Audubon House & Tropical Gardens- A Living Croton Bank

Discussion in 'THE CROTON SOCIETY' started by kwtimo, Sep 4, 2013.

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  1. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Some of you know that I am the gardener for the Audubon House & Tropical Gardens in Key West. A property that is rich with history, and also responsible for the Historic Restoration Committee that is responsible for keeping the architectural identity of the island intact. I have been doing maintenance at this property for years now, and patiently awaiting my opportunity to make some much needed changes to the garden. With a little of my vision, an operations manager who "gets it" and who helps me with getting money into the budget for these improvements, things have taken a nice turn over the last 8 months. I have been able to eradicate some plant material and then replace with some real stuff of interest. It has been a relief of sorts, until I realize how much effort it will take to continue on this path to create a real botanical garden in downtown Key West. Something really special, beautiful and educational to all.
    Now I've only had the "bug" for a year now, but I have been collecting crotons like a madman. With no more space in the yard, the plants had to go somewhere, and I started to envision how sweet it could be to pack crotons, palms, aroids, rare fragrant stuff and the like at the Audubon House. Or even to have a croton tour and auction there. I met with Jim & Judy Glock and Jerry Shilling a while back for them to view the property for its potential only. It's kind of hard to tell someone not to look at the mass of stuff that needs attention, but they agreed that it could be very possible with a lot of work and money. Even Lamar was down here a couple of weeks ago, and he thought it could be a pretty cool place too.
    I like the idea of a living croton bank. In zone 11, I can really grow some amazing plant material, and hardly ever have to worry about winter killing off my plants. I would love to have a place open to the public that can house several dozens of cultivars for all to appreciate, and to try to ensure that some of the extremely hard to find or disappearing cultivars would have a real shot at being grown out to their potential to be propagated and shared to collectors like us. I recently was given an approval on next years budget to put some material in, and I decided that I would not wait until then to get this started. I am fronting all of the crotons, palms and other plant material, as well as soil mediums and amendments. I'm sure that a good chunk of my time will be donated. But I am in this thing all the way now, and am willing to see it through. Today, I got to make my initial changes, and it was a real relief to finally start on my dream job.
     
  2. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    1,450
    Location:
    DAVIE FL
    Great info,I have not been to Key West in 15 years but I need to plan a trip soon.Is it worthwhile coming this year or should I give it a little time for you to finish up??
     
  3. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Mike, I would give it some time. I'm looking at making a pretty big push over the next couple of months. With Jeff's sale and the tour and auction at the Glock's coming up, I will be acquiring more material for sure. Then there are other events like the Aroid Show and such. So I need time to get more material, and then to install it. While I do have a fairly good sized inventory in place, I will be accepting plant donations for this project. Crotons and palms in particular. I will periodically post what I have installed so that people can be aware of what may not be needed. It is not a big property, so I am trying to avoid putting duplicates in. Although, can you ever have enough Polychrome, Richard Krukonis, Robert Halgrim, Cameo or Davis 87? There are many areas of deep shade too. Today I had the pleasure of eradicating an area of good bright light that had a large cypress stump for a center piece surrounded by a mass of Little Harv bromeliads. Now there is a Carpoxylon for a centerpiece, surrounded by Red Quill, Ethel Craig, Plaid Oak, Red Wizard, Chief, Rudy Bachman, and a yellow & green called Ruffles. I'll get to do more before the end of the week. Pics will follow soon. Thank you for the interest. Trust me, I'll be real happy to show this garden off when it is further along.
     
  4. TikiRick

    TikiRick Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    455
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL Zone 10b
    Congratulations on your ambitions! If you are ever in the (east) Fort Lauderdale area, please stop by. I have a few crotons that may interest you.:eek:
     
  5. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Thank you Rick. I will take you up on that. I'll PM you later to get your details and set up a tentative date. This is one of the reasons that I am grateful to have found such a devoted, passionate group of people who want to share their knowledge, experience and collections. Great stuff!
     
  6. Native son

    Native son Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    869
    Location:
    10a
    This is really a very special opportunity troops, Tim has a ton of work ahead of him but I saw the fire in his eye, and look forward to being a small part of this.
     
  7. waykoolplantz

    waykoolplantz Active Member

    Messages:
    142

    Rick has one of the best combinations of Palms & Crotons. Could be a guidebook on the use of color in a tropical landscape.
     
