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A guided tour of a Naples community's tropical nature trail

Stroll with us along a boardwalk through a veritable jungle to see which lush tropical plants would grow well in your own garden. Member Mary Naylor will be our guide, answering our gardening questions and telling us about the nature trail's interesting history. It's located in The Waterfront residential community, just south of the Naples Municipal Airport.The trail was originally a concrete walkway built back in 1989. But broken irrigation pipes and total neglect for over 20 years made walking difficult. Dead plants, overgrown trees, and roots crossing the path made the trail a dangerous liability. In 2011 the community had the foresight to refurbish the nature trail by building a sturdy boardwalk, with new irrigation pipes underneath it.

Mary is a very busy real estate agent, but she accepted the position of being the landscape committee in charge of renewing the community's trail. She devised solutions for each problem, and decided which plants should be added or removed in each area. She and a hired gardener continuously maintain the trail, producing the beautiful results shown in these photographs. The last two photos show how the boardwalk and benches were constructed.

For this event we'll all gather in the outdoor communal kitchen adjoining the community's pool. It's across the street from Mary's condo, located at the address shown above. In the kitchen, garden group leaders Peter and Suzanne will distribute printed name tags for everyone, and membership/discount cards for the members attending their first meeting. We'll get a short history of the nature trail, then proceed to the trailhead for the main event.

After the guided tour along the community's boardwalk, we'll return to the communal kitchen for refreshments and discussions of what we've seen. If you bring along your favorite snacks and drinks, they can be left in the kitchen (it has a fridge) at the start of this event, to be shared with others at the end of the tour. You can also bring along any excess plants you have for the free plant-exchange table, where you can pick up other members' plants to add to your own garden.

To let Mary know if you can or can't attend, submit your intent on line by clicking on the RSVP link near the upper right corner of the screen. If you're inviting any gardeners or nature-loving friends to attend this free event, please add the number when you RSVP.

Because this activity isn't typical of our traditional meetings in members' gardens, it should attract new and additional guests. We'd like to continue expanding the variety of activities we schedule in the future, so please send leaders Peter and Suzanne your suggestions. We look forward to seeing a good crowd on this guided tour on Sunday, October 20.

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  • Suzanne and P.

    With 43 gardeners attending, this event was our most popular yet, and in the most beautiful venue as well. Host Mary Naylor guided our members and a few residents of the Waterfront community along the community's nature walk, densely planted with a profusion of bromeliads, orchids, palm trees and other native and exotic species. Everyone was amazed that she, a busy realtor, could almost single-handedly create such a lush tropical jungle in her spare time. Mary began the meeting with an interesting introduction about the trail's history. After the guided tour, everyone shared the many foods and drinks members brought to share, along with lots of lively conversation. Members generously brought many of their excess plants for the free exchange table, and took home other plants for their own gardens. Residents of the Waterfront community graciously welcomed our club, and invited us back for a future event. You can read about the community on its web site at http://WaterfrontOfNaples.com.

    October 20, 2013

    • Mary N.

      Frany, you are so kind. I would like to think I am becoming a gardener. Just can't seem to get this old brain to remember all those Latin names. Tk

      October 22, 2013

    • frany

      latin words are the least of your worries. Your love for the garden, now that's obvious!

      October 22, 2013

  • Missi

    It was gorgeous! Talk about a boardwalk through a dream <3 Thank you for having us! Mary, if you get the name of the pink & green bromeliad with faint white stripes on the underside, please let me know! Thanks again!

    1 · October 20, 2013

    • Missi

      Looks like this one: http://4.bp.blogspot....­ Pink w/ white striped underside & green inside :)\

      October 20, 2013

    • Missi

      I'm just a little obsessed LOL I think I found the name of the brom. I THINK it might be Aechmea 'J.C. Superstar' but I can't find any available online!

      October 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry I missed this tour, I had visitors from Canada. Is is open to the public on any other days?

    October 20, 2013

  • Fred R.

    To anyone who got my plants these are the proper names. Don't forget to make labels so you won't forget. Tree marigold or Mexican sunflower is Tithonia diversifolia; the Candlestick Cassia is Senna alata. The Cassia seems to be a rather difficult transplant. As careful as I was with the larger plants, they didn't seem to like being moved. The little ones which I brought along are not as fussy but I would let them grow a little in the pots and then remove the whole thing into the ground.

