September Birding Classes at Bonnet House

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This September, Bonnet House is excited to announce two new birding classes! We’ll be offering ‘Ascend To Better Birding I’ on September 9th, and ‘Ascend To Better Birding II,’ on September 23rd, both of which will cover everything you’ll need to know to become an expert Bird Watcher.

Ascend To Better Birding I will cover the essentials of birding. This includes binocular best practices, a bird checklist and field guide with field marks, glossary, and family organization. You’ll even get to learn how to use some of the latest birding apps, like e-bird, Audubon, and Merlin to make identification easier using your smartphone.

You’ll also have the opportunity to learn the benefits of becoming a bird watcher, great local birding hotspots, and wonderful birding opportunities locally, in Florida and tropical adventures abroad. The workshop will include an informative presentation with numerous handouts, and an enjoyable bird walk through our gardens.

Ascend To Better Birding II will take the information from the first class to the next level. You will go over a 10 step approach to increase your ability to identify birds. This information will include helpful information regarding family groups, behavior, silhouette, habitat, field marks, commonality, seasonality, birding by ear, plumage, as well as the uses of checklists and apps.

One of the most important things you’ll learn in these classes is that a good bird watcher is always prepared! Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, and a field guide (if possible, field guides can be provided upon request).

You won’t want to miss out on these fun and informative events that will be sure to enhance your birding eye. If you’d like to register, the costs are $20 for members, and $25 for non-members. If you’d like to register for Ascend to Better Birding I, click here . If you’d like to register for Ascend to Better Birding II, click here .

Seeking Sponsors And Designers for Holiday Magic Event!

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The summer heat may be at its peak, but we are already gearing up for Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Magic 2018! Preparing for this event means that things are getting busy here at Bonnet House with preparations for our second annual Holiday Magic fundraising event!

Holiday Magic is a major fundraiser dedicated to the preservation of Bonnet House. It all kicks off with a team of designers that will decorate Bonnet House trees, wreaths, and centerpieces that will be available for purchase throughout the week. On November 30th, we’ll kick off the festivities with a classy, Holiday Soiree on the veranda. Then, from December 1-7th, Bonnet House will be open for self-guided tours at night with an exciting surprise each night, from Santa and his elves, to Christmas storytelling, to strolling carolers, and much more!

In order to make this fundraiser a success, we are looking for designers and/or decorators to decorate the Bonnet House trees, wreaths, and centerpieces that will be on sale throughout the event. Designers and decorators will also be able to choose their own unique theme, and color scheme to go along with their piece. 100% of the proceeds from this event will go to the preservation of Bonnet House, so we are asking designers and decorators to donate their time, talent, decoration, etc.

Bonnet House will provide high-quality trees at no cost to the designers or decorators. Designers and decorators can choose between decorating a wreath, centerpiece, or tree. All trees will be pre-lit, and stands will be provided as well.

If you’d like to sign up to design a wreath, centerpiece, or tree, the deadline is November 9th, 2018. You can also sign up to be a sponsor of the event. For more information, an entry form and general guidelines can be obtained by clicking here or emailing Dora Worley Livesay, Director of Development at [email protected]

Orchid Care Classes at Bonnet House

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Orchid Care Classes Resume July 28 at Bonnet House

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens will be offering its orchid care classes once again beginning Saturday, July 28th in the lovely air-conditioned Island Theater. Learn how to care for your orchids on the beautiful Bonnet House Estate . Join our  new orchid curator, Jose Exposito, and his team of orchid care experts on the historic Bonnet House Estate for three key orchid cultivation classes.  Jose is  founder of Soroa Orchids, senior judge of the American Orchid Society, world renowned speaker including World Orchid Conferences in Brazil and Malaysia. He has been featured in Orchids Magazine, Vogue, Martha Stewart Show and many other National and International publications.  Each class is followed by a guided tour of our Orchid Display House as well our Orchid Greenhouses.

