the Belles and ski boats and cotton candy.

I found most of the specimens--with the exception of two very nice spindle palms and a historic live oak [that was high on the gardens' bank and probably predates it]--rather ordinary. There was also a nice Bismarckia palm, but it was no more than 15 years old.

What impressed me most about the place, I think, was the labeling. They have made good effort to label plants with botanic as well as common names and for some plants, such as the spindle palms, provide a bit of geopolitical information--about cold hardiness, natural distribution, and how they have become all but extinct in the wild.

I also learned that logs of the sapodilla tree were used as rafters by Mayans and they [the rafters] are still sound. The sapodilla, for those who do not recognize it, is the tree whose sap is chicle, the gum that made Mr. Wriggly rich.

Island Jim Southwest Florida Zone 10

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