  8. Crazy for Crotons

    Crazy for Crotons Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,050
    Location:
    south Tampa, Bokeelia
    Tim,

    My wife and I were there in May for about the 5th time. Like the Hemingway House, it's a place I never get tired of visiting. I love the Cyrtostachys in the pond and the Hamelia cuprea out by the street. Oh and the crotons look great too.
     
  9. Jeff Searle

    Jeff Searle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,752
    Location:
    South Florida, USA
    Tim,

    You have been talking to me about this ongoing project for quite some time now. It not only sounds exciting, but what a way to showcase this great, colorful group of plants that's so world renown. And what better place than Key West with it's tropical climate year round. Your energy and passion forthcoming will surely make this project a success. I look forward to helping in a small part with some sort of palm and croton donations as you get started.
     
  10. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Oh, Tim, sounds like this project is going to be very fulfilling and gratifying to you, and very awe-inspiring to us. I am so excited for you and can't wait to see it in the future! You will make a mark in history with creating a safe place to preserve croton species for all croton lovers and learners. Maybe you can keep this thread going and periodically let us know what types of plants or things you're looking for to fill in your creation. I know this group will be very willing to help. I don't know what I can do, but if you make your needs known, then chances are, something will click for the many here that would love to help. Thanks, and good luck with this dream job.

    Ana
     
  11. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Ray, I've been waiting for years for someone to say something about the Cyrtostachys. It is truly a beast a this point. And to think, I bought that as a 3 gallon palm about 8 years ago. Glad to hear that you have enjoyed visiting in the past. I always see it with different eyes as to what needs to be done, and overshadow everything else.
     
  12. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Updating progress on the garden. I removed a lot of less than desirable looking material in this particular bed, leaving the massive Sapodilla tree, the Weeks Red Hybrid growing on it, and the nice sized Burretiokentia Hapala I planted earlier in the year to work around. Now there is Tortoise Shell, Columbiana, Sybil Griffin, Tabernaemontana Pandacaqui & T. Holstii (not crotons, but very fragrant), Capt. Gilbert Cutler, Rams Horn, William Jennings Bryan, Delores and Irene Kingsley thus far in this bed, and I have room for a few more plants yet that will be in fairly shady conditions. Anyone have suggestions on real performers in shady conditions? I know that Polychrome, Claude Lorraine and Mosaic can really show in low light, but what else in your experiences has worked really well for you? I promise I'll have pictures soon.
     
  13. Native son

    Native son Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    869
    Location:
    10a
    Tim I really like Van Buren in the shade.
     

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  14. Marie Nock

    Marie Nock Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    665
    Tim,
    I always recommend Yellow Iceton for really shady areas. The pale yellow makes it pop out. Mrs. Iceton, Eleanor Roosevelt and Nestor(a good Nestor w/ lots of pink) are also good in shade.
    Marie
     
  15. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Tim, King of Siam does well for me in quite a bit of shade. Not crotons, but what about anthuriums, especially bird's nest type anthuriums, landscape rhizomatous begonias- especially large leaf types like nelumbiifolia, or farfugium giganteum in masses, and if you need something vertical, I love the pretty well-behaved amydrium zippelianum. Real pretty and tropical looking deep green, deeply slit vine with yellow bloom.
     
  16. Emmylou

    Emmylou Active Member

    Messages:
    90
    Location:
    Miami
    Hi Tim, I have a very heavy canopy and lots of shade. I have found Raphael to be very nice and colorful. Another is Van Buren which is georgous with lots of pink, and of course there is Black Beauty which is spectacular. Marnie
     
  17. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Here is the first bed that is completed to date. I'm not very savvy with the camera, but I wanted you all to get the idea of how things are coming along. I tried to take them in an order that would show you the flow of the layout. This was the bed that had nothing but Little Harv bromeliads in it with the cypress stump in the center. You might see the stump off to the left. audubon garden 010.jpg audubon garden 007.jpg audubon garden 012.jpg audubon garden 004.jpg audubon garden 003.jpg audubon garden 001.jpg
     
  18. Jeff Searle

    Jeff Searle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,752
    Location:
    South Florida, USA
    Now that's what I'm talking about!!! Boy, this can only get better, a great selection of palms and crotons, and then only grow larger into maturity. I look forward one day to visit this garden.
     