All classes take place on Saturdays. The schedule is as follows:

Orchid Basics – July 28, 2018, 10am – 12pm

Orchid Repotting & Mounting – August 4, 2018, 10am – 12pm

Diagnosing Pests & Diseases – August 11, 2018, 10am – 12pm

The cost of each class is $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
To register, visit or contact Linda Schaller at [email protected] or (954) 703-2606.


Cruise Down the New River with Bonnet House

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Cruise Down the New River with Bonnet House & Kelly’s Landing
Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 5pm

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens and Kelly’s Landing Seafood Restaurant present Cruisin’ Down the River. Take a boat ride with Bonnet House down the New River Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 5:00 p.m on the famous Carrie B paddlewheel boat. Enjoy wine and tasty treats from Kelly’s Landing and live music from the Gold Coast Banjo Band. Admission is $45 for members and $55 for non-members and includes two glasses of wine along with a lite snack. A cash bar will also be available onboard. The yacht embarkation site is 3440 North New River Drive East, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.

For more information and to reserve your seat, please call (954) 703-2614 or visit

Bonnet House Announces South Florida Adventure Pass

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For the third year in a row, five local attractions have joined together to offer the ‘South Florida Adventure Pass!’ For one low price ($45 for adults and $35 for children), locals and tourists can enjoy unlimited admission to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Flamingo Gardens, Young At Art Museum, Sawgrass Recreation Park, and Xtreme Action Park!

If you enjoy history and nature, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a must-see attraction featured on the South Florida Adventure Pass. On 35 acres of pristine barrier island habitat, this plantation-style house remains much as it was in the 1930s and 1940s when Frederic and Evelyn created the unique blend of art and whimsy that so delights visitors today!

For wildlife enthusiasts, The South Florida Adventure Pass also features Flamingo Gardens. Established in 1979, Flamingo Gardens is home to one of the last natural jungle growths in South Florida. With the South Florida Adventure Pass, you’ll be able to view over 3,000 tropical and subtropical plant species, including the largest tree in the state of Florida. Their Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to over 90 native species, making it the largest collection of Florida Native wildlife in the state!

If your family is interested in having fun while learning about art and culture, plan on stopping by the acclaimed Young At Art children’s museum. Enjoy free admission to this 55,000 sq. ft interactive museum that’s perfect for kids and families. The Gold-LEED certified Young At Art Museum is the epicenter for families and features four permanent galleries. The Young At Art Institute houses a series of professionally equipped studios for drawing, painting, sculpture, animation, photography and film, printmaking, mixed media, digital computer, and 4D video design. YAA also houses 10,000 square-foot Broward County Library, a National Traveling Exhibition Gallery, Teen Center and Recording Studio, a preschool and early childhood learning center, and a Museum Gift Shop. Don’t miss out on this must-see South Florida attraction!

If it’s adventure, you’re looking for, use your South Florida Adventure Pass at Sawgrass Recreation Park ! Here, you and your family can discover the Florida Everglades on a thrilling 30 minute Airboat Adventure ride free of charge. Glide over the sawgrass and cattails and let your spirit soar as you hear the stories of this unique environment. Hold an alligator, and see a Florida Panther in their animal exhibit areas featuring over 100 mammals and reptiles who have been adopted and rescued.

For an exciting indoor experience, visit Xtreme Action Park , the largest indoor entertainment venue in Florida! Xtreme Action Park has over 200,000 square feet of exciting attractions and event spaces including Go Kart Racing, Bowling, Arcade, a Ropes Course Adventure, Glow-in-the-Dark Bazooka Blast, a Trampoline Park, Roller Skating Rink, Escape Rooms, an Auto Museum, All American Cafe, Hershey’s Ice Cream Shake Shoppe, Sports Bar, and so much more. Xtreme Action Park truly has something fun for everyone! From animal interactions and lush botanical gardens, to art expression and unlimited roller skating, the South Florida Adventure Pass boasts exciting adventures of all kinds.

