Gene Joyner’s Unbelievable Acres Botanical Gardens

Gene Joyner build a rain forest in West Palm Beach that few have visited. Called Unbelievable Acres Botanic Gardens, it is open to the public by appointment or on select tour dates. Featuring rare tropical fruits, foliage plants, flowers, trees and a host of other botanical creatures, many of which you have not seen. Running around are a host of  reptiles that love the heat and humidity, in addition to a bountiful supply of bugs. Its a treasure.

This leaf has a name. I cannot remember all Gene taught me. Years ago, he was the botanist for the State of Florida. This garden/rain forest was built from scratch, by him. You have never seen anything like it.

Baby Alligator

So, we walked at Green Cay, again. Love the place. People smile. Some workout by walking around and around.  Mostly, people want to see an alligator.

Here’s a baby. Mom swam nearby. Several other babies hid in the reeds. A woman standing next to me, photographing with a cell phone complained: “…, hard to get this shot; he has the same coloring at the grass.”

“Yup, I replied, “and it only took 200 million years.” She didn’t laugh, but others did.

See Any Living Things?

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So, for a couple of weeks we haven’t been going out. Holidays have brought friends and relatives to the Sunshine State to escape the unpredictable weather in places north and west. The economy needs them; the environment doesn’t.

A little before noon, a New Englander approached me as I shot in the swamp at the nearby US Wildlife Preserve, Loxahatchee. Identifying himself as a hunter and lobsterman, he asked me if I had seen anything alive. No doubt he meant animals and reptiles who, as an outdoorsman would undoubtedly know, don’t come out in the heat of day. And besides, why would they come out when people were in their home. This isn’t a zoo; it’s a swamp.

Without going into the particulars of my response, let’s just say I pointed to the greenery around us, I noted that swamps were locations full of life and full of death. My simple answer which this image supports is “Yes.”

Moving the Boxes

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Believe it or not, the garbage collection here is pretty picky. Need to reduce cardboard to 3×3 size and they don’t take blank newsprint. We had to take it, ourselves, to the recycling plant. Not a bid deal, this time. It’s right around the corner from where we live. In FL, around the corner is 15 minutes.

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FL takes recycling seriously. State of the art facilities. Recycling isn’t mandatory, a loophole for people who don’t like regulations. Talked to one the other day, a neighbor. He said that he didn’t recycle carefully: “it doesn’t work because so many people don’t do it.”

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No plastic bags.

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Now that we have unpacked most of our boxes, we can get into a routine, again.

Burt Shavitz, Dead at 80

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So, Burt Shavitz died at 80. Another photographer dead, before I could talk with him. I’d like to know what he saw, why he shot what he shot and why he gave it up. I will have to settle for the movie, Burt’s Buzz. And Burt, he probably would not have been too much fun to talk with, even though he was a great man with a big personality who chafed at uniformity and changed the world.

Me. I turned 68 today. I’m alive and well. Couldn’t be happier, as my past drifts farther and farther into the long ago. My wife loves me. Don’t need much more than that.

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Who’s Burt? He’s the guy on the box, at least partially. Everyone knows Burt, from his face. But before he made lip balm and other holistic products, he was a photographer who shot the Civil Rights movement, in addition to the street. Another one of those Jewish guys with the photojournalist gene who left the world better than he found it.

Tired of the rigamarole, he moved to Maine, raised some bees and made cosmetics which could be sold to hippies in health food stores. He cared about the environment and hated hypocrisy. Died rich, despite not needing money. He had land and a family. Me, I got no family, except for Sharon and her relatives. Failed living in the Northern New England way. I have toys to play with and a place to live. Still have some friends, though even though they aren’t close by. Now, I just need to be healthy.

 

Don Featherstone, Dead at 79

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So, always good to leave the world better than you found it, however you do it. Don Featherstone, a man whose name you don’t know, did. His art graces lawns from here to everywhere, unless you live in a gated community where uniformity trumps art. You see the plastic forms and without knowing why, you feel better about life. And, we owe the feeling to some guy who, one day, sitting at work, in a plastics factory, far  away from the Everglades, but obviously close to Wonderland, created a flamingo.

My Kind of Color

A guy stopped me as I shot. “Not a good day for photos, eh?” “Au contraire, monsieur [he wasn’t from Montreal], gray is the favorite color for photographers. I get to control the light. Actually, the scene could use some fog.”

 

I stood and waited for the snow to come. Maybe later. No one walking. Here, I live in one of the coolest and most desirable places, one calling out for attention and its empty. People want the reds and blues and greens. Oh, come to the Lake for its beauty. Let’s go leaf peeping. Nothing wrong with this.

So, I tell the guy my views. As usual, he disagrees. Just like a Vermonter. Every sentence begins with I like it or I don’t like it or I agree or disagree. I want it to stay this way forever. I liked it better when there was a swamp here.”

Larry the Bottleman


Redemption. We seek redemption for different reasons. Larry promotes a clean environment, relying on the arrogance of those who cast their containers aside after binging on the beach. He lives to drink another day, clearing the beach and adjoining land of debris. We get to enjoy the view.