This Charming Small Town in Florida Touts the Largest Tropical Bonsai Garden in North America

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Heathcote Botanical Gardens, located in Fort Pierce, Florida, is home to the largest permanent public display of tropical bonsai trees in North America. Here, visitors will be enthralled that such a small, charming coastal town can deliver such a big bonsai statement.

There are 30 different  species of bonsai represented in the 10,000 square foot James J. Smith Bonsai Gallery with more than 100 trees ranging from a Silver Buttonwood bonsai, estimated to be 200 years old, to a unique, twin-trunk Jaboticaba bonsai. All of the bonsai trees are native to the region and have come from the Bahamas, Brazil and Madagascar. The trees are displayed on pedestals made from Florida cap rock that has been quarried from Okeechobee, just 30 minutes inland from Fort Pierce.

For the second year in a row, Heathcote’s Tiger Bark Ficus Bonsai, also known as the Golden Gate Ficus, will be featured at Disney…

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Kei apple, Dovyalis caffra. Featured tree at Towerkop Nursery.

Towerkop Nursery

Bonsai of the kei apple. An evergreen tree up to about 3-5 m in nature. Native to South africa. Bears yellow fruit which is edible if not somewhat tart. Grown as a hedge it forms an impenetrable barrier because of it’s fierce thorns.

Birds subsequently build nests in it’s protective thicket of thorns.

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Sour fig (Carpobrotus acinaciformis). Featured plant at Towerkop Nursery.

Towerkop Nursery

Sour fig Sour fig

Carpobrotus acinaciformis (Sour fig, Suurvy)

The name is derived from the Greek words karpos (fruit) and brota (edible). The common names suurvy and sour fig are widely used. (1)

This fleshy succulent is a perennial mat-like creeper. The large purple flowers develop into a fragrant fleshy sour-sweet friut often sold on street markets in the Cape. The fruit is used in jams and curry dishes. The leaf juice is said to be mildly antiseptic and highly astringent, traditionally gargled to treat infections of the mouth and throat. (2)

The more common Carpobrotus edulis (yellow flowers) originally occurred in sandy areas in the western, southern and eastern cape but it is now commonly grown in many parts of the world often as a ground cover to stabilize banks. C. acinaciformis has a restricted distribution and is more or less confined to the Western Cape. (2)

Species of Carpobrotus flower…

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Delosperma echinatum. Feature plant at Towerkop Nursery.

Towerkop Nursery

Low growing shrubby succulent with conspicuously hairy leaves and small yellow flowers.

The name Delosperma is derived from the greek for visible seed, in allusion to the fact that the capsules have no covering membranes so the seeds are exposed when the capsules are open.

The plant is from the mesemb family and is native to Southern Africa.

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Birder's News

The word of the day is Monomorphic… what does that mean? In the bird world it means that the male and female look identical.

There are a lot of bird species where the male is very different from the female. This makes it easy to identify the males from the females for birders, but often  you will come across birds that are monomorphic.

I found out that over half of the bird species in the world are actually monomorphic! I never knew that, I thought that it was just a few. Luckily, I don’t have to tell them apart to count the species each year!

Here are a few photos of monomorphic bird species…


The Red-headed Woodpecker. The male and the female are identical, so you really can’t tell them apart…


The Black Vulture. Can you tell if these are males, females or one of each??? Nope!

CFD3461E-5B90-4472-BB02-8C9E0A6B7750The Brown Thrasher…

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Green Heron

Birder's News

The other day while out birding near the ocean, I came across a pair of juvenile Green Herons.

You can identify them as juveniles because they have a striped neck and their coloring is browner and duller than the adults. Their feathers also look “fluffy.”

In this photo, it looks like one is expecting the other to feed him… but they are the same age or maybe he’s just looking to his sibling to come up with a plan for what they will do today, hahaha…


Here is another photo of a juvenile, this one looks like he might know how to feed himself…


Now this next photo is of an adult Green Heron. Notice the brown on the wings looks more gray and the feathers aren’t as fluffy…


Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

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