About Pinecrest Gardens

-By Pat Vandenberg

"Panama Pacific" Tropical Waterlily grows in the pond at the entrance to Pinecrest Gardens

Pinecrest Gardens is a beautiful example of the power of preservation. This historic garden could have been lost – to time and to the development that marches across many suburban areas of our country. But here is this oasis, a gift to the people of this region, a secret garden, preserved for the delight and education of the public.

On the State Register of Historic Sites, the 14-acre Garden has a very distinct, beautiful natural terrain/topography, including dramatic limestone outcroppings, ponds, cypress sloughs, a fragment of Snapper Creek, and an amazing variety of plant life. Until recently, the gardens were in decline for too many years.

Our purpose is to protect the past and celebrate the rediscovery of the historic gardens of Pinecrest. The garden is alive with opportunities for discovery – historical, botanical, and educational. Our aim is to preserve the integrity of the historical landscape, thoughtfully assist its evolution, and share it with you.

Our Second Annual Spring Garden Soiree

-By Lynn Willie Fichman, Photographs by Benjamin Thacker

Evelyn Greer, Ted Tate, Cindy Blank and Leslie Bowe

Lights sparkled and the melodic keyboard music of Jimmy B serenaded as 330 guests perused the silent auction tables nestled in the Colonnade. It was the start of the Community Garden Fund’s second annual Spring Soiree, held at Pinecrest Gardens on one of South Florida’s perfect cool and clear evenings this past February 29th, and from all accounts, a good time was had by all.

Nellie Aguirre-Wong, Larry McDonald and Paulette Vargas

The festivities began with a cocktail hour provided by Bacardi International and Penfolds Wine, along with a silent auction featuring more than 150 items which were donated by various local vendors. After drinks, appetizers and some fierce bidding, it was on to the meadow and the height of the evening.

The open field had been transformed with a large stage at one end, 37 tables adorned with votives and orchid arrangements scattered throughout, and rows of food and dessert tables ringing its perimeter. Macy’s Catering, who donated the appetizers, offered a variety of island-inspired dishes, from mango salmon to salads to jerk chicken dishes, and guests lined up to sample the fare. All reports were positive. The dinner hour passed, desserts donated by the Crepemaker, Desserts by Marilyn and Garden Fund committee
members were consumed, the stage lights went up, and the concert began.

Excited guests danced at the foot of the stage as the Marley Brothers, who provided their time and talent free of charge, played the uplifting Reggae music that has earned Stephen and Damian multiple Grammy awards. People danced and sang, and when the band had finished playing, they asked for more. They had just been treated to a private concert by one of the top acts around, all for the benefit of Pinecrest Gardens. “We are thrilled with the results of this evening,” said Karen Mashburn, founder and president of the Garden Fund. “Our thanks to the

Damian, Kymani, Julian, and Stephen Marley in concert at the Soiree

Mayor and the Village Council who donated the use of the Garden and the Pinecrest Police. Many thanks to the Garden’s horticulturist, Craig
Morell for his time and efforts, the Director of Parks, Loren Matthews for her help with planning and execution, and the Garden staff who worked vigorously to help us set it all up and take it down the following day. We are grateful to our committee members who
worked tirelessly on every phase of this event, the many vendors and business owners who donated their goods, the assistance of ‘One Moment in Time’, for handling the logistics, and Jimmy B, who donated his keyboard talent. Most especially our gratitude to Cedella Marley and Stephen, Damian, Julian, and Kymani Marley, who created a bridge for young and old alike to experience their wonderful music in this beautiful garden setting.”

Mother B and Friends

One of the most satisfying aspects to the organizers is the fact that, in addition to being sold out that evening, the Soiree brought a sense of community to guests of all ages who came to support the Garden Fund’s mission. The Community Garden Fund’s work to promote horticulture at Pinecrest Gardens and elsewhere continues. The proceeds from the Soiree will be used for improvements such as renovating the Colonnade landscape and installing
interpretive signs for the individual garden sections. Plans for next year’s fete are already forming.

“We are gratified and encouraged by the response to our efforts,” says Mashburn. “We will need the support of this community and citizens of the greater surrounding area to  continue our work to preserve our green spaces. The community spirit that was created at our second Soiree will continue. We look forward to carrying on with the work to help Pinecrest Gardens become a world-class garden.”

Tom and Virginia Wood (second couple from right) and party

A Special Tour of Pinecrest Gardens

By Candy McDonald

Candy McDonald

On June 14, 2008 the Board of the Garden Fund hosted a private tour of Pinecrest Gardens in honor of our newest members. Horticulturist Craig Morell conducted the tour to point out the improvements to the Gardens and what has been achieved through our donations.

The evening began with light refreshments by the Banyan Tree, and beautiful
keyboard music by Jimmy B of the Marleys. We began the tour through the Gardens and observed the orchids hanging in the trees which had been donated by the Garden Fund. The group proceeded to the original Coral Rock Entrance of Pinecrest Gardens and observed the work in progress of restoring the entrance. (The Villagers donated $25,000 toward restoration).

We viewed the two Talipot Palms which were donated by The Pinecrest Garden Club, and the lovely ponds which had freshwater tarpon, a wide array of turtle species, in addition to interesting tropical fish. As we walked through the Garden we noticed that a number of invasive plants had been removed and new plants installed by Craig andstaff. We then proceeded to Lakeview Terrace and saw the beautiful Cactus area, Historic Flamingo Lake, and wildlife, and the lovely mosaic tile on the floor of the terrace. We ended the tour by the Banyan Tree area and finished the evening with refreshments and music by Jimmy B. It was a lovely evening by everyone and we are hoping for another private tour with special people and friends and our horticulturist Craig Morell.

