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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.

Bonnet House Garden: A Trove Of Rare & Unique Trees

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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!