If you’re interested in purchasing an Adventure Pass for you and your family, the savings pass will be sold at each participating attraction beginning May 15th, 2018, granting unlimited admission to each attraction until September 30, 2018.

Discover The 5 Ecosystems of the Bonnet House Estate

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In addition to their historic significance, you may be surprised to know that 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.

The Primary Dune is incredibly important to Bonnet House, as our estate exists on a Barrier Island. Primary dunes are very important to barrier islands because they offer protection against flood tides and storm surges. These natural barriers are formed and maintained by the plant life that lives on them. Living conditions on primary dunes are extremely harsh, with strong winds, salt spray, low moisture retainment, shifting sand, and hot sun. For this reason, the plants and animal species that inhabit these dunes tend to be similar to those found in desert regions.

In many dune systems, like ours at Bonnet House, Secondary Dunes can also be observed past the primary dunes. At Bonnet House, this is where the main estate is located. These dunes form when severe storms breach the primary dunes and deposit sand further inland. Due to their relative stability over time, and because they are protected by primary dunes, secondary dunes.

The grounds of Bonnet House are also home to a freshwater slough, a deep marshy river that remains flooded almost year-round. Sloughs are particularly important to South Florida’s ecosystem because they deliver freshwater to bays and estuaries. Because water flow through a slough tends to be slower than most rivers and streams, water is often subject to chemical changes. These changes can actually involve the removal of pollutants and excess nutrients, and are necessary to prevent degradation of any receiving estuaries.

Additionally, The Bonnet House gardens contain beautiful Mangrove Wetlands . Mangroves are thick, dense shrubs and trees that have adapted to life in brackish water, including along tidal rivers and streams, and low energy coastal wetlands. Red, black and white mangroves are native to South Florida, and are considered excellent contributors to coastal fisheries due to their high productivity and nursery functions. Mangroves are built to withstand the harsh growing conditions and subtropical climate of South Florida, and are considered essential to life in the Everglades because they stabilize the coast line and reduce erosion from storm surges.

Lastly (but certainly not least), the Bonnet House grounds feature a beautiful Maritime Forest. Maritime forests are coastal estuaries found on higher ground than dune areas, and within range of oceanic salt spray. They support a great diversity of plant and animal species that can withstand strong winds, periodic flooding, and salt spray. A variety of mammals, and reptiles often make homes in maritime forests, and thousands of birds migrate to these locations each year.

If you’re interested in experiencing the great natural beauty of South Florida all in one place, be sure to visit Bonnet House on your next visit to Fort Lauderdale! If you have any questions, or would like to plan your next trip, contact us!

Celebrate Mother’s Day With Bonnet House Museum & Gardens!

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At Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we value all the wonderful Moms who make our work possible. From the mothers bringing their children and families to visit the Estate, to our volunteer moms spending time away from their family to enhance the quality of Bonnet House, we’d like to extend a warm thank you to every Mom who has contributed to the success of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.

Photo by Mary D’Elia

This Mother’s Day, give Mom the ultimate gift of art and culture by celebrating at Bonnet House free of charge! Sunday, May 13th from 9am – 4pm , Mom’s will be admitted free with one full paid adult admission. Step back in time with Mom and experience life as it was in the 20’s and 30’s as you tour the historic estate filled with a delightful collection of art and personal treasures from the Bartlett family. You also won’t want to miss out on our gorgeous natural trails filled with native plants, trees and even an occasional monkey or swan.

If you still need to pick up a fantastic gift Mom will be sure to love, don’t forget to visit our popular Museum Shop, for elegant jewelry, classy handbags, scarves, and so much more! If you have any questions about the Bonnet House Estate, or our Mother’s Day discounts, please contact Monica Estevez at (954) 703-2614 or [email protected] .

Don’t Miss Our Ojus Tiles!

