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In Bloom At Bonnet House

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South Florida is truly a special place. With our warm climate throughout the year, we are lucky enough to always have a variety of beautiful plant species in bloom, regardless of the season. Here at Bonnet House, we have an abundance of tropical plant species blooming at different times of the year. Our guests have the opportunity to view and photograph some of the most beautiful plants in Florida. Located on our Bonnet House property, guests can find three different types of Mangrove trees, Coontie plants, Orchids, and so much more.

To help you plan your next visit, we have developed this guide featuring the various plant species you can find blooming at Bonnet House and around Fort Lauderdale in spring, summer, fall, and even winter.

Spring Blooms In South Florida

There are quite a few different types of flowers that bloom during springtime in South Florida.

1. Frangipani (Plumeria). Having been dormant in the winter months, the frangipani explodes with leaves and flowers in early spring. The frangipani tree is famous for its fragrant flowers that make up many of the leis offered to guests in the Hawaiian Islands. It is grown throughout the tropics and the flowers come in a variety of colors including white, yellow, pink, and red.

2. Mango trees (Mangifera indica). In the Bonnet House grove just west of the main house, Frederick Bartlett planted a long row of mango trees that bloom in the spring. The trees still produce hundreds of mangos each year that mature at the end of June.

3. Sea Grape trees (Coccoloba uvifera). The seagrape is a native tree that grows on the sand dunes along Florida’s coast. Its clustering white flowers produce bunches of green berries that turn purple in summer and are a favorite of many birds and small animals. It was considered a food source for early settlers in South Florida.

4. Blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis). A sprawling low growing wildflower, the blue porterweed is found on coastal dunes, shell mounds, and disturbed areas in South Florida. Its numerous small blue flowers are a nectar source for many butterfly species.

Summer Blooms In South Florida

Summertime in South Florida may be hot, but there are a variety of different plants that thrive in our hot, humid environment.

1. Mangrove trees. The red, black, and white mangrove trees along with green and silver buttonwood trees all inhabit the wetlands near the Intercoastal Canal boundary at the Bonnet House. They all flower in early summer. The red mangrove (Rhizophoramangle) produces its iconic pencil-shaped “propagule” that floats the local waterways looking for “land” to plant itself anew.

2. Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa). This evergreen shrub has glossy leaves and numerous small white flowers. Its nectar is especially attractive to the Atala butterfly.

3. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). South Florida is known for its many native and nonnative palms. Each has its own unique bloom size and shape. Saw palmetto is a native fan palm found extensively in Florida. Its flowers are yellowish-wish and are produced in dense arching panicles up to two feet in length.

4. Petrea. This is a genus of evergreen flowering vines that have rough textured leaves hence the common name Sandpaper Vine. This plant was named Petrea in honor of Robert James Petre, 8th Baron of Petre of Ingatestone Hall in Essex, and patron of botany.

Fall Blooms In South Florida

October is typically the start of a drier, cooler season in Florida, so the plants that thrive during the autumn months differ a bit from the plants that do well during the spring and summer.

1. Bougainvillea. Less rain and cooler temperatures are the keys to triggering the blooming of Bougainvillea vines. The colorful leaf bracts (every color from white to purple) hide the small white flowers of these vines native to the far East. Just watch out for the sharp thorns!

2. Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis). A low-growing and sprawling plant with dark green leaves and flowers with bright yellow petals and a dark center, the beach sunflower is a native sand dune beauty throughout the fall and into winter.

3. Bushy Oxeye Daisy (Borrichia frutescens). Its silver-green leaves contrast with its yellow daisy flower. It is a perennial medium shrub and is native to the coastal sand dunes.

Winter Blooms In South Florida

While winter is typically a challenging time for growers in most of the country, there are many different types of flowers that bloom during our mild winters in South Florida.

1. Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora). Nothing says “winter” like the blooms of this showy Brazilian native. This good size shrub produces blooms that change color in just a few days. Dark lavender blooms turn lighter and then turn white in a matter of three days. It blooms throughout the winter months.

