The new Weird Dude's Plant Zoo is located in Collier County, Florida, Zone 10. During the past three winters, however, the area has been colder than normal and has suffered below freezing temperatures for several nights or more. This January 2010 was particularly cold, the 27 degree nights causing the loss of citrus, tomatoes and other produce grown here. It has been odd enough that even the local news anchor commented on it, wondering aloud on-air as to why the change. (Marty has always said, "If I move to a tropical climate, it will all of a sudden freeze." Hmmm....) Nevertheless, we are growing our plants outdoors, protected only by the big laurel oaks and some blankets on those freezing nights, with only a select few brought inside. Our former houseplant Spathiphyllums, Boston Ferns, and spider plants populate parts of our gardens. We are building our new gardens and building our new plant inventory. This is for the second time since coming here, actually, after Tropical Storm Fay passed right over us in August 2008 and dropped something like 52 inches of rain which stuck around several inches deep for over a month on our close-to-sea-level property, drowning our plant stock and gardens. But the show will go on!
We regret that we are unable to accomodate human visitors to the Florida nursery at this time. Besides, you might get scared before you even got here! Our wonderful five acres is at the end of the end of the sand road, which turns into two sand tracks through grass and then into just grass before it turns right into our property.
As the crow flies (or in this case, the egret), we are only a couple tenths of a mile from the boundary of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, an Audubon Society wildlife and plant preserve. The residents of the Swamp Sanctuary visit us upon occasion - yes, including a couple of alligators. We became rather fond of one, a young gator Marty named Karl Gnash Gnarl, but apparently he hopped a bus one night when the pond got low and we haven't seen him since. We miss him sometimes. Henry the Great Blue Heron first visited the end of December 2008 and returns now and then to check out the progress of the plants. Eddie the Egret and his sidekick Little Blue Bill (a Little Blue Heron) are frequent guests when the fishing in the pond is good. Two winters ago, Debbie spent almost an entire day during her visit here watching fascinated as Andy Anhinga spread his wings and strutted on the dock, alternating with diving noisily into the dark water to emerge with a little black catfish in his mouth.
A mating pair of Red Shouldered Hawks, Ray and Henrietta, nests here. Mr. Twirl and his fellow squirrels race across the roof above the bedroom early every morning, and three raccoons, Rocky, Rocket, and their kid Diesel, cavort around the garden bench in the shady part of the yard. Then there are the two huge wild turkeys, three deer, Front Door Bernie and Back Door Ernie (black racer snakes), Gladys the Burmese Python, the Florida panther, the melanistic bobcat, and the troup of sixteen wild hogs which Marty spotted rooting around in the front part of the property one morning.
All in all, it's pretty cool.