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When most guests think of Bonnet House, they will likely imagine pristine gardens, luxurious spaces, and fine artwork from across the globe. But one of the most exquisite aspects of Bonnet House often goes overlooked: the floors. At Bonnet House, each room has a different flooring concept. To site a few examples, some rooms, like The Studio, Dining Room and Bamboo Bar contain terrazzo with bronze expansion joints, and the flooring in The Main Orchid Display House is made of roughly finished coral. From Helen’s Music Room to Evelyn’s Bedroom, each room has unique flooring features that are worth remembering!

The most unique floors in all of Bonnet House Estate, however, are the Ojus [Oi-yo] tiles found in the Drawing Room and the Shell Museum. The tiles were named after the Ojus Rock Company quarry that was opened after the turn of the last century. The techniques used to make the tiles was imported from the Mediterranean long before Florida became a state. Each tile can be unique in size, shape and color, as you may notice in the Shell Museum. Unlike the thin walled, but highly decorative glazed tiles, Ojus tiles are thick and heavy, and are sun-dried rather than kiln-dried, making it easier to produce needed quantities.

These tiles are often used for exterior application or high traffic areas as these thick tiles do not require a solid foundation, but can be placed on level ground, are weather tolerant, have more “grip” than glazed tiles, seldom move, can sustain heavy loads without breaking, and rarely chip. Interestingly, after centuries of island colonization, properties that do not have clear deeds or land titles use the hurricane proof tiles to re-establish property lines when there are disputes or a disaster devastates a property.

There are two methods to manufacture Ojus tiles. Initially both use a mold that is approximately three inches deep and filled with concrete. One technique uses pure white sand and calcium
carbonate in its concrete mix. Then, colored ink is immediately swirled into the surface before being sun dried. The second technique allows the initial pour to use regular mix sand. After drying, a slurry of pure white sand and calcium carbonate is poured as a top coat, and the ink is swirled into the surface. These tiles are still made by island artisans for home and commercial application.
Frederic and Hugh Taylor Birch knew what they were doing when they selected the heavier and thicker Ojus tiles for the Estate. They chose a flooring that would take a beating and last for more than a lifetime!

Next time you visit Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, don’t forget to look down and take in the beauty of our unique floors and tiles! If you have any questions about visiting Bonnet House,  please contact us, and we’ll be happy to assist.

Leave a Legacy and Support Bonnet House in Perpetuity

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With a Chari­table Gift An­nuity (CGA), you can make a long-lasting impact for the preservation of Bonnet House-and here’s what you get in return for your gift:

  • Receive stable, fixed payments for the rest of your life, regardless of fluctuations in the market
  • Pay less tax on those payments than regular income
  • Get a charitable deduction for the current market value of your gift and face no liability for the capital gains when you fund your gift with appreciated stock
  • Receive payments immediately or defer them to a future date when you may need additional income.

The minimum age is 60 and the minimum gift is $10,000.

Some payout rates are as follows:

Age 70 – 5.1% annually
Age 75 – 5.8% annually
Age 80 – 6.8% annually
Age 85 – 7.8 % annually

No wonder the Charitable Gift Annuity is such a pop­ular gift. It gives long-term support for your loved ones, Bonnet House, and you!

Contact Darla to get individualized information detailing what your annuity payments and interest rates would be: Darla Worley Livesay, Director of Development, 954-653-1557 or [email protected]

South Florida Adventure Pass

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Purchase a pass at Bonnet House and visit five South Florida Cultural Treasures–Bonnet House, Flamingo Gardens, Young at Art, Extreme Action Park & Sawgrass Recreation Park.  Ticket prices are as follows: Adults – $45, Children (3-12) – $35, Member prices: Adults – $30, Children (3-12) – $20. Tickets available at the Museum Gift Shop beginning Tuesday, May 15.  Program runs May 15 – September 30, 2018.

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