2. Vanda orchids. Throughout the property and displayed in the House, orchids of many genera bloom in a variety of colors, shapes, and profusions. Evelyn Barlett’s had an extensive collection of orchids, and many are still alive today. Her favorites were her Vandaswith large showy blooms in stunning bright colors.

3. Jatropha tree (Jatropha integerrima). The red flowers on the Jatropha trees brighten any visit to the Bonnet House regardless of the season. A native of Cuba, this medium-sized multi-trunked tropical evergreen has red flowers in abundance. Many butterfly species including the Zebra Longwing (Florida’s official butterfly) are attracted to the nectar.

Each season brings something new and special to Bonnet House, and our foliage is no exception. We hope that you plan on visiting Bonnet House Museum & Gardens during your next trip to South Florida. To learn more, and plan your visit, click here.

Outdoor Learning Experiences for All Students & Families

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Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is located on one of the last native barrier island habitats in Florida and contains five unique ecosystems. Do you have Students who love to study outdoors?  Our 35-acre property provides plenty of curriculum-worthy experiences.  Begin your exploration along our unique Timeline starting from the Bonnet House beachfront shore through a hardwood hammock, freshwater slough, several dunes, an heirloom fruit grove, expansive mangrove habitats to a private cove along the Intracoastal waterway.

This huge outdoor learning environment includes our 100-year-old historic home built in 1920 by the Birch and Bartlett Families from Chicago.  Mr. Hugh Taylor Birch studied nature, while his daughter Helen was a Poet, Composer, and Fine Art Collector. Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett were American Artists with eclectic styles.  Is there a Photographer or Artist in your Family? Something amazing will catch your eye around every corner!

There is a Subject Area for every student at Bonnet House. To complement the depth of educational material for authentic learning, the Bonnet House barrier island history goes back to 1000 AD during the time of the Tequesta, our native South Florida Tribe.  Interested in Conquistadors? We have a conch shell excavated from our barrier island that has been carbon-dated to 1500.  Is there another decade that needs exploring?  Did you know there were German U-boats along our coastline during World War II?  Navy Pilots flew over our three-story tower in search of them.

Science, Ecology, Pollinators, Plant Adaptation, Urban Development, and Community Relations are all accessible touchpoints of study at Bonnet House.  Do you prefer planning ahead? Discover how climate change might impact this barrier island and seek out solutions for planning a Sustainable Future.

Too many options?  Our Education Department offers Curated Field Trips on many topics.  Visit us often this academic year.  Cross a Chickee Bridge, Explore, Imagine, Research, Team up on a Science Lab, Walk back in Time, Share a Picnic, Observe the Mangrove Critters at low tide, or Create a Photo Journal…

Schedule a Guided Field Trip for your Group of Students and receive Study Guides to take home for further investigation on your own.  Bonnet House Museum and Gardens await your arrival! Click here for more information and to schedule your next learning adventure.

Celebrating Our Bonnet House Volunteers

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Here at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we provide our guests with one of the most unique experiences in South Florida. Our stunning estate hosts a variety of fun and educational events throughout the year and serves as one of the most important cultural landmarks in the region. Visiting the Bonnet House property gives guests the opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of South Florida, the importance of our local ecology, and the stylistic significance of the featured artwork.

However, as much as we pride ourselves on providing such valuable experiences to our guests, we understand that none of this would be possible without our fantastic team of volunteers. Our talented team of staff and volunteers make up a tight-knit family with common passions for history, art, nature, and more. We care deeply about the estate and believe that its preservation benefits not only the individuals who visit but the entire Fort Lauderdale community. It is through our volunteers and their efforts that we are able to maintain the integrity and beauty of this unique historic estate and ensure a pleasant and enjoyable experience for each guest.

Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from biochemistry to banking, and law to photography. Many have been with us for over two decades, and are still enjoying their time here! Former Bonnet House CEO, Karen Beard, knows that “Bonnet House is a special place and it attracts some of the most dedicated and professional people I have ever known.”