We were all in awe of how beautiful the Gardens have progressed since being purchased by the Village of Pinecrest.

Summary of major events and activities to date

January, 2007 – Filed with Internal Revenue Service for a 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
January, 2007 – Creation of Village of Pinecrest Botanic Committee – a permanent “Standing”
committee and first of its kind in the history of the Village of Pinecrest.
April, 2007
– Our First Annual Spring Garden Soiree, held at the home of Ms. Elaine Spear
was a big success. We cleared $16,000. Dinner was donated by many of the restaurants in
our community.
May, 2007—Our first donation to Pinecrest Gardens was $8,000 for orchids to be installed
overhead in the oaks to begin a restoration of the historical tree canopy. Stop by the Garden
and see the beautiful specimens that have been installed thanks to the many donations received
during our first four months. Special thanks to Kerry’s Nursery for the ongoing donations
of orchids to the Gardens.
February 2008 – Second Annual Spring Garden Soiree, held in the Meadow at Pinecrest Gardens.
A fantastic musical concert was donated by the Marley Brothers. The open bar was donated
by Bacardi, and wine by Penfolds. Appetizers were donated by Macy’s Catering, and
dessert by The Crepe Maker and Desserts by Marilyn. The Meadow was opened for the evening
by the Village of Pinecrest. Our net was $17,000. For this second Soiree, we hired
Macy’s to cater the delicious dinner.
March 2008—Membership Wine and Cheese Reception, held at the home of Ms. Judy
May 2008—Our second donation to Pinecrest Gardens was $5,000 to renovate the Colonnade
area. This area was overgrown and infested with weed species. See next page for more
June, 2008 – Private tour of Pinecrest Gardens for new members given by horticulturist Craig
Morell and hosted by the Board Members of the Garden Fund.

Charitable Fund Underwrites Pinecrest Gardens Colonnade Project

By Craig Morell, Horticulturist

The Colonnade at Pinecrest Gardens is a long, densely planted, narrow area between the Meadow and the old bird aviary. Many of the plants there were chance seedlings from wild seeds brought in by birds, or were planted to screen the view from the aviary to the Meadow. The area was dense and tangled in many spots, with little character to the landscape.

Our idea was to remove the unwanted plants or species which turned into weeds, replacing them with more inter

Dombeya x cayeuxii

esting plants. The Charitable Fund has underwritten this enhancement project, funding the labor and plants needed to breathe new life into this high visibility area.

Brownea macrophylla

A large and crippled Carambola tree was removed, as were a number of invasive wild coffee and clerodendron plants. In their place are beautiful new flowering plants, showing off a wide array of colors, flowering in different seasons. A long list of diverse plants was planted, including ferns, palms, bromeliads, gingers, and flowering trees. The star of the flowering tree show is the Rose of Venezuela tree, Brownea macrophylla, a flower of which is pictured here. Although these new plants are still young, they will mature into a multi-layered landscape with more light and air flow for the future, while retaining the Parrot Jungle feel of a highly diverse and interesting landscape. Be sure to stop in often to see these new plants and watch them grow and bloom.

Many thanks to Geoff Gordon, landscape architect, for his valuable input into the new design.

By Craig Morell, Horticulturist

A Visit to The Garden This Summer

In the 3 years since Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma tore through Pinecrest Gardens, the place has literally grown anew. Many hundreds of weeds and some plants that act as weeds have been removed, making space for new species. We have forged ahead with more modern and colorful small garden sections than ever before, while assiduously keeping the original spirit of the plantings.

The results have been encouraging, especially when we hear from long time Parrot Jungle visitors that the “new” gardens looks as well kept as the former incarnation! We appreciate the influx of volunteer help, the assistance of the Charitable Fund, and more than anything, the re-connection of the Gardens to the residents of the Village.

Calabash Tree

We have new plants to show off, and some older ones now coming into bloom as well. There are many diverse plants to talk about in the garden this summer. Here are just a few to see during a visit. Take a look at the Calabash Tree near the former restaurant, with its shiny round green globes affixed to its branches. The fruit is inedible, but interesting.

Sausage Tree Bloom

In the meadow, the venerable Sausage Tree, put back up by a kind soul of a landscaper after Hurricane Wilma knocked it over, now shows appreciation for its life by raining large
maroon goblets, strung together on 10 foot long ropes from the canopy.

East of the Splash Deck a few days after a heavy rainstorm, look up and you may see huge white flowers on snake-like stems, the Queen of the Bahamas cactus, winding through the oak treetops. In the lower garden near the Fire Rescue House are several Heliconias,
most notably H. champneiana, with its blood-splashed amber flowers, growing into the water of a small pond.

Red Torch Ginger and Helicona

Turtle Island is overrun gleefully with Red Torch Gingers, as happy as they can be, almost touching the water, alight in scarlet torches. Another giant Torch Ginger from Asia, a yard tall from the ground with its impressive cone-shaped head of flowers, grows east of the Splash Deck.

On the Meadow’s northeast corner, hummingbirds dash in for dinner about 4 P.M., feeding on the hot pink flowers of a field of bromeliads called Portea petro. Its proper species name is long and tortuous, but it’s a favorite of hummers and butterflies, too.

Along the Colonnade there are Clerodendrons of several sorts, as well as Red Firespike
and other butterfly attractors. Stand still nearby, listen very carefully, and you’ll see the dash-and-disappear of hummingbirds in the late afternoon sunlight. If you take some time, you’ll see plants as they flourish and unfold their best habits. We’re trying at many levels to bring you the best experience we can, from the administration to the park service aides to the groundskeepers, we are making your garden the Jewel of Pinecrest.

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