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Sunken Gardens…

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, perfect for a trip to the Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. It was warm enough that the cool shady paths were very welcome, even in December. I have seen it referred to as one of the ‘old Florida roadside attractions’, and, at 100 yers old, as Florida’s oldest ‘living museum. It seemed that lots of people had decided that it was a perfect day to visit.

I haven’t visited at Christmas before, so the poinsettia tree was surprise to see.
The paths meander and criss-cross.
Good thing there was a map, though we were lost a lot of the time.
A flock of flamings waded in the fountain.
Azaleas were blooming.
The train garden was chugging along.
Orchids.
More orchids.
Blossoms on a red vein maple.
Small waterfalls were tucked into the foliage..
And larger waterfalls too, with some impressively large koi fish swimming about..

The news last night was full of snowy images and I remember that cold reality. I think I’m right where I belong.

adventure, attention to detail, butterflies, exploring new places, Florida landmarks, flowers, friends, fun, gardens, Just do it, making memories, nature, perseverance, photography

A new botanical garden…

If you spend enough time drinking coffee and talking about what to do that day you might find yourself thinking that it’s too late to do anything. Photography is better when you can take advantage of the softer light around sunrise and sunset, but this day we decided on a noon-time trip to the botanical garden at the University of South Florida. There was lots of pretty scenery, and welcome shade on this December day in Florida when the temperature reached 86.

A doorway to draw you in.
I just love the graceful branches of the live oaks we have here.
This particular trunk bent to touch the ground again before it rose toward the sky. At the base of the trunk a succulent garden has erupted.
This angle didn’t show that last tree the way I hoped it would. Possibly the plants are bromeliads.
I wonder what they feed their cows at USF?
“Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to Nature. It will never let you down.”
When I took this picture I thought I’d comment that no one was home. But seeing it in the computer has me seeing two eyes, a nose, and a great big yawn.
You never know who you’ll meet when you head out the door.
Angle Trumpets fascinate me.
I satisfied my curiosity about what the inside of the flower looks like by taking a ‘selfie’ of it.
This is my favorite from the orchid garden.
Hibiscus is always tempting to photograph.
Loved this pretty flower.
Not the best picture of this tiny white butterfly on an equally tiny white flower. But on closer examination I was amazed to see the the ‘eyes’ on the wings.
My current idea of a dream home is a little cottage on a lake. Maybe looking like one of these.
Blue sky, a shady path, and a lovely gazebo to call your name.
a second look, Amazing artwork, attention to detail, butterflies, Florida landmarks, flowers, fun, gardens, nature, perseverance, photography

Back to the botanical gardens…

Thankfully I still have my desktop computer to use while I figure out the laptop, iPad, and external drive. Which is why I didn’t worry about it and headed to the Nature Coast Botanical Garden yesterday. The first thing to see is the crane carving that is still under construction. It seemed more detailed to me, but while I was taking pictures I was hearing some loud chattering in the nearby trees. It sounded like I was being scolded, and I had to hunt before I saw who was unhappy with me. You can see him too, that’s the squirrel in the feature photo. Maybe the tree that is being carved into the statue used to be his home.

I hope they will be able to take down this yellow tape eventually, though I’d hate to see the statue damaged.
I haven’t caught a pagoda flower in it’s full glory for a while. I thought they were a particular favorite of the butterflies, but not that day.
Butterflies were in abundance though.
They didn’t pose for photos very often though.
I love these tiny purple flowers on the stalk of the plant. This moth seemed to like them too.
I know we were disappointed to not see more waterfalls while we were away last month, but the waterfall in the botanical garden seemed to be extra pretty yesterday.
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A quick trip through the botanical gardens…

I had to go to the bank the other day, and since it’s practically next door to the Spring Hill Botanical Gardens a stop seemed in order. But, unfortunately, the butterflies weren’t very plentiful while the no-see -ems certainly were. Consequently it was a quick trip, but not so quick that I didn’t notice all the changes that they have been making at the garden. First of all this sculpture, which is in progress. At the base of the wing you see a disruption in the tree trunk, which I’m sure is why the tree was sacrificed and this sculpture is being made. A beautiful solution. I hope it will be finished the next time I’m here.

