Garden Fund Newsletter September 2012

The Hidden Garden’s new pathway sponsored by the Garden Fund


Since its formation in 2007, the Community Garden Charitable Fund has been raising money for the beautification of Pinecrest Gardens, a historic piece of property located in the heart of the Village of Pinecrest, Florida. Consisting of fourteen acres of winding pathways, meandering waterways, limestone outcroppings, and a vast array of rare tropical plant life, this once overgrown facility has become a mecca for entertainment, education, and cultural enrichment since it was purchased by the Village in 2002. The Garden Fund concentrates on improving the botanical side of the property, and with monies raised through donations and fundraising events, we have cleaned and replanted the Gardens’ colonnade, its terrace, the perimeter of its amphitheater, and the grotto; we have created a pathway and seating area, purchased trees and orchids, and much more. We believe that a place for quiet reflection amidst the lushness of nature offers a vital sanctuary to the entire community, and with the help of organizations such as ours, this unique and beautiful place will continue to flourish for many generations to


These Gardens are ever-changing, there are always improvement opportunities to be discovered,and we are always on the lookout for areas to focus on. To date, the Fund has underwritten ten major renovations of sections that were previously overgrown and in need of attention, the last two having just been completed. The entire western side of the Banyan Bowl had been mostly devoid of vegetation, and now it abounds with a large collection of anthuriums, sinulosum, and many others, all beautifully designed and installed by Landscapes by Sara. In addition, the Hidden Garden, a project that the Garden Fund undertook in 2009, was just refitted with a picturesque new mosaic tile pathway that mirrors the ones that are found throughout the Gardens’ terrace and meadow. This new addition has greatly enhanced our “pathway off the beaten path”, and now more clearly reflects our original vision of magnificence beneath the ancient hardwood tree canopy.


After months of planning and coordinating endless details, our Sixth Annual Soiree on February 24, 2012 was a huge success! Our volunteers and committees all came together seamlessly, and a wonderful time was had by all. The evening began on the Terrace of beautiful Pinecrest Gardens with cocktails, wine, appetizers, and a huge display of silent auction items. It continued in the meadow where a lavish dinner was served, and the crescendo of the evening took place in the Banyan Bowl when 2012 Grammy winner Stephen Marley rocked the crowd for hours.

Pinecrest Gardens

None of this would have been possible without the help of many dedicated people and sponsors.Thanks to the Village of Pinecrest for the donation of the Gardens and the police, to Gardens’ director Alana Perez and her hard working staff for all the help that they provided,to NCLCruise Line for the donation of a Bahamas cruise, to Maurice’s Jewelers for their contribution to the silent auction, to Whole Foods of Pinecrest and Foley Wines for the donation of wine, to Bacardi USA for the liquor and bartenders,to Big Ron for tending the wine bars, to Johnson & Wales Culinary College for their student volunteers,to Palmer Trinity for their student volunteers, and to Joe Corradino for once again serving as one of our generous sponsors.

We have been blessed with an incredibly dynamic and tireless group of volunteers and many thanks goes to each and every one of them. Our board of directors and event chairs Pat Vandenberg and Lynn Wille Fichman thank committee heads Judy Parker, Sharon Kujawa, Christian Armstrong, Betty McCarthy, Candy McDonald, Ines Mander, Ellen Book, Paul Sasso, and JoAnn Parns, and committee members Barbara Acker, Karen Brinckerhoff, Germaine Butler, Urszula Dudek, Patsy Rodriguez, Eilene Huber, Barbara Pareira, Karen Ross, Susan Randall, Debra Wellins, Brenda Poland, and Amie Hertzig.We’d also like to give a special thanks to Pat Kyle Lawrence of Galloway Farm Nursery for beautifully decorating the Gardens’ entrance, and to our angel in the office, Kathleen Bulger.


by Betty McCarthy

parrot jungleFLY FREE – These evocative words truly cover two aspects of the Parrot Jungle and Gardens,opened December 20, 1937. Franz Scherr, founder and original owner, truly evoked the phrase as an apt description of the life he led. The park was unique in that some of the avian inhabitants, including magnificent, many home-bred macaws did fly freely from their park base wherever their instincts led them, to return at sunset for feed and safe rest.

In author Cory Gittner’s book on this wondrous enterprise, we are told that Scherr found the original inspiration to build this heralded paradise in a conversation he had with the entrepreneur/creator of Miami’s Monkey Jungle. When suggesting more trails as an improvement, Joe Dumond replied:“Oh, why don’t you start your own damn jungle” and Franz Scherr flew to the opportunity, saying; “And it will be a Parrot Jungle!”

The trail-walker visitor sees this carefully preserved bit of “Old Florida” blend seamlessly into new but compatible environments.Those that were later added, such as the flamingo surrounded lake,were as far from today’s “Theme Park” creation as proximity to nature could achieve. There had been moments of doubt, as the location, some 2 miles from highway U.S. 1, defied conventional wisdom, but the Scherr family managed to operate profitably from their Depression era start to the time they ceded control some four decades later.

The property, however, was ideal with the area nearest to Red Road a natural cypress dominated marsh with a water bearing slough. When traversed westward, the hammock beyond was covered with magnificent hardwood stands of live oaks, gumbo limbo’s and other native Florida fauna of great age. Curiously enough, the beauty had attracted and then caused to be dispossessed by the owner, a nudist colony, making it available when Scherr first visited. The hammock, as normal for higher stands found in this area is on top of porous rock, oolite coral. The porosity and natural decline to the proximate Biscayne Bay added the attraction of slow flowing streams underground contributing occasional “Sinkhole” or solution ponds to well water the splendid high growth and provide trailside views of jungle life attracted to such an environment.

Franz Scherr, a peripatetic and driving person from Germany by way of California and Chicago to the South Dade city of Homestead had used his entrepreneurial and workman’s skills to start a successful feed store before the inspiration to create “A Parrot Jungle” struck. These same qualities, coupled with a fertile imagination, carried him through the creation of a circular path around the property to view its treasures and the construction of an attractive if eccentric entrance building still on the East frontage of the property today.


Lynn Wille Fichman, President
Pat Vandenberg, Vice-President
Candy McDonald, Secretary
Ricardo Garbati, Treasurer
Paul Sasso, Esquire

Karen Mashburn, Chairman Emeritus

Christian Armstrong
Annette Bonnier
Ellen Book
Sharon Kujawa
Cedella Marley
Betty McCarthy
Stella McLaughlin
Debra Wellins


Written by Lynn Wille Fichman
Edited by Debra Wellins
Photos & Design by Annette Bonnier

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