A northerner vacationing in Florida—especially a Buffalonian—must be well-fortified against the mock-sympathetic hilarity that will greet him or her when place of origin is revealed. Most of the people who currently live in Naples aren’t from there either, but that doesn’t stop them from being smug about the weather.
We’re used to it though, so during a recent vacation down there, I tolerated the merriment, only occasionally protesting that it doesn’t quite snow year-round where I live.
After all, I should feel lucky to be in this paradise—and I like lying around on the beach sipping margaritas as much as anyone. But once away from the ocean (a sight that never palls), why does paradise have to look so … boring? Most of the landscaping in Naples looks like it was executed by a Marine Corps-trained team armed with electric clippers and directed to “trim first, ask questions later.” A shame really, because many of the flowering shrubs that had been cut into box shapes were currently in bloom.
The closest we got to flora in a more or less natural state was at the local zoo/conservancy (visited under protest); there was also a lovely mangrove preserve (shown above) that we walked through every day on the way to the beach. My favorite example of plant life kept under rigorous control was at the local library,
where a luxuriant stand of ferns was being thoroughly groomed, all the better to frame the “No Skateboarding” sign. I did feel sorry for my mother-in-law, whose gardenia was cut back to the ground by an over-zealous maintenance guy while she was up north. She would have had buds otherwise.
It’s interesting to see cultivars that I normally think of as houseplants flourishing in the wild, but sad to see them used in such unimaginative ways. Heck, here in the frozen tundra we do much more creative public and private plantings, even under the duress of our unlivable climate and limited plant palette. You have to take the good with the bad when you’re in paradise, I guess.