Secret Jungle Garden

Zoom along Southwest 66th Street off 99th Avenue too quickly in your car and Palm Hammock Orchid Estate just may elude you. Slow down, though, look carefully, and you'll be astonished to find the lushly landscaped nursery. Plunked down in 1973 on the site of a once-agricultural area, the Estate really is an estate, now nestled among spacious houses in an affluent residential neighborhood. The nursery, home to a vast amount of vegetation on five acres, began life by providing plants to small local retail shops. As independent vendors began to disappear, owners Tim and Ann Anderson shifted their mission, gearing the sale of their greenery to the public.

Tinkling waterfall sounds, soothing music, chirping birds, and shady foliage beckon green- and brown-thumbed types to step through the arched entrance gate. Once inside a gazebo greets you and several enormous shade structures hold a variety of surprises: thousands of begonias, hoyas, ferns, and, of course, orchids; a selection of mysterious bonsai; numerous tanks containing mosquito-fighting fish; and terrariums housing gentle butterflies. Namely essential accoutrements needed to enjoy and exploit the serene possibilities of outdoor life in South Florida, or better said, the stuff you need to get a garden going and growing.

“That's the nice thing about gardening. It's such a relaxing hobby and no matter how stressful it is for you during the day, you can always have the opportunity to go out and enjoy your garden,” says Ann Anderson. “It's amazing, like going on a little mini-vacation, because you can literally get lost [in it].” This Friday and Saturday the Andersons hope their regulars and some new customers will lose themselves in the seven seminars that will make up their Garden Event. In addition to offering landscape-consulting and pond-building services, educating the public about plants has always been a priority for the Andersons, as evinced by the garden-oriented events they present year-round. This weekend experts will answer questions about plant problems (touching on subjects such as sunburn, insects, and fungi) and conduct workshops. Among the topics: butterfly, water, and container gardening; orchid-growing; and creating a meditation garden based on the principles of feng shui, the Asian art of placing objects in balance to elicit and nurture positive energy.

Aside from feeling good about your dry drooping potted plant or your exotic junglelike back yard, Palm Hammock's owners ultimately hope to instill awareness in their customers. “What we try to do is to get people to really look,” Anderson notes. “It's like the old expression, you can't see the trees because of the forest. That's one of the reasons for our lectures: to get people to really see their plants and enjoy them. There's a lot that goes on in the garden. It's fascinating.”

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Nina Korman
Contact: Nina Korman