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Holiday Magic

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Fort Lauderdale’s Charming and Whimsical Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
Kicks Off its 100th Anniversary Celebration with Dec. 6 Holiday Magic Soirée

The enchantment of the holidays is bringing many celebrations to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, including the kick-off of the storied home and estate’s 100th anniversary. The Friday, Dec. 6 Holiday Magic Soirée, the official 100th anniversary kick-off event, will be followed by a special Holiday Magic Week of events to continue the celebration.

The Dec. 6 Holiday Magic Soiree, a fully catered affair by A Alexander Event Catering, will kick off the centennial celebration in style with live entertainment by electric violinist Jared Burnett and electric harpist Deanna Defrancesco. A full bar, holiday music and plenty of festive décor will welcome guests. Designer-decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces will adorn Bonnet House during the event, and will be on sale throughout the week.

The Holiday Magic Soirée will take place from 6:30–9:30 p.m. A VIP reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and include an early viewing of the trees, wreaths and centerpieces displayed throughout the house, along with a fully catered champagne reception in the citrus courtyard, and 100th anniversary commemorative holiday ornament. The cost per person for the Soirée is $75; the cost for the Soirée and VIP Reception is $100 per person. The 2018 event hosted a sellout crowd of 500 people. For sponsorship information, email [email protected]

On Dec. 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13, 2019 from 5:30–8:30 p.m., the Holiday Magic Evening Experience will open Bonnet House for self-guided tours with something exciting every night from Santa and his elves, to Christmas story telling, to strolling carolers and much more. In honor of its 100th Anniversary, during each evening tour, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens will be offering holiday cheer, including general admission to the house ($20 per person) and admission with cheers (including two drink tickets) for $30 per person. $5 for kids 6–12 and free for kids under 6.

The Holiday Magic Evening Experience performance schedule is:

  • Pride Jazz Ensemble ― Saturday, Dec. 7; performance times: 6:30–7:10 p.m. & 7:30–8:10 p.m.
  • Whimsical Wonderland ― An Evening for Families: Broward Center Spotlights ― Sunday, Dec. 8,
    5:30–8:30 p.m. Includes Santa arriving on a fire truck, face painting, stocking making, punch and cookies.
  • Dillard Jazz Trio ― Wednesday, Dec. 11; performance time: 6:30–7:30 p.m.
  • Yuletide Carolers ― Thursday, Dec. 12; performance time: 6:30–7:30 p.m.
  • Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida ― Friday, Dec. 13; performance times: 6:30–7 p.m. & 7:45-8:15 p.m.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (954) 703-2614 or visit

Sponsored by: A Alexander Event Catering, Josh Cellars, Redemption Whiskey, Friends of Bonnet House at Corinthian Condominium, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and John Knox Village.


By Uncategorized No Comments

Facebook Fundraising

You can also support Bonnet House by setting up a personal fundraising page on Facebook. With so many people using Facebook, the fundraiser page is a great way to spread the word about Bonnet House to those who may not be familiar with Bonnet House. This new Facebook feature is easy to set up and use.

How to set it up

Note: You will need to have a Facebook account and will need to log in before you get started.

From the Facebook app or desktop site, select Create a Fundraiser and fill out the appropriate information in the on-screen form. If you’re using the desktop site, you can find the Create a Fundraiser link on the left side margin near the bottom of the page. If you’re using the Facebook app, tap the More icon on the bottom right, and then tap See More, which is located in the section that contains Friends, Events, and Groups—fundraising will be among the options you can choose.

Here’s the information you’ll be asked to include on your fundraiser page (refer to the image for a visual aid):

Orchids: A Complete Guide

By Bonnet House Blog No Comments

If you’ve ever visited Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, you may have noticed the vast array of orchids on display in our Orchid House and throughout the main estate. We choose to feature such an abundance of orchids throughout the year because Evelyn Bartlett, one of the original owners of the Bonnet House estate, was a passionate collector of the tropical plants. To preserve the history of the estate and it’s original owners, we provide enriching experiences that connect the Fort Lauderdale community to the Bartletts’ legacy. Part of this involves not only displaying unique orchid varieties throughout the estate, but teaching the public about orchid care and appreciation.

Orchids come in a wide variety and most require a specific care routine. To help those interested in growing orchids, or improving the care of their existing plants, Bonnet House offers Orchid Care classes in our Island Theater. These orchid cultivation classes, taught in a three-part series starting January 25th, 2020, are taught by our orchid curator, Jose Exposito, and his knowledgeable team of orchid care experts. These classes typically cover information like the basics of orchid care, orchid repotting and mounting techniques, as well as methods for diagnosing various pests and diseases. Each class is followed by an official guided “Orchid Tour” featuring our Orchid Display House and Orchid Greenhouse. To register for our orchid classes or learn more, click here.

