Tropical Tranquility – Historic Fort Lauderdale

In addition to their historic significance, the Bonnet House grounds encompass one of the last examples in South Florida of a native barrier island habitat. Five distinct ecosystems can be found on the property including the Atlantic Ocean beach and primary dune, a fresh water slough, the secondary dune which includes the house site, mangrove wetlands, and a maritime forest. In compliment to the natural vegetation, the grounds contain a Desert Garden composed of arid plantings, a hibiscus garden, and the main courtyard planted with tropical vegetation. Evelyn Bartlett was a passionate orchid collector and the varieties she left to Bonnet House comprise one of the largest collections of orchids in the Southeast United States. Various blooming examples are rotated regularly through the estate’s Orchid Showroom.

Mrs. Bartlett’s love for orchids was matched only by her love of animals. The Bonnet House collection includes two Amazon parrots that reside in the courtyard aviary, Peaches, a Moluccan cockatiel housed in the fowl pen, and a mating pair of mute swans that grace the Bonnet House sloughs and Lily Pond. Other animals found on the grounds include a troop of wild Costa Rican squirrel monkeys, gopher tortoises, and manatees that occasionally seek refuge in the estate’s Boathouse Canal.

Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma caused significant damage to the grounds in 2005 and destroyed much of the estate’s upper tree canopy. A major restoration project was begun in 2008 to replant the grounds to restore them to their period of significance appearance and to shield the property’s historic view corridors from neighboring development.

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