Swamped

A trip to Orlando yesterday to pick up rentals for the wedding of a friend’s daughter provided a good excuse to slog through the muck north of Lake Jesup to get an up close look at the swamp sunflowers.

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Exiting off SR 417 on Lake Mary Boulevard and then driving about five miles, including down a one lane road, we found the parking area at the trailhead at the Lake Jesup Conservation Area (Marl Bed Flats Trail).

An article describing the place to get a look at the flowers suggested taking the red trail for the best view but warned that this trail is wetter and muddier than the yellow one. What’s a little mud? We’d brought shoes that could withstand some mud. In fact, we were well prepared: boots, long pants, long sleeve shirts, hats, and insect repellent.

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Fortunately there was no need for bug spray, but it was all I could do to keep the swamp from gobbling up my shoes. And the sounds of unseen gators bellowing somewhere to my left made it difficult to really enjoy the beauty of the millions of yellow flowers.

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Finally we reached drier ground where either the gators were sleeping or far enough away to no longer frighten me. Time for pictures.

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If you plan to see the swamp sunflowers along Lake Jesup this year, you don’t have any time to waste. They’re already past their peak. Or you might just want to add this to your calendar for late September or early October 2016. But, I recommend taking the yellow trail.

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Leu Gardens: A Place to Unwind

For years, we’ve said we wanted to visit Leu Gardens in Orlando, and last Saturday, we spent a couple of hours walking through the herb, butterfly, palm, bamboo, and camellia gardens. What a great way to unwind!

IMG_6064Located on Lake Rowena, the 50 acre garden displays the exotic plants collected by Harry P. and Mary Jane Leu from their travels throughout the world.

A two acre tropical stream garden and a 50 foot floral clock are two of the must see features at Leu Gardens.

IMG_6100In addition to the current Ribbit the Exhibit’s, display of human-sized frogs located in the garden, there are a variety of permanent displays of art including outdoor sculptures like “Girl on a Scooter” by Peter Oftinski and “Doves of Peace” by Bob Winship.

And as a cemetery lover, I found a bonus: the Mizell Cemetery.

There are lots of reasons for a return visit since the large variety of flowering plants provide a different experience each season of the year; but I think we’ll be back for Date Night in the Gardens, a time to spread out a blanket with a picnic dinner for an outdoor movie.

Glad we finally carved out time for this little piece of paradise in the City Beautiful.