If it’s the aesthetics of orchids that interest you more than care and cultivation, consider taking our two-day orchid painting watercolor workshop! These classes will be hosted by fine artist and watercolorist Karen Eskesen in the historic Bonnet House gardens on February 28th & 29th, 2020. By attending this workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to capture the unique beauty of Orchids using various watercolor techniques. To register for these classes, or to learn more about this opportunity, click here.

In addition to educational and artistic classes, Bonnet House is also proud to host our annual Orchid & Garden Festival every spring! This festival is sure to please not just orchid enthusiasts, but plant lovers of all kinds. Guests will be given the opportunity to vividly experience and purchase beautiful orchids of all shapes, sizes, and colors. In addition to orchids, guests will also be able to view and purchase other varieties of tropical plants, herbs, and fruit trees sold by local and international vendors. The festival also includes various lecturers and musical guests to keep everyone entertained throughout both days. To learn more about what to expect at our next Orchid & Garden Festival, click here.

To preserve the important legacy of the Bartletts, we have prioritized educating the public about
native plant species, including Orchids. If you’re interested in learning more about orchid
painting or cultivation, please consider attending at least one of our excellent orchid-centric

The Holiday Magic Comes To Bonnet House: Christmas Events In Fort Lauderdale

By Bonnet House Blog No Comments

It’s that time of year again! After October ends, it’s time to start focusing on the festivities of the
holiday season. Here at Bonnet House, we are already preparing to celebrate the holiday
season in grand fashion. But it’s not just the holidays that are worth celebrating this year.
Starting in December, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens will begin celebrating our 100th
anniversary! Our official kickoff will commence with our Holiday Magic event series December
6-13, 2019 and will continue with various events throughout 2020.

Beginning on December 6th, 2019, Bonnet House will be hosting our third annual fundraising
event that begins with a fully catered Soiree and exclusive VIP reception, followed by a full week
of festivities that will be fun for the whole family. The festivities will kick off on December 6th with
a classy, holiday Soiree on the veranda. This fantastic event will be catered by Alexander Event
Catering and will feature live entertainment as well as a full bar. Guests will have the opportunity
to see Bonnet House sparkle like never before while celebrating the holiday season and Bonnet
House’s 100-year legacy. This year, we are offering tickets to our Holiday Soiree (6:30pm –
9:30pm) for $75 per person, and our VIP Reception (5:30pm – 9:30pm) for $100 per person
(includes admission to the Holiday Soiree as well). This event typically sells out, so be sure to
buy your tickets early!

As part of the Holiday Magic Christmas festivities, Bonnet House will also be open for
self-guided evening tours on December 7th, 8th, and 11th-13th from 5:30pm – 8:30pm. A team
of talented designers will decorate trees, wreaths and centerpieces that will adorn the estate
and be on sale throughout the week. We will have something exciting each night for adults and
kids alike, from Santa and his elves, to strolling carolers to Christmas storytelling and even a
Whimsical Wonderland evening. In honor of our 100th Anniversary, we will be offering holiday
cheer during each evening tour which will include general admission to the house and two drink
tickets. Performers include the Pride Jazz Ensemble , on Saturday, December 7th, the Broward
Center Spotlights on Sunday, December 8th, the Dillard Jazz Trio on Wednesday, December
11th, the Yuletide Carolers on Thursday, December 12th, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of South
Florida on Friday December 13th. Last year, this celebration was a tremendous success with a
sellout crowd of 500 people. To learn more about the Holiday Magic evening experiences, and
to purchase tickets, click here.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens may be located in sunny Fort Lauderdale, but our estate is
never more spectacular than it is during the Christmas season. This is why we invite you to
celebrate the holidays and our 100th anniversary with us starting on December 6th with our
Opening Reception & Soiree and continuing with our Holiday Magic evening festivities. To learn
more, or purchase tickets for either event, visit our Holiday Magic events page.

Bonnet House Garden: A Trove Of Rare & Unique Trees

By Bonnet House Blog No Comments

For decades, the Bonnet House estate has been well-known for its historical significance to the South Florida community. But part of what makes Bonnet House so special is the natural environment in which it was built. 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 freshwater slough, the secondary dune which includes the house site, mangrove wetlands, and a maritime forest. Because of our unique location and expansive grounds, Bonnet House is home to a variety of rare trees that you won’t easily find in the rest of the United States.