Not everything was new however, just seemingly rearranged enough to make it look new. Namely the castle in the feature photo, I hadn’t ever seen it from that side before. I liked that picture.

I love this little scene and take a shot of it every time I go here, but I never sit down.
I suspect that this is a moth, they only flying insect that posed for me.
Just one of a few angels…
Looking for dew on the flowers…
This little scene is one I wish I could walk into and sit a while.

By this time my ankles were so itchy that I was ready to leave. I need to actually use the bug spray that is always in my car, but I forget it’s there. I’m hoping that the hot weather will let up soon, it has been keeping me close to home for a while now. I shouldn’t complain, soon we will be enjoying the weather that drew us to move to Florida in the first place…

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Distractions…

I have to confess that as much as I enjoyed the butterflies at the Butterfly Rainforest yesterday I did let myself get distracted by the adorable Chinese Painted Quail that were busy scooting around in the underbrush. And sometimes napping on the walkway. Another visitor asked if they were okay, and the workers said yes they were. And added they they are the worlds smallest variety of quail. You can see them in the feature photo, a male and female I would expect.

See that tiny little pink dot nearly in the center of this photo? That is a Summer Tanager and it was busy taking a bath and didn’t seem to mind that I was intent on getting pictures.
Thank goodness for the zoom, he was too cute to miss.
He was splishing and splashing.
So cute.
And when he was done he up and flew away.

Actually the fun started right when you walked into the lobby, before you even entered the rainforest. In the lobby was a huge screen on the wall, and when we entered on the screen was a Mastodon and baby, wandering in the lobby. We quickly discovered that if you walked into the area the animal on the screen would start following you, and chasing you. You can imagine how excited the two young boys we saw were as they were chased by a tiger.

Not a great photo I know, but it was quite effective in person.
Tigers chased you more than the Mastodons did.
Also on display in the reception area. Fossils was the other big feature while we were there. I was sort of along for the ride, not expecting to be as interested as I turned out to be.
This display was nice, in the kids’s play area.
Hanging above the kids’s heads, the stuff of nightmares.

Did you know that giant sloths existed years ago? Big! Like 14 feet tall or so. And Dog bears? Not a dog and not a bear, but a dog bear. And did you know that horses used to be small and have gotten bigger over time? I didn’t either. And now I wish I’d taken more pictures.

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Exploring a Rainforest…

We visited a Rainforest yesterday. In Gainesville, FL. With Butterflies. A shorter road trip this time. Your price of admission included visiting the museums associated with the University of Florida, so we saw more than just a host of butterflies. But for now it’s the butterflies that stole the show.

You walk a boardwalk through a lush garden of lovely flowers, with waterfalls, turtles, and koi fish. Butterflies of every imaginable color are literally everywhere. If you stop to take pictures you must check around your feet before you take a step, just in case.
These black and white butterflies were either the most abundant variety or the ones who most wanted their picture taken.
Black butterflies seemed elusive.
I loved his blue color.
Just saying hello!
Catching them while they were on flowers wasn’t easy.
This one was small, and it’s body was thick enough that I thought it was a hummingbird for a second.
Say cheese.
Yellow fellow.
A worker pointed out this blue butterfly when it was staying still and we could get pictures. He called it the ‘money shot’. These blue butterflies, and others of every color you can imagine, flitted through your view constantly, but didn’t stop often enough to get photos of them all.
This is how that blue butterfly looks with his wings closed. Signage said that some of these startling colors are so that the butterfly can open its wings and the color will startle a predator.

We set the record for heat in the Tampa area yesterday. If it wasn’t a record in Gainesville then I’m sure it was close. Plus the humidity was even more than what was natural to enhance the rainforest atmosphere. But it was a worthwhile trip, we were happy we got to enjoy this colorful place.