Hello Friends and Family,

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The Bonnet House, Part 3

Evelyn Bartlett was a passionate gardener and the landscaping which she started has subsequently matured nicely. Pictured here is a Cardboard Palm with very thick leaves and ragged edges. This species dates back to the time of the dinosaurs. There is also a specimen planted at my sister's house and she confirms the story about dinosaurs — telling me that there is the strangest lizard living in hers.

One of Evelyn Bartlett's loves was orchids. There is still an orchid house on the estate and the personnel rotate individual plants into the courtyard.

According to the Bonnet House personnel, this is one of the largest collections of orchids in the Southeast United States.

All I can say is that the hanging orchid plants really add to the ambience of the courtyard — I love it.

As we walked the exterior grounds, I caught the sight of a tired visitor. As with most museum homes, you cannot sit on the original furniture on display due to the potential for damage. So you have to find the occasional hard bench to rest those weary bones.

The landscaping is extensive — including on the grounds outside the residence. Of course, in these areas the plants can get considerably larger than in the courtyard.

This example appears to be one of Evelyn Bartlett's beloved orchids, residing in a bougainvillea bush.

According to their website, "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".

And don't you just love the sight of "house plants" in tropical and semi-tropical areas (South Florida is the latter) — split-leaf philodendron, palms, ferns, etc. They will grow a bit larger than the ones sitting on your desk.

I also love banyan trees with their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks which, with age, can become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Old trees can spread out laterally using these prop roots to cover a wide area. Perhaps my affection is related to the huge Banyan tree found in the center of Lahaina, Maui.

As I mentioned earlier, the foundation that maintains the Bonnet House is involved in nourishing the arts. It is not unusual to see a painter with her easel, capturing scenes of the estate on canvas. She has chosen a particularly scenic spot — along the slough in back of the house — backed by the footpath to the beach.

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.

That concludes our visit to Bonnet House but not my Florida visit. A few days later was the "biggest full moon in ages". So we all climbed in the car and headed east to the beach. The previous "biggest full moon" brought out such crowds that late arrivals could not find a parking place at Fort Lauderdale beach so we went slightly south to Dania Beach. It was also crowded but we did find a spot.

The weather was unusual for South Florida because there was not a cloud in the sky — typically there are those big fluffy white ones. But it made a perfect setting which combined with a borrowed tripod resulting in the photo to the left. Fantastic.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com