Saturday, 19 September 2009

The best things in life are free!

Today I visited the most charming garden and it was free. So too are the birds and the beaches that I am enjoying here in Florida. The Joan M. Durante Park is just off Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat Key and it is a charming 32-acre site which was taken over by the town in the 1980's after the donor, James Durante offered to restore the property in memory of his wife Joan. They have done a wonderful job and today the park includes a large mangrove forest, created wetlands, a salt marsh and a small botanical garden, which includes a selection of roses currently in bloom.
Located in the heart of one of Florida's most exclusive property zipcodes, it's a joy to find this haven with wonderful views over Sarasota Bay - completely deserted on each occasion that I've visited and another great spot to watch the birds that I so enjoy here, because of the park's created wetland system. On my recent visits I have seen herons, egrets, cormorants, ospreys, pelicans and smaller shore birds.

I had never thought about mangroves before coming here, but was fascinated to read in the small, but beautifully produced brochure that you find at the park: "It is the red mangroves found closest to water. They have arching prop roots and their seeds look something like green cigars. Their leaves are large and bright green. Black mangroves will usually be found growing landward of red mangroves ... they 'sweat' salt from their leaves and send up twiggy projections from their roots called pheumataphores (above right), which provide oxygen to their roots. Their leaves are dull green with silver undersides. White mangroves (below right) usually grow landward or are interspersed with black mangroves ... their leaves are usually more rounded than other species." So thanks to the Joan M. Durante Park, I now know a little more about mangroves!

Osprey seen at the park flying away with dinner!

15 comments:

  1. Love the reflection of the water. Sounds like you're having a wonderful time in Florida!

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  2. How lovely! Free garden tours are a treat and this is a great time of year to be in Florida~~gail

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  3. I never knew quite so much about the mangroves, nor that there were more than one kind of mangrove. I love seeing the osprey flying off with a big fish. We have them here and sometimes the fish is almost bigger than they are!

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  4. Hi Charlotte, thanks for telling us about the free jewel that is open for the public's enjoyment. And for telling us about Mangroves, a fabulous and important tree. :-)
    Frances

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  5. Wow, that little gazebo by the water's edge looks like such a tranquil, peaceful place to sit a while. How wonderful that you have such a lovely place to visit...and for free! Nice capture of the osprey!

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  6. Hi Tiggerlot~~ Because of my propensity towards the darkside, mangroves always make me think of pirates [Pirates of the Caribbean] and voodoo and eerie sounds... and alligators? You didn't mention seeing any. I wonder if you have to be on constant alert when you're near water in Florida.

    I'm curious if this is the same Jimmy Durante of Hollywood fame.

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  7. It looks beautiful! What a lovely gift to the community!

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  8. There is a mangrove at the Eden Project in Cornwall, with a story about protecting coastal settlements from bad weather.That's if you protect the mangroves ...

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  9. What a treat! And especially because it's free! I just blogged about a retreat that is absolutely stunning, but it wasn't free. The garden you featured is a wonderful oasis and I loved the Osprey you captured.

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  10. The mangrove here looks very much like our mangrove swamps and wetlands that are found here. It has a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. I like the long roots of the mangrove trees. The hibiscus has a unique colour and the pictures are lovely.

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  11. Your post title is just for perfect. Couldn't agree more.

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  12. Great shots. My favorite has to be the one with the Gazebo reflecting in the water. :)

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  13. I like that hibiscus very much! It is pretty. And that bird with its dinner pic... very good shot!

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  14. What a beautiful public place. A shame more people aren't there to enjoy it but then perhaps it would lose the tranquility (and the birds). How wonderful to see an osprey fishing.

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  15. Never thought about that - about the best thing in life are free but I agree that mangroves are quite pretty and adventureous.

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