The Jabuticaba Tree, for example, is native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, and Bolivia. Jabuticaba Trees are able to flourish here at Bonnet House because of their adaptability. These trees prefer moist, rich, slightly acidic soil, but they can also grow satisfactorily on alkaline beach-sand type soils as long as they are tended and irrigated. These trees flower frequently and produce a tasty thick-skinned berry year-round. Rangpur Lime Trees can also be found on our estate. These trees originated in India, but were brought to Florida in the late 19th century, and can now be grown throughout the world. They also bear an edible fruit that looks and tastes like a hybrid between a mandarin orange and citron. Avocado and Mango trees are also common throughout the Bonnet House estate.

Avocado trees are native to South Central Mexico but thrive in South Florida because of the humid, warm environment, and well-aerated soil. Mango trees on the other hand, are native to India but they also require a warm, humid climate in order to survive. For this reason, in the United States, these trees are only able to grow in Southern Florida and California.

The Bonnet House gardens also include Sapodilla trees. These are a rare find in North America, as they are only native to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. They can only survive in warm, tropical environments and will easily die if the temperature drops below freezing. South Florida’s warm climate makes it the perfect place for these trees to flourish. The Ear Tree is also native to Central America and can be found at the Bonnet House estate. These trees are a species of flowering tree in the pea family and are known for their expansive, spherical crown and ear-lobe shaped seed pods.

The Bonnet House estate is home to another rare tree that is native to Africa, Arabia, and Australia. These trees are known as Baobabs, and are commonly located in seasonally arid environments and shed their leaves during the dry season. They can survive harsh drought conditions by storing large quantities of water in their trunk (up to 32,000 gallons) for long periods of time. Although all of these trees are native to other countries, each can be found right here in South Florida. At Bonnet House, part of our mission involves educating the public about the Bartlett’s environmental legacy, and encouraging its preservation. You can see these rare trees, and so many more exciting species of plants and animals at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.

Plan your next visit today!

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A Visitor Guide To Bonnet House Tours

By Bonnet House Blog No Comments

Here at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, there is so much to see! As the name suggests, our estate includes both an indoor museum area, in addition to vast outdoor garden trails. As guests explore Bonnet House, we do our best to ensure that everyone is able to see and learn as much on their visit as possible. However, from the beautiful flora and fauna that occupy our expansive gardens, to the grand design of the historic home, it can be easy to miss some important areas. To help our guests make the most of their visit, we have compiled a list of a few things everyone should expect to see and experience at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens!

Constructed in 1920 on 35-acres of a native barrier island ecosystem, and included on the National Register of Historic Places, Bonnet House is one of the few complete homes and studios of two American artists that is open to the public. The Main House is filled with a collection of art and the personal treasures of the Birch and Bartlett families. Since Bonnet House’s construction, much of the natural barrier island habitat has been lost to commercial development. But a walk along our nature trails will transport guests back in time to experience a rare piece of old South Florida.

Upon arriving to Bonnet House, guests will enter through the welcome center to purchase tickets. The cost to enter is $20 for adult admission and $16 for children ages 6-12 years old (children under six are free). Our hours of operation are 9:00am – 4:00pm Tuesday – Sunday. Guided tours are available daily at 9:30am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, and 3:30pm. For our guests that would only prefer to take a self guided tour of our gardens, $10 tickets can be purchased at the front office as well. Reservations are not required for these general admission tours.

After tickets have been purchased, guests will walk past the Boat House, fruit grove, and the caretakers cottage (currently our gift shop) before arriving at the Main House. The guided house tours begin at the front door, but guests are free to explore the gardens until their tour begins. Inside the Main House, guests will get to experience Frederic Bartlett’s interpretation of a Caribbean-style plantation home, and learn about the estate details, as well as the unique lives of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett.

But there is so much more to the estate than just the Main House and garden trails. Across from the entrance to the Main House is our Shell Museum Complex, containing shells from around the world, an Orchid House and the Bartlett’s private Bamboo Bar. This complex contains hundreds of shells from all over the world, and displays one of the largest orchid collections in the US. Also on the property is an Island Theater with special exhibitions, two additional orchid houses, and even a small barn containing a restored 1935 Case “CC’ tractor!

It isn’t just the history that makes Bonnet House such a popular attraction. There are so many picturesque locations throughout our gardens that should not be missed. Overlooking the Lily Pond is our beautiful Pavillion, where the Bartletts would often entertain guests. Also on the property is a spectacular fountain, added in 1942. It is located at the end of our tree-lined allee and is constructed entirely of marble.

