Tropical Botany Class at the Kampong - Coconut Grove, FL July 2013

I started a blog in 2013 recording all of my horticultural adventures throughout south Florida. I have decided to transfer these stories to The Honey Bee & the Hound for interest and back story!

 Boug. sp.

Boug. sp.

“The Course: Tropical Botany is an intensive course of study in the biology and systematics of tropical plants. Subject matter will be largely based on the extensive holdings of tropical vascular plants at Fairchild Tropical Garden, The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Montgomery Botanical Center. These gardens have the largest living collections of tropical plants in the United States. Additionally, field trips will be made to the Florida Everglades, the Florida Keys, and adjacent natural areas. The natural vegetation of South Florida, which includes littoral and dry land habitats, mixed tropical hardwood hammocks, pinelands, and mangrove communities, will introduce students to the diversity of tropical vegetation. The object of the course is to provide advanced students and/or professionals with a detailed coverage of the systematics, phylogeny, diversity of structure, and economic botany of tropical vascular plants.”
“”The Kampong”, a Malay or Japanese word for a cluster of houses, a settlement or a village, was applied by Dr. David Fairchild to his new home in Florida in 1916. The property is almost ten acres in extent, bordered on the west by Douglas Road and on the east by Biscayne Bay. It is located approximately one mile from the center of Coconut Grove. On this property, Dr. Fairchild (while Chief of the Seed and Plant Introduction Section of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) introduced and grew many tropical plants which he collected during his plant explorations….. Many famous people, as well as noted horticulturists, have visited The Kampong over the years. They include Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell (Dr. Fairchild’s father-in-law), Elmer D. Merrill, Barbour Lothrop, Wilson Popenoe, and, in the Sweeny’s time, Richard Leakey, Thomas Hoving of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Dr. Donald Johanson, discoverer of the famous “Lucy” skeleton. When visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell stayed in the old guava jelly factory, which was turned into a guest house but later destroyed in a hurricane. While at the Kampong, Bell invented a simple method of extracting distilled water from sea water using solar energy. This device remains intact, in its original location….. Local garden clubs, students, and other horticulturally-oriented groups in the South Florida area visit the Kampong frequently. The Kampong remains a living monument to the often little-appreciated achievements of its primary architects – Dr. David Fairchild and Dr. Catherine Sweeny…. Mrs. Sweeney has gifted this property to the Pacific Tropical Garden in Kauai, Hawaii, but has retained a life estate of the Kampong.” Larry Schokman July 1985
 The amazing entrance to the Kampong!

The amazing entrance to the Kampong!

 The student dormitory at the Kampong

The student dormitory at the Kampong

 The student growing area behind our dorms

The student growing area behind our dorms

 A view of the classroom/lecture hall, Kampong

A view of the classroom/lecture hall, Kampong

 Walking out to the point on Biscayne Bay...

Walking out to the point on Biscayne Bay...

 The beautiful view from the point!

The beautiful view from the point!

 The succulent section (near the water - salt tolerant)

The succulent section (near the water - salt tolerant)

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 Amazing root systems from the old trees around the Kampong

Amazing root systems from the old trees around the Kampong

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 These two photos are of the Lotus lily pad. Nympidacea. The rhizome breathes in mud and can be eaten – seen often in Asian cooking. The seeds have a large embryo, and the rhizome is spongey. This plant is seen in Eastern North America.  The amazing fact of the Lotus seeds is that they live up to 1,000 years, second longest to live next to Palms. There is a 100% germination rate after 50 years.

These two photos are of the Lotus lily pad. Nympidacea. The rhizome breathes in mud and can be eaten – seen often in Asian cooking. The seeds have a large embryo, and the rhizome is spongey. This plant is seen in Eastern North America.

The amazing fact of the Lotus seeds is that they live up to 1,000 years, second longest to live next to Palms. There is a 100% germination rate after 50 years.

 Beautiful water gardens at the Kampong

Beautiful water gardens at the Kampong

 “Cannonball Tree” Couroupita guianensis

“Cannonball Tree” Couroupita guianensis

 A slightly hollow tree...

A slightly hollow tree...