    1 · October 20, 2013

  • Fred R.

    Mary,
    I didn't catch the purpose of the picture handout. Were these supposed to be broms planted along the naturewalk? I didn't see Vriesea gigantea 'Nova' but Vriesea hieroglyphica was definitely there. I don't have that one. "Vriesea hieroglyphica is a species of the genus Vriesea. This species is endemic to Brazil. The name refers to the markings on the leaves that resemble hieroglyphs; it has been nicknamed "king of the bromeliads."
    You now also have Vriesea 'Red Chestnut' and Neo. 'Kings Ransom' not sure if the labels made it through.

    October 20, 2013

  • Fred R.

    What a wonderful community project.

    1 · October 20, 2013

  • Jackie R.

    Mary, thank you so much for a great time. I learned so much!

    1 · October 20, 2013

  • Donna

    Just lovely. Thank you to our very gracious host, Mary

    1 · October 20, 2013

  • Etelka K.

    Sorry it's way too hot for me.have a nice day.

    October 20, 2013

  • Fred R.

    One of my landscape lights got crunched. Almost 40 bucks to replace it. One needs to be more careful. I was up on a ladder yesterday my back is OK today. I'm so glad that was a temporary thing. Today I will work to build another bromeliad bed.

    1 · October 13, 2013

    • Fred R.

      I put a couple pictures on my photo section so that you may know what I'm talking about. :-) http://www.meetup.com...­]

      October 14, 2013

    • Suzanne and P.

      The various species of sulfur butterflies we're breeding in our screened enclosure, Fred, would love to have a Candlebush plant (Senna alata) on which to lay their eggs. We'll pick one of yours up from the plant-exchange table.

      October 14, 2013

  • Karl K.

    Thanks guys now we know what we have. They grow so rapidly. Ours are loaded with buds right now. Tithonia diversifolia

    October 14, 2013

  • frany

    I've noticed everyone has a love for something...David Chapman for food forest's, Fred Rump for bromeliad's, Peter and Suzanne for orchids, Bonnie for vegetables... I have yet to find my 1st. love. I'm hoping hanging around you folks will jump start something. heeheehee

    1 · October 13, 2013

    • Suzanne and P.

      You already have a passion for garden ponds, Frances, a love we share as well. We're glad you'll be hosting a meeting in your garden on Sunday, November 10, so that our members can admire the six ponds you created, along with their waterfalls and growing colony of koi. Members can read about it at http://meetup.com/Flo...­.

      October 13, 2013

  • Mary N.

    I was in the garden today and worked for 6 hours. Time just flew by and I didn't feel like passing out from the heat and humidity. I want to make it easy for all visitors so there will be a resident helper on hand to help park cars. We don't want anyone parking on the grass/irrigation nozzles. We will begin by meeting at the community pool/kitchen for a greet and brief overview, then on to the trail.

    1 · October 12, 2013

  • Fred R.

    Looking forward to see more bromeliads in a natural setting. The weather sure has made working more comfortable. Yesterday I wasn't even soaking wet. :-)

    1 · October 12, 2013

  • Mary N.

    I can't wait to host the garden group next Sunday. The garden is beautiful and the weather has changed. I am actually watering in the morning. We are hoping to inspire others who love gardening but are new to Southwest Florida.

    1 · October 12, 2013

  • frany

    looks like alot of fun!

    1 · October 8, 2013

  • Jackie R.

    Looking forward to this event!

    1 · September 29, 2013

  • Lisa O.

    This place looks beautiful and I can't wait to go. I'm taking a class as well as creating a food forest and have very little free time, but I'll definitely make time for this one.

    1 · September 22, 2013

  • Mary N.

    Finally a few days of working in the garden without having to run for cover. I'm really looking forward to hosting a meeting. I think member gardeners will be inspired by what we have accomplished in just two years.

    1 · September 21, 2013

  • Suzanne and P.

    This nature walk will be a nice change, but we also look forward to having more meetings in members' gardens. Please let us know if you can host any future event.

    1 · August 4, 2013

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