Whether you are a first time guest or a Bonnet House member, there is always something new to discover at our beautiful estate. If you have any additional questions about visiting Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, please call (954) 563-5393.

Bird Watching or Birding – How They Differ

By Bonnet House Blog No Comments

Here at Bonnet House, we are fortunate enough to have large, expansive gardens on our property. In fact, the Bonnet House estate contains five unique ecosystems which showcase some of the last examples of a native barrier island habitat in South Florida. These pristine habitats offer excellent opportunities for our guests to view nature as well as hundreds of beautiful native and migratory birds, among other animal species. For this reason, Bonnet House is a popular place for many South Florida residents and visitors to go bird watching and/or birding. But what exactly is the difference between these two activities?

Although these two activities might seem like the same thing, they are actually quite different. Invision this scenario: you are enjoying a morning cup of coffee by a window while looking out at your back yard. As you gaze out the window, you happen to notice a mother robin feeding her babies in the nest by your window. The act of viewing these birds while sipping your warm coffee is known as bird watching.

On the other hand, birding is a bit more complicated. In order to understand the difference between bird watching and birding, we need to take this scenario a step further. After seeing the robin and her babies, let’s say you decide to take a walk through your yard in the hopes of locating more birds with nests. You even bring your binoculars and a camera so you don’t miss out on any bird photo opportunities. The act of seeking out these birds is known as birding. Bird watching is a passive activity, where birding is much more active. Birding involves actively searching for birds or listening for their calls. Bird watching, on the other hand, involves observing birds when you just happen to see them.

At Bonnet House, we understand that both bird watching and birding are very popular, especially in the South Florida community. Because of this, we have been offering Birding Classes for quite some time now. In these classes guided by expert Paddy Cunningham, guests will learn how to spot birds and identify specific species and behaviors. You’ll have the opportunity to take photographs, view bird watching videos, and even make your own. Classes are typically $20 for members, and $25 for non-members.

If you’d like more information about Bonnet House’s birding classes, or if you would like to simply learn more about birding and bird watching opportunities at Bonnet House, click here!

A Guide To Outdoor Weddings

By Bonnet House Blog 2 Comments

Are you thinking about planning an outdoor wedding soon? If so, our team at Bonnet House understands how daunting that task can seem at first. There is so much to consider when planning an outdoor wedding and Bonnet House can be there for you every step of the way. From bad weather preparations to finding the perfect caterer, Bonnet House can help ease the pressure on your special day.

When planning an outdoor wedding, the first thing you must consider is the weather and the season that you would prefer to wed. Typically outdoor weddings are most common in the spring, summer and fall seasons. However, because our estate is located in the center of sunny Fort Lauderdale, the beauty of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens can be enjoyed year-round, even in the winter time.

Deciding on the attire you feel is appropriate for your wedding is also an extremely important factor in your wedding planning. Do you want your wedding to have a casual or more formal feeling? Everything from the bride’s bouquet, to the bride’s maid’s shoes and dresses must be carefully thought out before your big day. Regardless of your choices, Bonnet House spans 35 acres and offers a variety of settings for weddings, ceremonies, receptions, and rehearsal dinners of any style and size.

Choosing the right catering services and vendors can be a challenge as well. This is why Bonnet House works with many pre-approved caterers and vendors to suit every budget and design goal. When planning your wedding, reception and rehearsal dinner, Bonnet House has made the process simple by providing a list of preferred vendors with extensive experience on the property.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens offers a unique combination of the grandeur of the past with modern amenities, including a private parking lot, to ensure that the needs of any and all guests are accommodated. Bonnet House is available for rentals during morning and evening hours, and guests have the exclusive use of the tree lined allee, outdoor terrace, veranda lawn, hibiscus garden, and inner courtyard. It is also important to note that Bonnet House does not have air-conditioned banquet halls, however an air-conditioned bridal room is available for use by the bridal party. The renting party is also responsible for all services including catering, tables, chairs, staging, etc.

Whether you are planning an intimate gathering, or a grand and lavish affair, Bonnet House will set the scene for romance and timeless memories. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in South Florida, you can contact David Wooden [email protected] to set up a tour!

Orchid Care 101

By Bonnet House Blog 2 Comments

At Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we understand the importance of educating the public about South Florida’s history, and the unique natural environment that we call home. This is why we offer courses throughout the year that teach adults and children about a variety of topics, including orchid care. Even in a warm, sunny environment like South Florida, orchids can be a challenge to grow and specific techniques vary based on a multitude of factors. We’ll take some time in this blog to highlight some of the basics of orchid care The first step to basic orchid care is  understanding what type of orchid you want to grow. Each orchid is unique and requires a different balance of sunlight, water and food in order to grow.