  19. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Here is part of the second bed finished to date. audubon garden 038.jpg audubon garden 013.jpg audubon garden 033.jpg audubon garden 015.jpg audubon garden 016.jpg audubon garden 034.jpg
     
  20. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Here is the other part of the second bed. The Red Weeks Hybrid, Burretiokentia Hapala, Rojo Congo, and Sapadilla tree were what was left after removing most of the other material prior to planting. The little palm is an Areca Vestiaria. audubon garden 018.jpg audubon garden 017.jpg audubon garden 019.jpg audubon garden 020.jpg audubon garden 021.jpg audubon garden 022.jpg
     

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  21. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Here is some more of the potential material to be installed. Some nice palms in there too. audubon garden 043.jpg audubon garden 046.jpg audubon garden 048.jpg audubon garden 049.jpg
     
  22. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Hey Tim - what a huge improvement since I was there. The owners must be thrilled watching you transform the property into a tropical paradise.
     
  23. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Tim, it is absolutely gorgeous! I can't wait to visit someday. Hey, I recognize many of the crotons, but some I don't. Would you mind telling us what you put in each bed?:eek:
     
  24. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Anna, thanks for the appreciation. It's been fun to work on. In posts #3 and #12 I named which crotons that had been planted thus far. I did not, however, list the ones that I finished off the second bed with. They are Cronstadt, Arrowhead, Mona Lisa, Geisha Girl and Yellow Iceton. It will probably be about a week before I have some more work completed. I'll keep everyone posted.
     
  25. palmisland

    palmisland Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,248
    Location:
    West Boca Raton 10b
    Great start Tim. I may have time to do a quick look around when I'm down there at the end of the month. ;)
     
  26. Phil Stager

    Phil Stager Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,637
    Location:
    Sunny St. Pete, FL
    Looks FANTASTIC Keep up the great work. The place should look stunning for the IPS Post Biennial tour
     
  27. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Today's additions to the garden: Palms-Arenga hookeriana and Clinostigma Ponaopense, with much needed eradication of gnarly, shaded out and stank old water holding bromeliads, bleeding heart vine and mass over growth of wart ferns. Crotons- C.I. Craigen, Coppinger Hybrid, Thomas Edison, Chrysophyllum and Irresistible. I am very much looking forward to Jeff's sale so that I can add to the inventory of the garden. Moose, just a warning; I am younger and faster than you, and I'll have my G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu grip ready to go!
     
  28. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Pictures, or it didn't happen.:p
     
  29. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,947
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Hmmmm
     

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  30. Jeff Searle

    Jeff Searle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,752
    Location:
    South Florida, USA
    Hey Moose,

    Rumors have it that Tim will be sleeping somewhere close to the nursery. He might have the upper hand on arriving early, like as in a flashlight in hand and waiting for the sun to come up.:cool:
     
  31. Bills

    Bills Banned

    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    West palm beach
    Free trip to the Keys next week, cant wait to come see all your hard work ,partying and looking at crotons what else can you ask for
     
  32. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,947
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    We no need a stinking flashlight LOL :D
     

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  33. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Progress as of late. First is a partially planted bed. The Wamin bamboo was planted in March, the new additions have been squeezed around some exisiting plantings. This is far from a finished product, only a bit of a visual provided for "The Croton Heads" to see how things are progressing. First is C.I. Craigen, Coppinger's Hybrid, Dypsis Saintluceii, Thomas Edison and Clinostigma Paopense. audubon former heliconia 007.jpg audubon former heliconia 006.jpg audubon former heliconia 005.jpg audubon former heliconia 002.jpg audubon former heliconia 001.jpg
     
  34. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    This is another unfinished area, but I am happy with how it is coming along. We have an Arenga Hookeriana anchored by Van Buren, John Bender, Polychrome, and an Anthurim Clavigerum I purchased from Marie that I am hoping will happily climb onto the Sapadilla tree it is resting on. audubon former heliconia 011.jpg audubon former heliconia 014.jpg audubon former heliconia 010.jpg audubon former heliconia 012.jpg
     
