A Last-Minute Reprieve for Miami's Constant Gardener

A few months ago, the New Times brought you the story of De Hull, a world-renowned palm expert with an incredible garden teeming with rare plants on the fringes of South Dade. Hull's way of life was as endangered as his plants, thanks to a string of hurricanes, break-ins and litigious neighbors.

Hull's former neighbor, Benjamin Leon Jr. -- scion of the Leon Health Care empire and a major Republican donor -- stomped the gardener in a series of lawsuits over a small piece of land. Hull was weeks away from losing his home and garden to foreclosure because of what he believes to be a fraudulent mortgage thrust upon him in his most desperate moments, at the height of the housing bubble.

But thanks to the pro bono help of a lawyer who read about Hull's plight in the New Times, Hull's case against his mortgage lender has been appealed to Florida's Third District Court of Appeals. Hull says he feels like he's been granted a stay of execution.

"We're feeling much more comfortable. We were going to be foreclosed again on Feb. 6, but that's been bumped back again," Hull says.

Still, all is not well in Miami's own Garden of Eden.

Hull says he's

had exactly one order for the exotic plants and birds he raises since

this fall's financial collapse, as the once-booming business of

landscaping for giant new developments has completely dried up.

"People aren't buying anything right now. It's incredible," Hull says.

The Third District has yet to set a hearing date for Hull's case against his mortgage lender.

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