Stephen Draft has certainly left his mark at Bonnet House as both Volunteer and Curator. After moving to the Fort Lauderdale area, Stephen began his time with Bonnet House as a volunteer working with the Grounds Manager, and later doing tram tours. But as his passion for Bonnet House and his experience here grew, he was offered employment as our Curator. “The thrill at seeing some neglected part of the property transformed never stopped happening for me…I was curator for 6 years before retiring and becoming a volunteer again,” Stephen recalls.

At Bonnet House, we value each and every one of our volunteers. We need and desire their continued help, enthusiasm, and support in order to keep the estate operating at a high standard. Without our volunteers, the Bonnet House experience would simply not be the same. Whether it’s everyday operations, special evening events, or post-hurricane cleanup, Bonnet House couldn’t operate as it does without our team of dedicated volunteers.

Volunteers have a variety of different opportunities to serve at Bonnet House. If you have any questions or wish to join our team of volunteers at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, please call (954) 703-2606 or click here.

The photo above was taken by volunteer and Bonnet House Fine Artist, Barbie Pearson, at our annual Volunteer Appreciation event and includes volunteers Carol Lucas, John Jors, May Muensch, and Edward Hashek.

2022 Summer Family Special At Bonnet House

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It may be hard to believe, but summer is right around the corner! If you’re like many others, you’re probably starting to think about fun things to do this summer. Whether you’re planning activities for your kids, your friends, or even just for yourself, Bonnet House is the perfect place to explore this summer.

Our 35-acre estate contains a Main House which features a whimsical collection of decorative and fine art, as well as a nature trail that is perfectly suited for families. While visiting, you are more than welcome to enjoy walking a one-way route around the beautiful Main House and taking a self-guided tour through our expansive gardens. To give our guests an optimal experience, we have developed audio recordings that can be accessed from mobile devices as you walk through our estate. This artful and educational audio tour features information about each room, significant items from the collection, and the families responsible for the estate’s creation.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the great things you can see and do at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. Beginning on June 1st and lasting through September 4th, Bonnet House will be hosting our annual Family Summer Special. This special deal includes $20.00 admission rates for adults and free admission for anyone 17 and under. This is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to experience what life was like on a beachfront estate in the 1930s and 1940s while learning about the historic and ecological significance of the property.

The Family Summer Special is available Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased at the Welcome Center. To learn more about the Family Summer Special, click here.

We hope that you consider visiting the Bonnet House estate this summer. With free admission for the kids, you and the whole family can spend a beautiful day learning about the historical and ecological significance of South Florida without breaking the bank. Click here to plan your visit.

New Colored Pencil Drawing & Painting Workshop At Bonnet House

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When you live in and visit a place like South Florida, it can easily be overwhelming. With so many burgeoning plants and active wildlife during all four seasons, it can be challenging to capture everything with just a camera or cell phone. This is why we take the time to ensure that we provide our community and visitors with opportunities to expand how they can capture the beauty and feel of the world around them.

Drawing and painting can be excellent ways to capture the true essence and beauty of anything you want to remember. It can also be the perfect way to showcase concepts and images that only exist in your mind. To help people learn how to develop these skills, Bonnet House will be hosting a 4-week Colored Pencil Drawing & Painting Workshop on Saturdays, August 6th through 27th, 2022 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

This 4-week workshop will be taught by the instructor, Galal Ramadan. Galal has written many articles published in Colored Pencil Art Magazines and has been featured in solo national and international exhibitions. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and now resides and teaches here in Florida.

This popular course will take place in our air-conditioned Island Theater, and is $160 for Bonnet House members, and $175 for non-members. We do our best to keep the class sizes small so that the instructor can ensure that all participants receive individualized attention, so be sure to register as soon as you are able. To view the necessary list of materials, click here.

We hope that you consider registering for our Colored Pencil Drawing & Painting Workshop this August. To learn more and register, click here, or call (954) 703-2606.

Have Your Next Photo Shoot At Bonnet House!

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Here in South Florida, we know how to celebrate a special occasion. Whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, graduation, or a wedding, we know how important it is to commemorate and remember the significant events that happen in all of our lives. This is why we work hard to ensure that the Bonnet House estate is always perfectly manicured and ready for your most important photo ops!