 An orchid-filled tree outside of my window

An orchid-filled tree outside of my window

 Sugar Loaf tree

Sugar Loaf tree

For my day at the Kampong, Dr. Walt Judd focused the lecture on Eudicots.The families of eudicots are Superrosidae: Saxifragales and Rosidae and Superasteridae: Asteridae, Santalales, Caryoph, and the big focus on Caryophyllales.

We learned that there is a protein crystalloid with a protein plastid in Caryophyllales – the plastids have starch. We learned to look for red and yellow pigments which are Nitrogen called Betalains. We also learned to look for one whirl of tepals (staminedaea turn into petals). And lastly, we look for succulents and salt tolerant plants.

My favorite plants to study during the day were the Lotus, the Bougainvillea, succulents, Cactaceae, and Nepenthaceae (carnivorous pitcher plant from the ancient tropics).

When dissecting the Bougainvillea, we look for 1. fused tepals 2. colorful bracks 3. last of the raphide class.

Succulents: 1. bladder cells – water holding 2. 4-5 sepals 3. seemingly numerous petals BUT actually many stamens and petals are leaves 4. leaves are placed oppositely.

Cactaceae: 1. long shoot with photosynthetic leaves 2. short shoots with spines 3. numerous tepals and stamens (more than 5) 4. flower leaves on outside of ovary, making it both an ovary and a stamen. There is much variation within this genus.

Nepenthaceae: 1. This is the most complicated leaf of any angiosperm 2. secretes digestive enzymes 3. ring of stamens fused together 4. staminate flowers

 

We spent the morning at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens collecting plant material to bring back to the Kampong to dissect and study under the microscopes.

 Nepenthes pitcher plant, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden rare plant conservatory

Nepenthes pitcher plant, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden rare plant conservatory

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 This staghorn is by far my favorite!

This staghorn is by far my favorite!

 Chihuly glass with matching fish in the rare plant conservatory

Chihuly glass with matching fish in the rare plant conservatory

 The yellow Royal Poinciana!

The yellow Royal Poinciana!

 Chihuly glass at the entrance of Fairchild Tropical BG

Chihuly glass at the entrance of Fairchild Tropical BG

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 Who would have thought that this plant is in the grape family?!

Who would have thought that this plant is in the grape family?!

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 The most relaxing and calming view in the entire gardens, in my opinion!

The most relaxing and calming view in the entire gardens, in my opinion!

 Tropical Botany students hanging out!

Tropical Botany students hanging out!

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 Rainbow Eucalyptus tree, my absolute favorite!

Rainbow Eucalyptus tree, my absolute favorite!

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 Orchids being established in the trees and throughout the grounds to imitate their natural habitat

Orchids being established in the trees and throughout the grounds to imitate their natural habitat

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 I always manage to find a new furry friend along the way!

I always manage to find a new furry friend along the way!

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And on to an afternoon of dissecting and studying plant flowers!

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 A whole room dedicated to our plant cuttings from the morning at FTBG

A whole room dedicated to our plant cuttings from the morning at FTBG

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 Photos of the dissected plants under the microscope

Photos of the dissected plants under the microscope

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#fieldtovase

#fieldtovase was started by the woman who created FarmGirl Flowers. She is a flower creative genius and she wholeheartedly believes in the American flower movement. 

Field to vase is an excellent space to write and share stories about locally growing flowers and finding avenues to sell them to the local public. 

It is refreshing to think of a simple act of cutting flowers and putting them in a vase on your table to enjoy. The majority of the time, though, this act is anything but simple. Usually your flowers have been cut in the field, put in a cooler for a week or so, sold to a wholesale or florist, re-cut, re-stored in a cooler/fridge, made up into an arrangement and finally sold for you to enjoy. 

Let's bring back the simplicity every once in a while!

