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.