In fact, the Bonnet House property is so alluring to photographers and videographers alike that it was chosen as the primary location for Will Shriner’s delightful movie “Hoot,” and certain episodes of the popular television series “The Bachelor,” “The Glades,” and “The Amazing Race.”

Check out some details regarding the use of Bonnet House for photography and filming:

Individual Photography In The Courtyard & On The Grounds:
● $20 per person paid at the Welcome Center on the day of your shoot.
● No reservations or permits are required.
● Tuesday – Sunday, 11 am – 3 pm only.
● Two hours maximum inside the courtyard.

For any questions regarding Individual Photography, please contact the Admissions/Welcome Center at (954) 703-2607.

Commercial Photography & Filming
● Prices start at $500 for 5 hours with less than 5 people.
● Reservations are required & must be made through the Events Department

To discuss the use and availability of the grounds for commercial film or photography, please call (954) 703-2608 or click here.

Whether you take professional photographs or snap a quick picture on your phone, be sure to follow and tag us on Instagram @BonnetHouse. We love to see people enjoying the estate and celebrating their life and loved ones with us.

From family photos on vacation to engagement photo shoots to wildlife photography, Bonnet House truly is a fantastic place to take pictures. We hope that you plan your next photography session at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.

Orchid Display House

Let Your Curiosity Bloom At Bonnet House

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Orchids, and hibiscus, and cactus, oh my! As the summer months begin, Bonnet house is quite literally in bloom! The summer is the perfect time to experience the gorgeous plants that benefit from our warm, humid climate here in South Florida.

Because Bonnet House is located on one of the last native barrier island habitats in Florida and contains five unique ecosystems, the Bonnet House property is home to a wide variety of flowering plants. To complement the natural vegetation, the grounds also contain a Desert Garden and a hibiscus garden. Additionally, to honor Evelyn Bartlett’s love for orchids, we have many blooming orchids on display in the estate’s Orchid Display House.

If you’re interested in plants that grow in arid environments, then you’ll definitely want to explore our Desert Garden. This area will transport you far away from Florida with plants from places like the American southwest, and Africa. Guests will even have the opportunity to visit the Baobab tree that Evelyn Bartlett herself ceremoniously planted in 1996. While it may appear small today, these types of trees can grow up to 150 feet wide!

In addition to featuring plants suited to a desert environment, Bonnet House also contains a stunning Hibiscus Garden that is perfect for photo ops! Hibiscus are some of the most gorgeous flowering plants and come in a variety of bright colors. Featuring large hibiscus plants of all different colors and sizes, this garden has always been a favorite among guests.

But it doesn’t stop there. To honor Evelyn Bartlett’s passion for Orchids, we have also maintained a stunning collection of orchids. Guests have the opportunity to view various blooming examples that are rotated regularly through the estate’s Orchid Display House. The Orchid Display House is the perfect place for flower-lovers from all over the world to view the unique orchids that are well-suited for South Florida’s tropical climate.

Not only are our gardens bursting with brilliant color and filling the air with floral scents, but Bonnet House is also in full bloom with culture, history, and community. We hope that you take the time to visit Bonnet House this summer and let your curiosity bloom! To plan your next visit to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, click here.

Colored Pencil Drawing & Painting Workshops At Bonnet House

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Spring is in full swing here at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens! We have been thoroughly enjoying the warmer weather and taking inspiration from the blossoming plants & flowers throughout our vast gardens. Although South Florida is fairly warm throughout most of the year, we always look forward to the longer days and the beauty that each new season brings.

In order to make the most of springtime, we are excited to host a colored pencil and painting workshop this coming May. This 3-week workshop will help you capture the beauty of the season, and anything else that may interest or inspire you. Guests will have the opportunity to learn colored pencil techniques that will help you create great-looking artwork without years of experience.

