Lower Gardens

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lower-garden

The Lower Gardens include some of the wettest and densest areas of the Gardens. The old Snapper Creek channel spills freshwater into several small ponds, the Cypress Slough, and other swampy areas. Rare tropical plants grow exuberantly, protected from drying and chill winds. Species that are challenging to cultivate locally, such as Lipstick Palm and various aroids like Swamp Taro (Cyrtosperma merkusii) and Water Banana (Typhonodorum lindleyanum), thrive in the deep soil formed by the accumulation of many years of fallen Bald Cypress leaves. Abundant Traveller’s Tree (Ravenala madagascariensis), an early Parrot Jungle planting, grow tall in the moist environment.

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Pacu (Piaractus Brachypomus) school in the largest pond. In their native Brazilian habitat, these primarily fruit-eating fish play an important role in seed dispersal during annual flooding of the Amazon. The three sunken basins nearby, formerly used to display alligators, now provide sheltering conditions for smaller fish and aquatic plants.

 

Coastal Cypress Slough

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The initial interest by Franz and Louise Scherr in developing a public display garden was sparked by the beauty of a vanishing remnant of natural Florida, a Coastal Bald Cypress Slough. The Gardens’ surviving old-growth Bald Cypresses (Taxodium distichum) began growing long before the modern era, when large-scale drainage projects permanently changed the South Florida landscape. The oldest individuals might pre-date even the Spanish colonial period. 

Coastal sloughs arose in locations that channeled the abundant freshwater of the Everglades to the fringing mangrove estuaries along Biscayne Bay. Most were destroyed when their life-giving waters were diverted; valuable Bald Cypress trees were logged for their rot-resistant wood. The magnificent trees survive at Pinecrest Gardens as a living landscape legacy.