Thursday, March 10, 2011

Zesty Zamia

We had been trying to decide where we would plant about seventeen specimens of Zamia (commonly known as coontie or Florida arrowroot) we received from Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) in Coral Gables.  These plants were all germinated from seeds collected from wild populations throughout the state of Florida.  We wanted to do something special with them and finally decided to make them part of our center courtyard, in which we hope to plant only Florida natives from now on.  I arranged the plants in two beds bisected by a sidewalk in an approximate N-S-E-W pattern based on MBC collection data.  Ronnie helped with plant placement and Veronika and I set about planting after mixing in some rich soil with the relatively nutrient-poor sand/coral stone soil already in the beds.  The project took the better part of a day to complete and the results are fantastic, even though this is a very young planting we hope will fill out quickly to form a lush ground cover under our buccaneer palm in the north bed and thatch palm in the south bed.  Below is an "in-progress" photo of the south bed and a "finished" photo of the north bed:

After our work, it was great to see some of our guests do double-takes and offer compliments after leaving what looked like two bleak desert war zones in the morning and returning in the evening to find two well-manicured gardens that seemed to have magically appeared in their place.  Already the Zamia seem to fit in very naturally and beautifully with the lush tropical landscape on the grounds and they will become a great additional topic of conversation for our tours.

Rick Hederstrom
Associate Director

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