The last day of February and it was a beautiful day so I went down to Leu Gardens. If only I could share the physical sense of being there, especially when I walked through the citrus garden. The overwhelming scent of orange blossom took me back to Spain and happy memories of driving through the acres of orange groves along the Guadalhorce Valley in spring. I saw many lovely flowers, trees and birds today, including lots of "firsts" for me in Florida. A comical red crested woodpecker was hammering its head enthusiastically into one of the tall palm trees, a pair of brilliant red cardinals darted in and out of the bushes and two stately woodstorks were fishing in the lake margins and then, most exciting of all, there was my first alligator!..I have to include my photo here.
This was a small one basking in the sun with another larger one farther up the bank. It is wonderful to see them properly in the wild and not in some awful zoo doing tricks for tourists.
However back to the oxalis. There are about 800 different varieties of oxalis and this one is oxalis latifolia, or broad-leaved wood sorrel. This huge leaf was growing amongst some ornamental grasses in wooded shade by the entrance to Leu gardens. Its whole stem from leaf to root tip is 14 inches long, showing how far it had to grow to find the light. It is considered a weed here but is very pretty and they do in fact grow a beautiful dark purple variety in the gardens here.
On this trip I spoke to Pedro, one of the gardeners who drive around in golf buggies, about permission to take samples for drawing and all seems fine, I just have to ask. I am very pleased as my inspiration from the Mall borders is getting somewhat jaded. The only problem I have, is getting there on my bike. I will return to the hair raising subject of cycling in Orlando, city of cars, soon.