  35. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Also unfinshed, I am happy with the progress of this area too. In the far back left, there is a Licuala spinosa that is hard to see yet, in front of it is Mauritiella armata, in front of it is Coccothrinax montana. The crotons in the back row are Buddy, Diane, Gloriosa (about 3.5 ft tall by audubon former heliconia 020.jpg audubon former heliconia 022.jpg audubon former heliconia 015.jpg audubon former heliconia 023.jpg audubon former heliconia 024.jpg audubon former heliconia 025.jpg audubon former heliconia 031.jpg 5 ft wide), and Davis #1. There is a Calyptrocalyx sp. next to the Davis that is hard to see in the photo, but works really well there. In front of the larger crotons left to right are President Reagan, Majesticum, Krakatoa, Satakentia luikiuensis, Tiger Eye, Egg Farm, Dypsis paludosa and Thomas Hitchcock. I left the Ptychospermas in the background to help with screening out the neighboring property. This area was thick with some unhappy Heliconias that were reaching for sun, and were not really working anymore. I wish I would have taken before and after pics so that you could see what I have been working with along this project.
     
  36. Native son

    Native son Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    869
    Location:
    10a
    Keep up the good work Tim, I saw the before and hope your not paying fees for disposal. We are hoping to get trip together in Nov. I need a first hand look. C U
     
  37. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Tim, thanks for the update. You're doing some great work with a lot of very interesting plant material. You had me looking a lot of stuff up- which is good for me. I love seeing how you're using the crotons and how you're placing them deliberately by size and contrast in color, etc. You give me lots of good ideas.

    That Gloriosa is huge! Is it all one plant or several plants (stems) together? How old is it and how large do you expect it to get? My crotons are almost all small, so I don't have a good idea yet as to how large many cultivars get. Seeing things in photos isn't like the reality of standing next to a large bush.

    Anyway, thanks for the update, and please keep showing the areas as you add more and more stuff. Ana
     
  38. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,947
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Wow - lots & lots of work got done. Tim has the same rock scenario here as the Moose Land. Probably why I don't see the 7 gallon unknown - alot of work for just one plant. Tim's van was packed with all kinds of plants - surely photo updates will be provided as they are installed.

    :rolleyes: Now if Tim could send me his Moose Land air layer list ... :confused:
     
  39. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Wow, I had the good fortune to plant some really cool stuff over the last two days. When I left the Audubon House yesterday, I felt like the luckiest guy in the world. I don't often get the opportunity to plant a Neoveitchia storkii, and it is one of CAM00069.jpg CAM00068.jpg CAM00080.jpg CAM00081.jpg my top 20 favorite palms. It looks great now, and will look even better 5 years from now. In that same area, I added Go Reds, Flamingo, MacKenzie and Pride of Winter Haven. On the other side of the same bed is Louis Dupoy, Clinostigma paopense, Thomas Edison, Dypsis Saint Lucei, Cutler's Gulfstream (formerly Coppinger Hybrid) and C.I. Craigen. I'll have room for one, maybe two more crotons to rap up that bed. The center of the bed has a Dwarf Buddah Belly bamboo (Vulgaris Wamin) that was planted earlier in the year. To the left of it on the corner is a rather large Miami Supreme Gardenia. I had removed a yellow Holmskioldia sanguinea (chinese hat), and a lot of Ruelia and bromeliads that were climbing on and around the Coconut tree. We could no longer have the Porteas on the palm due to the fact that it is a prime sitting area for weddings and other events. They were wreaking havoc on all who encountered them, but man were they gorgeous when in bloom.
     
  40. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Today I got to plant some real nice crotons. I ripped out some firecracker plant, wart ferns and gnarly Bromelia balansae. These are the nastiest, meanest bromeliads I have ever encountered, and are extremely effective as a security barrier. They are also exceptionally beautiful when in bloom, but working with these is dreadful and painful. With some open space ready for planting, I had been contemplating for months what I was going to put in around the Verschaffeltia splendida and Hydriastele beguinii I planted earlier in the year. Well, I finally got to plant my Richard Krukonis, Col. Bob Bullock, and newly acquired #93 (Dave McLean) and Thea from Jeff's sale. To the right of that, I needed something on either side of the Arenga hookeriana I planted a few months back, so I put in a Robert Halgrim and Mosaic. I just need to figure out what is going to be planted between these two areas, most likely another palm with a croton in the foreground. All of this new planting makes me really enthused about going to this property with the frequency that I am there (4 times a week). As usual, I'll keep you posted on additional progress. CAM00063.jpg CAM00065.jpg CAM00066.jpg CAM00078.jpg
     

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