Monday, April 30, 2007

The Park Across the Street

This little park is across from our house. About 10 years ago this 175 by 200 foot plot of land was offered for sale. A realtor bought it and gave it to the city for a pocket park. Now he has his name on two stone signs to let all who pass by that he gave us the park. Can you think of an easier way to advertise your name? I still think of it as the empty lot across the street.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Den. superbum

The warm winter changed the way this orchid flowered. Instead of blooming all at once it bloomed two or three times this spring. The total of flowers did not add up to one big normal show.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Granada Golf Course

This course is owned by the city and it is open to all golfers. Members of the country club have first choice. The club has tennis courts, gym and a pool for members. The club also has multiple dinning and meeting rooms for small groups to very large groups. The huge Ficus trees along the fairways have survived many hurricanes. The dormant tree is a poinciana and when it blooms I will retake this picture.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Coral Gables Country Club

The country club was built when the city was just beginning. For the first few years of the Coral Gables existence membership was free to owners of houses in the city. When we joined the yearly bill was $500 a year and it was open to everyone. It has now been rebuilt and is competing with the more exclusive clubs.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Merrick House Grotto

LinkThe grotto has recently been refurbished. This is just a snippet of the original grotto. The original was ten times larger before 90% was demolished when a 100 by 125 foot portion of land was sold. I have seen pictures of the original and I assure you that bigger is not always better. Here is another view of today's grotto.
This house is 100 feet to the east of our home. We are lucky to live in an area that has so much to enjoy, especially for a plant hound like me. Here are some pictures from our immediate area of Coral Gables. No picture in this album is further from our house then 2 blocks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Water Tower

This water tower was built in the 20's to serve the water needs of Coral Gables. No metal sphere in the sky for our city, it must have some pizazz. Most of my life it was just an unused ornament. But the upkeep has proven to be expensive. It's one more icon that we plan to keep. A few minutes after I took the next picture, the descending sun was casting a wash of gold on the tower.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why Not

Why Not is the name of this orchid and it blooms 12 months out of the year. I can't attribute it to spring. I grow some of Why Nots on trees. It makes for a very nice jungle.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A tunnel of Ficus

The Biltmoore is at the end of this street. I live on a street that has an oak tunnel, and two blocks down an intersecting street has this tunnel of Ficus. None of these trees fell over in the last three hurricanes (one of the oaks on our street fell over). Here is another view of the trees.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cassia bakeriana

With a life time of gardening every day is Earth Day to me. I passed this tree for a week or two just enjoying the beauty. I was most surprised that the tree appeared untouched by hurricanes. When it matures it will be more dense. The common name is dwarf apple blossom tree, Look at the closeup, you will see the beauty of the flower and notice that the stamen is very long. The flowers last longer apple bloom.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Desoto Fountain

This fountain was built in the 20's and is being repaired. It's in the middle of a 3 street intersection. The north south street has the right away, and the other streets should yield. Unfortunately many people think it's a roundabout. Now with only one lane around the fountain it has turned into a roundabout, but the stop signs are still there. User be aware! Notice the Biltmore in in the background.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wine Cups

In the spring most of us have some wild flowers that identify our surroundings. Wine cups grow in the Florida Keys and these are in our back yard of our keys house. They grow right next to the salt water. The wind was constant when I took this picture - this is the best of maybe 6 tries. They are in the Gentian family and I would call it the poor mans Lisianthus. Since the prefix 'mc' alludes to large and over the top, I would call Lisianthus a Mcflower. Go to:
to see a mcflower. I have grown Lisianthus in Coral Gables and Key Largo. I haven't been able to grow the wine cups in the city.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another Mcmansion

This 5 bedroom 4 bath was a beauty. I knew the inside of the house and thought it to be a keeper. Now when people buy a home for such high prices they have to improve it to the point of lousing the essence of the original. This home is doubling in size. and size has nothing to do with beauty. We fear that when we sell our house it will be gentrified. This is a dilemma for us. Do we rebuild some of the wood floors that squeak or do we let the new owner tear it down. We have been in our house for 40 years and love every quirk and hope to have it for 10 or so more years to enjoy them. Big doesn't mean better, nor does new mean better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A park for toddlers

Our city is full of little parks, but I can only think of two that are for the little ones. I captured the Cuban Anole picture (April 15) on a tree next to this park. The trees lining the streets in this area look like a jungle.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Ficus Puzzle

In yesterdays picture you will see a pond and fountain in the courtyard. That pond was the home of a very large tree. It was too big to move and too good to destroy. The city cut the multiple trunks apart and carried it piece by piece to a better location. The puzzle was put together next to the tennis courts (about a block away). Now you can't see were the puzzle parts connected.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Old Biltmore Country Club