We are also incredibly eager for you to join us in welcoming our new drawing instructor, Galal Ramadan, to Bonnet House. Galal has written many articles published in Colored Pencil Art Magazines and has been in solo national and international exhibitions. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and now resides and teaches in Florida. He is extremely passionate about his art, teaching others, and drawing inspiration from the world around him.

This 3-week workshop will take place on Saturdays from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm from May 7th – 21st, 2022 in our air-conditioned Island Theater. This course is $140 for members and $160 for nonmembers. To view the list of materials you will need, click here . We sincerely hope that you will consider registering for this fun, interactive, and educational workshop this May. Using colored pencils and paints to capture the beauty around you is a skill you will always treasure. To learn more about this workshop and register, click here.

The Many Homes Of Frederic Bartlett

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It goes without saying that Frederic Clay Bartlett was an exceedingly fascinating individual. From his artistic and architectural endeavors to his time spent abroad, to his various marriages, Frederic Bartlett led a full and interesting life from start to finish. Here at Bonnet House, we obviously know him best as the owner of our unique property and vast gardens, but Bonnet House was actually just one of many different properties that Frederic Bartlett called home at some point in his life.

To learn more about the life of Frederic Bartlett, and the other individuals that made Bonnet House what it is today, we began hosting a highly anticipated and informative speaker series. This series is meant to highlight some of the more interesting and unknown facts about the Bartlett family, the property, South Florida, and much more.

Our first lecture in this series discusses the gentleman who started it all: Frederic Clay Bartlett. Frederic Bartlett and his wife, Helen, began construction on the Bonnet House property in 1920. But unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1925 when Helen died from breast cancer. After that, Frederic’s visits to Bonnet House became sporadic until 1931 when he married Evelyn Fortune Lilly. With this marriage, a renaissance occurred on the site as Frederic and Evelyn entered a prolific period of embellishing Bonnet House with the decorative elements that delight visitors to this day.

But despite all that took place on the Bonnet House property before, during, and after his marriage to Evelyn, Frederic did not live exclusively at Bonnet House. In fact, over the span of his 80-year life, he actually lived in more than 15 different homes! Each of these homes reflects on his various passions, artistic endeavors, and even his character.

Because this particular topic has sparked the interest of so many in the architectural and artistic community, we have uploaded a recording so that you can listen and learn more about the life and various homes of Frederic Clay Bartlett at your leisure! From Bonnet House in Florida, to Dorfred House in Illinois, you’ll learn about the unique aspects of each of Bartlett’s most beloved homes and communities. You can watch the full recording, by clicking here.

Antique Chinese Betrothal Baskets

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Often referred to as wedding basket by foreigners’ betrothal baskets is more accurate as they are traditionally used during the betrothal or engagement.  The family of the groom fills the basket with dowry gifts for the bride’s family. The gifts traditionally come in even numbers. Food, sewing materials, a nightgown, and red sheets for the wedding night are sometimes included. Red is the symbol of prosperity, joy, and love. It is the main color used in Chinese weddings.

The baskets are commonly hand-made from thin strips of split bamboo. The strips are dyed red.   Ours, which is located in the studio to the right of the fireplace features exquisite weaving, with a double layer and an intricate design on top of the lid. Sometimes the weaver would sign their name on the wide bottom strips.  The one at Bonnet House is unsigned.  It dates from the early 1900s.

According to Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectables by Ronald G. Knapp they “… usually come in pairs so that they can be carried on the ends of a balanced shoulder pole. In some areas of China today, rather than purchasing a set, one has the option of renting one from a wedding cake shop.”

There is a strong possibility Mr. Bartlett purchased this basket on his wedding trip to China with his second wife, Helen Birch Bartlett. They were married in 1919.

The eagle in the Drawing room was also made in China. It was purchased by Evelyn Fortune Bartlett from Phyllis Cramer who owned the Kampong gallery in Palm Beach. Mrs. Cramer told Mrs. Bartlett that the eagle is a Chinese house decoration. The small animals on the gray tables around the courtyard were also purchased from the Kampong gallery. The store was located at 10 Via Parigi, an arcade opposite the Everglades Club. It was advertised as “a shop like a museum.”