#Farmer-Florist

       This week’s hashtag will be focused on #farmerflorist. This seems a bit self-explanatory but of course I can always find a way to go into more detail! As any farmer of a crop, one gets a sense of knowing their crop better than anyone else. With flowers it is no different. The exception is that I grow many different varieties of each specimen and many different genera at once – with a field over more than 50,000 flowers. I still feel that I know my flowers better than anyone else, as most (flower) farmers do – which is why we choose to be the florist as well. Why should we not cut our crops and arrange them for sale? We see the different styles to arrange flowers in, but there is nothing like seeing the way that they grow naturally, and how good they look with a different flower right behind them growing in the same field. It has taught me that any and all flower combinations can look good together, especially if they can be grown at the same time in the same conditions, they are linked. Another consideration is the fact that when we are cutting our flowers, we realize that the tight, formal arrangements seem unnatural after seeing them grouped together in buckets out in the field. I have been inspired to arrange my flowers in a loose, natural, farm-fresh look and I will never be able to arrange my flowers in another style. That is certainly not to say that there haven't been same very talented floral designers who have worked my flowers into some out-of-this-world designs – it’s just to say that this is the way that I see my flowers looking best when they go out of the field and are being delivered to you!
       The farmer-florist is not where our duties end, either. We are the buyer of seeds and bulbs, the farmer, the florist and the wholesaler. We do it all! The stigma behind the word farmer is one that doesn't leave room for people to think of all of the sides of their business – but trust me I have learned to have a whole new level of respect for what farmers are capable of doing – and my little flower field barely reaches the scale of many. So, when you are out and about, shopping around and hoping for something unique and creative, don’t forget to ask the farmer themselves for exactly what you are looking for because remember: we bought it, we planted and grew it, we cut it, they can arrange it and we can sell it too!

 

#seasonalfloweralliance

  Photo credit: Renee C. Gage Photography

Photo credit: Renee C. Gage Photography

    Summer has officially come to a close and now the fall/winter mindset is here. For some in Corpus Christi, these thoughts seem laughable due to the consistent high temperatures, but for the avid gardeners, we know that more than temperature we are thinking of day lengths and sun levels. With even the most mild-weathered winter season, the day length will shorten to less than twelve hours of sunlight which is what affects the blooming and stem lengths of the flowers that we grow. While I have been busy nursing my summer flowers through the highest temperatures of the season, I have also been planning, prepping and scheduling next season's plantings.

    The Honey Bee & the Hound is currently very focused on our first-ever flower share that we advertised as a CSA purchase (Community Supported Agriculture.) With the flower share selling out so quickly and way surpassing our expectations, we sure did feel supported by our community! We cannot stop saying 'thank you' to these wonderful customers! While the next six weeks will be spent staying focused on regular business around the farm, flower share subscriptions and planning for the next planting season, I would love to walk through some of the regularly used hashtags and social media messages that are seen associated with locally grown flowers so that those who are outside of the flower farming world may have a new look inside of the meaning and the passion behind what flower farmers do. All too often I see hashtags used in a meaningless way - words so often are - especially when fads are trending. For someone like me who is so very passionate about the work that I do, I would at least like the chance to offer some education behind the words that I choose to associate with what I do - because they absolutely do mean something to me. And I would love nothing more than to have someone learn what a hashtag or saying means, and then find a way to make it relevent in their life as well!

  Photo credit: Renee C. Gage Photography

Photo credit: Renee C. Gage Photography

   The first hashtag that I would like to address is #seasonalfloweralliance. The Seasonal Flower Alliance is simply the act of the public supporting the flowers that grow seasonally in their community. This holds strongly when florists and designers order in anemones, ranunculus or delphiniums in June, July or August. We hope that by educating those in our community about what grows during each season, then the public can follow suit by educating the brides and party planners alike about their choice to support the seasonal flower alliance by decorating only with flowers that grow seasonally in south Texas. If you love where you live, embrace what lives in the place that you love! You see, the choice to have locally grown flowers is much more than simply supporting a community member who farms flowers, saving money or supporting the locally grown movement, it is much more about what could possibly be happening at the farms in the other countries who sell their flowers to the United States via wholesale imports. These farms are known for having a history of child labor used in their flower fields, they have different pesticide chemical spraying regimens and their flowers are hand-dipped in preservatives before they are packaged up to be put on an airplane to be shipped here. The flowers from the central and south American countries are shipped into Miami where they are then put on other airplanes to be dropped around the country in large, regional, wholesale warehouses, then they are put on vans and trucks and driven to the smaller wholesalers in counties around your state. As I have said before, the carbon footprint on this green industry is disturbing! But even more disturbing is to think of what has been sprayed on your flowers that you so often hold to your face to smell, and even more so, who has been cutting, de-foliating and hauling your flowers around the field.

