Nehrling’s Early Florida Gardens – Book Review

If you interested in understanding and knowing about the early Florida gardens, landscape, flora, climate and trees, the one book I would recommend is Nehrling’s Early Florida Gardens. it is a must-read for all tree lovers. Below is the excerpt from the book.

“When I first came to Florida in April 1886, I had the impression of being in a Greenland the salubrity of the climate acted like a charm. The beauty of the almost untouched Evergreen woodlands and the Many hundreds of small and large lakes glittering like mirrors in the bright sunshine, impressed me deeply. The diversity of exotic garden flora inspired me with ever-increasing enthusiasm. Masses of orange amaryllis almost Dazzled my eyes. Hundreds of strictly tropical plants, such as I have never before seen in the open-air Grew here in a belt of luxuriance that defied description. Here I saw for the first time how nature plants and embellishes her wild tropical Woodlands Gardens-Gardens in which the Palm is the main object.

   The masses of beautiful tall cabbage Palmettos on the banks of St Johns where Revelation to me. Here they stood in close proximity to each other with scarcely any undergrowth on the forest floor, save some elegant ferns, chaste, pure white, fragrant crinums, and spider lilies. And years of residence in the state have revealed the fact that this irresistible charm, this Indescribable happiness grows as one grows older. Florida is a great silent poem of color and light, of Birdsong and plant Beauty. The glossy foliage of Magnolia grandiflora and other Evergreen Glitters in the bright sunshine, and the place of waters of the Lakes sparkling like mirrors.

   There is no frost line in Florida. Slight white Frost may occur all over the state. Naturally, the northern part of Florida is much colder than the central Peninsula, and the southern or tropical part is almost immune from killing freezes. Central Florida, the orange belt the orange and pomelo in Brackets grapefruit industry is here the main occupation of the people in this part of the state the writer and made his home. the gardens are replete with Palms, bamboos and hundreds and even thousands of different exotic plants.

Only Southern Florida is tropical:

The third part of Florida has termed the capital region that lies south of the above-mentioned line Punta Gorda and Fort Myers, Palm Beach, and Miami, the Royal Palm State Park and all the keys are found in this area. here the pineapple flourishes in the open air. mangoes and sapodillas, avocados and papayas, bananas and other tropical fruit drives here to perfection. Coconut palms and Royal Palms, The Travelers tree of Madagascar, the Royal Poinciana and the Queens crape myrtle, rubber trees and screw-Pines, crotons and ixoras, and thousands of other tropical plants, me too and exotic, combined to imbue The Gardens and parks of this region with a charm not known in any other parts of our great country.

   From November to March it is moderately moist and rainfalls or not infrequent. From March to June the dry season is the ruling factor. Rains are very rare now. The air is exceedingly dry. The dews at this time of the year are very heavy. All the plants are dripping in the morning. These heavy dews are quite sufficient to refresh the trees and shrubs in their dormant condition. The much-regretted forest fires or know of a frequent occurrence. No planting can be done during this period, except after a shower. all trees and shrubs set out now are usually lost if not constantly watered.

Summer constitutes the rainy season

  In the rainy season, the humidity reaches its climax. This period Generally Begins by the middle of June and lasts until October. Those who do not know the rainy season do not know Florida. Dawn is short in these latitudes. each Sunshine is Now a morning of supernal beauty, The sky a fairy tale, the landscape and gardens a love poem.

Most plants from arid regions ill-adapted

  There are some plants from the dry regions of Australia and South Africa and from Chile that dislike this humidity. Many eucalyptus species and Australian acacias are a failure here. Amaryllis belladonna, one of the most Exquisite and most delicious perfume flowers in existence, grows well here, but it never blooms. The white calla lily and the golden calla lily grow well and flower profusely during the winter months, but they begin to rot when the rainy season begins.

Florida soil is largely sandy

Another peculiarity of Florida is the soil. With the exception of the large areas of Muck land, the clay soils of the Tallahassee region and the Rocky surface of extremes Southeastern Florida, the soil is very sandy. The general verdict of the Sojourner from the north is that the soil is worthless. The Tall Pines, the picturesquely old Live Oaks in the grasses and flowers on the forest floor, however, tell a different story. It is true, our High pinelands cannot be compared with the rich Prairie lands and Loamy soils of the north. The almost pure white sand covering the surface is not very promising. The constant forest fires during the dry seasons have deprived our soils of almost every particle of humus. When properly treated, however, this Sandyland of Florida is well adapted for the cultivation of an almost unlimited number of plants. All that is necessary he’s humus, plant-food.The land is usually classified as high Pineland, Flatwoods, high and low hammock, Cypress swamps and Muck plants.

   For Horticultural purposes and for bento homes the high Pinelands are well adapted. Numerous freshwater lakes are all over this region, adding greatly to its attractiveness. oranges and grapefruit grow here to perfection. Originally the soil was covered with the Magnificent growth of Long-leaved Pines interspersed with numerous picturesque Live Oaks and a few Blackjack. After the Pines have been cut down a very dense and bushy growth of Willow Oaks has sprung up, with neat little bushes of huckleberries and blueberries on the forest floor. Pawpaws, The gopher root, Wild persimmons, sumach, and the Briar root smilax Forum de Underwood. Coarse grasses, particularly the Wiregrass, covered the ground everywhere. Whenever this white sandy soil is cultivated for any length of time it assumes a grayish and even dark brown color. Manure and water are the most important factors. With irrigation and sufficient plant food, almost all subtropical plants will grow well here.

  The Flatwoods is the natural flower gardens of the state. During the latter part of the February and in March the whole ground is in some places is often covered with the beautiful Amaryllis-like-Zephr-flower, the larger white blossoms of which perfume the air with a delicate wild-wood fragrance. Here we also find pitcher plants in big patches. The ground densely covered with various grasses is bespangled with bright colored terrestrial orchids, yellow and blue Pinguiculas with colonies of Polygalas. At times masses of various Coreopsis and other composites light up these woods by their yellow color in a most enchanting way. The Tonka-Like-perfume of the so-called Vanilla plant is strongly in evidence in these woodlands during summer and fall and in September the Flatwoods are ablaze with thousands upon thousands of Catesby’s lilies. This is excellent land for farming purposes, velvet beans, sweet potatoes, Yams, Yautias, Taros, Cassava and all kinds of vegetables yield good crops. The higher portions are well adapted for orange and Grapefruit culture.”

– “Nehrling’s Early Florida Gardens”. Henry Nehrling. University Press of Florida, 2001 – Gardening.

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