As I entered the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, the sweet, intoxicating scent of jasmine greeted me. Friends were waiting for me at the exhibit, and I was glad they came out to see the art and to show support. Farmer Margie and her husband Nick took turns taking pictures of me with my pictures, and it felt like paparazzi. Now I know what it’s like on the other side of the lens! Margie pointed out that the picture Firebush was hanging right below the sign that said FIRE extinguisher. Hmmm, seems like the people who were hanging the art have a sense of humor, I like that. Robert the Cantankerous Chef also came, and was discussing what kind of caterpillar that was. He thinks it’s a zebra Gulf Fritillary butterfly, and Margie thinks it might be a brown orange julia. [Both caterpillars are quite similar in appearance and both are natives, according to Margie, who looked these things up. Thanks for the fact checking!]
Claire Tomlin of The Market Company (whom I’ve met at the South Florida Farmers Market) provided veggie snacks, and Schnebleys brought a variety of fruit wines. I sampled the avocado wine, and it’s similar to pinot grigio with a whiff of avocado, and it’s actually pretty good. Heard the lychee wine (my favorite) ran out fairly quickly. Hung out till the very end with my friend photographer Mark Diamond, waiting to hear the announcements of the winning artists, including audience choice, but neither us of won anything. Thanks for your votes, it’s all good. I’m glad to be in the show, and hope that more shows are to come.
The pictures look a lot better in person, so if you haven’t seen them and you’re in the area, stop in and take a look for yourself. The show is up for only this week. I’m coming by on Saturday afternoon to pick them up — unless you want to take them home with you…? Let me know…
Botanist Steven Woodmansee wrote about the plants depicted in the art works. Here’s what he wrote about my pieces, which was posted on a card next to them.
1. Beautyberry - This photograph depicts one of our showier native flowering plants. American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), and its leaves are aromatic when crushed, although it is not recommended for culinary practices.
However, the clusters of purple fruit do attract birds, especially mockingbirds, who will defend “their” plant from other encroaching birds. It is native to upland habitats including pinelands and hammocks, and prefers full sun. Branches may be clipped, and used in flower arrangements, as they last several days. In cultivation, it is best to cutback the plant to one third its size at least once a year. It is native throughout Florida and portions of the southeastern United States.
2. Firebush – (Hamelia patens) is a member of the coffee plant family (Rubiaceae). The showy tubular red flowers attract a plethora of butterflies and hummingbirds (and in this photo, a honey bee). A favorite for the butterfly garden, firebush flowers year ’round, and grows well in partial shade.
Its fruits are devoured by birds. It is recommended that for a bushy appearance and longevity, plants be cut back to one third its size at least once per year. This species is a must for any Florida yard. It is native across most of peninsular Florida where it can be found in swamps and hammocks.