  Photo credit: Renee C. Gage Photography

Photo credit: Renee C. Gage Photography

   In some parts of the U.S.A., farmers choose to only run seasonally during the warm temperatures. Other farms put up greenhouse/hoop houses/low tunnels to extend their season into the winters. Everywhere you look, you have a choice to seek out the seasonal flowers no matter where you are located. 

 

    

Summer for The Honey Bee & the Hound

   Summer in Corpus Christi was most likely not the best time to begin planting our gardens. After acquiring the vacant lot in mid-April, by the time it got fully planted, the rains began in May. It rained for days! And the seeds sprouted, but had been washed completely away from our designated growing rows. 

   My Grandmother, Eleanor, passed away peacefully in May after her six year battle with cancer. Chris and I went home to Pennsylvania for a week to spend time with the family. 

   When we returned to south Texas, I began planting seeds while thinking of my Grandmother and what an incredibly talented gardener she was. I was searching for seeds of flowers that she always had in her gardens and I began growing them so that I could see something to allow me reflect on the beautiful memories I have of her. 

   After a very late start to planting, I began harvesting flowers from the lot by the second week of July. Since regularly harvesting, the second half of the lot has also been planted to 100% capacity. In the next month we can expect sunflowers, new varieties of celosia, amaranth, cosmos and a few other surprises for your bouquets!

 

   At the end of September we are beginning our first CSA offer which will be such a fun treat to share the gorgeous fall flowers and edibles that come from our patch of land. 

Meet The Hound

 Hello all! This first post will be in honor of the hound of "The Honeybee and the Hound."
 

 How could anyone not love this face!?

How could anyone not love this face!?

   It is May of 2010 and I am driving from Waco, Texas to Carmichaels, Pennsylvania. Smokey the hound was lying in a ditch in the median of the interstate in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee: He was just a puppy, only four or five months old. My best guess was that Smokey was bred to be a hunting dog and after the first few training sessions, it was discovered that he was not cut out for it. Apparently he either did not have a sniffer good enough to get him back home, or his breeder cut him loose. When I first saw him he darted across three lanes of traffic, right under the wheels of a tractor trailer truck, and got thrown into the median. I immediately pulled over when I realized that nobody else was going to stop. His face looked like ground beef and his front leg was surely broken. I needed to get him to a vet ASAP! Did I mention that it was 8:30pm on a Friday night?
   

 My two loves - I must have a thing for bays!

My two loves - I must have a thing for bays!

   We were lucky to find a vet who had an office at his home who was willing to see us. The doctor was kind enough to give us a free exam and fix up if I was willing to give this dog a home. I had just finished my freshman year at Baylor University and was unsure if I would be living in the dorms next year or not - I guess this fate of meeting Smokey decided that for me.  I said yes without any hesitation -Smokey got all patched up and we were back on the road together to drive home to the family farm in Southwestern Pennsylvania.   
 

 Enjoying some time in Southwestern PA at Blomster Field Farm

Enjoying some time in Southwestern PA at Blomster Field Farm

 He is pretty good at getting comfortable

He is pretty good at getting comfortable

   The next six months was dedicated to Smokey getting mended and the bond between us became so strong that he was declared my best friend. Suddenly, I did not know how I would ever live without him by my side! Every Wednesday afternoon was dedicated to hiking (off leash - what fun!!) in Cameron Park followed by us sharing an ice cream cone. It was our thing. And it made us so happy! On one particular hike, Smokey went rogue and decided to take himself for a swim in the Brazos! Oh, that moment brought me so much joy. Seeing him happy made me happy and that was all there was to it. After we got home, Smokey went straight to the bath tub knowing full well he needed a scrub down. During this bath I discovered a red, raised lump on his stomach. I told myself it was a million things from a bug bite to just a scratch from his playing at the park. Two weeks later it had grown even bigger. I took Smokey to the vet and the news was not good - it was a mast cell tumor that needed to be removed immediately. Smokey's surgery went without any issue - he lost twenty-two square inches of skin! This hound with joules and rolls suddenly had an instant tummy tuck! Back to mending him I went... This time, with the vet's warning of needing a very healthy diet as apparently hounds are predisposed to getting mast cell tumors. I went straight to the book store and bought a book on healthy dog foods. Smokey is now fed a home-made healthy meatloaf for breakfast every single day.

