Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why I love South Florida:

The other weekend when I went to visit my family in South Florida, our neighbor told us about this orchid nursery in Homestead, RF Orchids. and we had to go. We didn't plan on buying orchids, but the grounds behind the nursery were amaaazing. The landscaping was inspiring and everywhere you looked were perfect specimens of tropical plants.

We arrived just in time for the tour and saw this pond that the owner built out of a small sinkhole. I think he had a sinkhole originally and made it bigger, stocked it with catfish, sharks and a baby alligator that seems to be replaced every time it grows too big and poses a threat to the visitors. I'm not sure how I feel about using the alligator like that and then getting rid of it when it's no longer useful... but my dad and I were instantly in love and wanted to dive in and swim around. Of course we were on a tour and didn't do that, but I'm sure had it been a friend's pond, my dad wouldn't have hesitated.
The owner added two waterfalls that blend in naturally with the rest of the structure. The tour guide told us that the water is natural springwater. I am surprised that it is so clear like North Florida Springs. Obviously I know nothing about geology but I wasn't expecting water from the Biscayne Aquifer to be so clear!
At the end of the tour, you end up in the greenhouses and can look at all the different orchids, and smell them too! Obviously at this point you're supposed to buy orchids, but I'm pretty sure I would kill it immediately (I am still amazed my african violet is blooming again). While we were looking around an employee came around and offered us cups of iced passionfruit juice.

For the past three months, I would get random phone calls from either my dad or my sister telling me they were at our neighbors visiting the cockatoos and they would gush on about how amazing these birds were. Then they would put the phone up to the birds and I would sit there and hear garbled noise. Feigning interest I always quickly found a reason to hang up. I couldn't understand why they were so obsessed with these birds. We've always been a furry/cuddly pet family, not highly excited by birds or reptiles.
But the last time I was home I got to meet them and boy are they fun! I don't remember this one's name, but he has peach underneath his little crest of feathers and loves it when you reach into his feathers and kind of massage his scalp. I was shocked at how friendly and affectionate these birds were. As soon as I paid attention to the other one, which was plain white, this salmon colored one would start flapping his wings and shrieking because he wanted attention and petting!
Here is Kokomo. I only remember his name because it was all my sister could talk about for practically a week straight. Also, he likes to bounce up and down repetively and sing "Kookooomoooooo". It's pretty adorable. Apparently Kokomo isn't allowed to sit on the Frangipani tree like the salmon colored one because he kept picking at the bark with his beak. So he sat on the hula hoop hanging from the tree. As soon as I would walk by the hoop, he'd hold out one of his feet (claws?) in the direction of my arm. I moved my arm closer to see if he'd come on it and he instantly did! Then he would walk all over my arm, up onto my shoulder, switch onto another arm a couple times.
When it was time to go, he wouldn't leave my arm and get back on the hula hoop! I had to give him to his owner who had a little more control over the bird.
This statue was sitting at the entrance to the orchid house, guarding over a small koi pond. I liked how they placed some fresh orchicds in his arms.