The original Biltmore had a full fledged country club. This gave the local people a chance to enjoy the good life. The golf course had 36 holes. This set up did not make a profit. Half of the golf course was sold off and the country club was closed. In the early 40's the government took over the remaining property. It was turned into a military hospital, then the University of Miami started the medical school along with the V.A. hospital. When the university and the V.A. vacated the Federal government gave it to our city for one dollar. This gift cost Coral Gables $500,000 yearly just to keep it closed. It was almost demolished. But now it is back to the original glory. In the middle of the courtyard above there was a large rubber tree, tomorrow I will show you what happened to that tree.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Anolis equestris equestris - Western Knight Anole

We live in a jungle. This Cuban Anole juvenile can get to be 24 inches long . This lizard is new to Florida. It came here about 40 years ago. It will eat anything moving that will fit into it's mouth. We are lucky because most of what it eats wasn't anything that we wanted. Another specie, not native, looks like a dragon at 4 to 5 feet and has colonized about 6 miles south of us. They are a real problem because the eat only plants and that means garden plants.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Flowers Again

By now most viewers realize that I am very interested in local horticulture. This flower could be called a chameleon, Every time it blooms it looks different. To see the changes go to :
Scroll down the page and compare the flowers of 'sp4'.

Friday, April 13, 2007

University of Miami School of Medicine Founded 1952

Housed in the servants' quarters of the Biltmore Hotel, this location functioned as the primary teaching site for the University's medical students until 1969.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Biltmore - front entrance

The fountain is nice but in the 30's and 40's it had more meaning. Back then everyone came to south Florida to be in a hotel by the ocean. People would write to to their friends and say it was warm and their hotel was by the water. No one asked if it was an ocean or a pool. An as for temperatures, we do on rare occasions get a little cold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Biltmore pool

Can it get any better?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Biltmore wall

The big pool is behind this wall.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Happy Easter Monday

I don't know all of the areas that make this a holiday, but it sounds good to me. We learned of this extra holiday from our European exchange students. Thus I am posting one more white flower from my garden. This orchid has a fancy name, C. skinneri 'Lizzie' AM/AOS, and it's as white as any Easter lily.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Coral Gables Congregational Church Tower

This church is very liberal and invites all people of faith. Unfortunately many people think that the only other people of faith are people of their faith. For me, the tower is pointing up. On this Easter morn I wish you all to be optimists.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Coral Gables Congregational Church

The founder of Coral Gables, George Merrick was born in Massachusetts. His father Salomon, a Congregational minister, moved the family to south Florida, due to George's poor health. The family prospered with a fruit plantation west of Miami. When George was designing Coral Gables he set aside land for parks, the University of Miami and churches. The Congregational Church has a beautiful location across form the Biltmore. The interior of this church gives one a serenity that would move a person, no mater what their faith might be.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Coral Gables Congregational Church and the Biltmore

For holy week, an up scale hotel and an up scale church. I walked over to this site yesterday and every were I looked there was a beautiful picture. Going by such buildings every day we sometimes lose our appreciation of there beauty and there meaning. May I greet you from my background.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Great White Heron

This is the white phase of the great blue heron, found only in Florida. Its is truly beautiful but I can do without this one. This bird started eating the neighbors goldfish from their front yard pond. I noticed the bird and called the neighbor. The bird was scared away, unfortunately it came to our back yard pond. For over a week we scared it from one pond to the other. The bird stayed until all of the fish were gone. I had a collection of cichlids that I miss more the that rare bird.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Flowers of Spring - Clerodendrum x speciosum

This vine has been blooming since December. It's blooming now and surely makes the yard look like Spring. By now you must realize that I am an avid gardener. Take a look around my garden.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Ficus 'Dumberton'

This ficus is known for its finned roots. The roots have overtaken the sidewalk and now it's going for the wall, These trees line the street just south of us (for about 5 blocks). It looks like it belongs in the jungle.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Built in 1924

This old house is across the street from the Venetian Pool. About 15 years ago the owner added a two story addition to the back of the house. It blended perfectly with the original house. Five years ago the house was sold and renovation was started. The old part had some termite damage and a passerby could watch as timbers and walls were removed. After many months there was little left except the newer addition. Then it came down. this treasure was lost. But the Phoenix appeared. The new home has all of the feeling and looks of the original. In fact I like it better then the original.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Same pool - opposite side

As soon as we could swim, we went to the two caves on the far side. There was a ledge at the back of both caves and we sat there nearly up to our heads remember we were shorter then. The caves were connected by an underwater connection. I don't think that you can use them today, seems they were too dangerous. The high dive is now a waterfall. When I was a teenager a diver hit a friend head to head, and both received concussions. Check to see that converted high dive.