 

 Enjoying our shared passion of gardening

Enjoying our shared passion of gardening

 Smokey enjoying the Texas bluebonnets

Smokey enjoying the Texas bluebonnets

   Fast forward to Smokey and I graduating from Baylor in May of 2013 - what an accomplishment! I can honestly say that college would have been a real struggle without having a four legged best friend to keep me company through the good times and through finals! I was also a Division 1 athlete on the varsity equestrian team at Baylor which kept me just as busy as my classes did. Smokey was the best roommate to have because his extremely laid back personality allowed for my schedule to change often. He did not mind if dinner was late or if he did not get as long of a walk that afternoon - he was so content to sleep all day - I mean ALL DAY! Smokey was quite famous around the Baylor campus as well. My parents joked that when they would come to visit, more people knew his name than mine - as funny as it is -- it was true! How could you not love a semi-narcoleptic hound dog?


  After graduating from Baylor, Smokey and I moved to Naples, Florida to do an internship at the Naples Botanical Garden. We were there for the summer enjoying the wildlife, the beautiful weather and the beaches. It was a different schedule for us to adjust from me coming home in between classes to hang out with him to me being gone all day (having a "real" job,) but we managed to adjust quickly. When I was not at the garden, Smokey and I were discovering our new town together.Hiking behind our house

 Visiting me at the Naples Botanical Garden

Visiting me at the Naples Botanical Garden

 Smokey at Naples Beach

Smokey at Naples Beach

 Hiking behind our house in Naples, Florida

Hiking behind our house in Naples, Florida

 He is a better skilled sailor than he appears

He is a better skilled sailor than he appears


   Then the hard part came along - I moved to London, England to do an internship at Kew, Royal Botanical Gardens. I debated for so long if I should bring Smokey with me or not. Technically, I could make the trip without him being quarantined (if everything went without a hitch), but quarantine would mean weeks or even months of him being detained - so all in all the risk was not worth it. Also because finding a flat to rent for a few months that would not mind a dog turned out to also be a challenge. So for the next four months the hound lived at Blomster Field Farm, the family farm in Pennsylvania,. My Mom made it possible for me to Skype with Smokey almost weekly - I could see that he was very happy to be running freely on almost two hundred acres of land. But I sure did miss my hound.

 

 Smokey & I reunited!!!

Smokey & I reunited!!!

 Smokey was so happy when we found the perfect guy to join our family!

Smokey was so happy when we found the perfect guy to join our family!

 Smokey & Chris visiting me at the orchid house

Smokey & Chris visiting me at the orchid house


   Upon my return to the states, back to Florida we moved! We were living the dream! I met the man of my dreams and we got engaged at the end of the year. Then, a few months later, his job as a Coast Guard aviator had us relocating to Corpus Christi, Texas. We bought our first house with a big, beautiful backyard (for gardening!!!) and we got married at the end of the next summer on Labor Day weekend at my family farm in PA. Smokey walked down the aisle with the ring-bearers and stood (Who am I kidding? He slept...)  next to the best man for the ceremony and my childhood horse walked down the aisle with my bridesmaids and equestrian teammates. Life could not get much better! 

 

 

 Still awake at this point during the wedding ceremony

Still awake at this point during the wedding ceremony

 So our lives are starting in South Texas. With Smokey by my side (as always) we are going to start our cut flower farm! Please join us as we start this adventure!

 My best friend

My best friend

 

     I wrote this blog January 1, 2016 on a different platform which is why I am re-sharing it now. SO MUCH has happened since this first blog and I am so looking forward to catching you up with all of the news since then through each blog post hereafter.