This afternoon, we drove across the state to visit the up and coming Naples Botanical Garden. Brainstormed by local residents in the mid 1990s, the Garden is currently completing construction and will open to the public on November 14th, 2009. Executive Director Brian Holley and his staff graciously invited us to visit the 160-acre site, which was an invaluable experience to learn more about botanic garden creation and construction.
While a typical South Florida rainstorm passed by, we had the opportunity to hear the perspectives of Jill Barry, Director of External Affairs, and Joyce Zirkle, Chief Operating Officer. We then boarded golf carts to get an overview of the site, stopping to see the progress on some of the notable garden locations, including the Children’s Garden, the Brazilian Garden, and the pond system. We had the expertise of Brian Galligan, Horticulture Manager, who pointed out some of the notable plant specimens along the way.
Both Brians then sat down with us to discuss the garden structure and history. The purpose of this garden is to reflect landscapes and cultures within 26 degrees of the Equator, and there are already locations for future Asian and African inspired garden areas. We all agreed that this will be a fantastic new botanic garden and a great resource for tropical horticulture.
Before heading back to the east coast, we couldn’t resist stopping to dip our toes in the Gulf of Mexico, and arrived just as the sun was about to set. It was a good thing we stopped, or Bob never would have met his feisty dolphin friend.