The first step is to consider the amount of sunlight your plant will require. Essentially, orchids need just enough sun so that they have somewhat yellow-green foliage and strong, vertical growths. If your orchid is exposed to too much sunlight, the foliage will appear dark green, and will not have the typical strong upright growths.

The roots of your orchid, as well the entire plant will not survive without sufficient exposure to moving air. For this reason, most orchids do not actually grow in soil, with the exception of a few terrestrial varieties. When potting your orchid, your pot should be open with good drainage, but it should still be capable of holding enough moisture to support the plant’s needs. Typically, orchids are intolerant of an environment with little to no airflow. When considering where to keep your orchid, you should ensure that your plant is exposed to gentle air movement at all times. If you are growing your orchid in an indoor environment, you can simply use an overhead fan on a low setting, or a portable oscillating fan that is directed away from the plant.

Watering is the most common issue faced by orchid owners. In order to properly water any plant, you must consider both quantity and frequency. Due to the specific nature of your growing environment and the type of orchid itself, there isn’t an exact answer to how much and how often you should water your orchid. However, the main rule of thumb is to give the plant some water just as it dries out. The most effective way to determine whether or not your orchid has begun to dry out is to insert your finger into the soil and determine the moisture content yourself. This will not cause harm to the plant, and will let you know whether or not it is time to give your orchid some water. When your orchid is ready to be watered, it will require copious amounts. Continue watering your plant until you start to notice water running freely from the drainage holes in the pot. This will not only soak the potting medium, but it will flush away salts that naturally accumulate. At a minimum, be sure to water your orchid at least once a month.

If you care for your orchid properly, it will be able to grow and flower for long periods without the use of fertilizer. However, feeding orchids fertilizer regularly does yield better results. Typically, orchids should be fertilized once a week in the summer and every two weeks during the fall and winter times. Regardless of what brand or type of fertilizer you select for your orchid, most experienced growers recommend that you use no more than one half of the label-recommended strength after you water your plant.

If you are interested in growing orchids, or are already experienced in basic cultivation, we encourage you to attend some of our orchid classes. In these targeted sessions, you will learn techniques related to the best orchid care possible, and our experts can answer any questions you may have. Sign up or learn more, here!


Top Garden Attractions In South Florida

By Bonnet House Blog One Comment

Here at Bonnet House, we feel fortunate to be located in warm and sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Not only does our city have a rich cultural history, our climate and location make it the perfect place to view and enjoy the natural plants on our barrier island habitat. Bonnet House offers guests the opportunity to view our gorgeous garden area, however there are so many other beautiful and historic gardens to explore in South Florida. We’ve taken some time to compile a list of the best Fort Lauderdale gardens you won’t want to miss on your next trip to South Florida.

Fort Lauderdale has a variety of public gardens that show off the astonishing variety of plants that have impressed generations of visitors. One of the most popular gardens in Fort Lauderdale is Flamingo Gardens , home of Florida’s largest collection of Florida’s native wildlife, including over 3000 species of plants and trees. Established in 1927, Flamingo Gardens is one of the oldest botanical gardens and attractions in South Florida and continuously aims to preserve the ecology and history of the Florida Everglades.

Butterfly World is also located in Fort Lauderdale and was the first butterfly house ever built in the United States. Butterfly World encompasses three acres of butterfly aviaries, two aviaries for tropical birds, botanical gardens and even a working butterfly farm and research center. Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens is also a popular destination in Fort Lauderdale. Visitors are often surprised to learn about the unique connection between Japan and South Florida. The original building is modeled after a Japanese villa and features a ring of exhibition rooms surrounding an open-air courtyard with a dry garden of gravel, pebbles and small boulders. Their gardens span sixteen acres and include strolling paths, a world-class bonsai collection and lakes teeming with koi and other wildlife.

If you’re looking for gardens closer to the Miami area, there are plenty of options to choose from. One of the most beautiful Miami gardens is the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden located in Coral Gables, Florida. This expansive 83-acre site never leaves guests disappointed with multiple educational buildings and large gardens that everyone is sure to enjoy. Also located in Miami is the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. This gorgeous home was completed in 1910 as James Deering’s winter home. Visit this enduring, inclusive, and innovative estate to experience what inspires people to embrace the cultural vitality and environmental sustainability of the world around us. Also, the Deering Estate is a beautiful cultural asset in the Miami area and is a historic site listed on the National Register of Historic places. As a 21st Century museum destination for tourists and local residents, a variety of signature events, programs, tours and classes are offered here throughout the year.