February 22nd, 2012

I know I said the next post would be about the various edible alliums I’m growing under row covers this winter, but we escaped winter for the Florida Keys last week and the pictures from there are much prettier than straw and row covers.

I felt like a total newbie looking at plants down there. What’s that? What’s this? So many things I’d never seen before.

This Key West flowering tree caught my eye. The flowers looked so much like azaleas to me, but then I saw a bean-like seed pod and knew that I was looking in the wrong plant family. Eventually I identified it as Hong Kong Orchid Tree (Bauhinia blakeana). The common name is misleading because it is in the Fabaceae family, not Orchidaceae.

Bauhinia blakeana

Hong Kong Orchid Tree (Bauhinia blakeana)

Bauhinia blakeana

Hong Kong Orchid Tree. Different tree, sunnier day.

I remembered the banyan trees from a previous visit. This one grew a natural arch over the driveway.

Banyan Arch

Banyan Arch

Lots of palm trees, of course. We walked a nature trail in Windley Key Fossil Reef state park, were I learned to recognize the Florida Thatch Palm.

Florida Thatch Palm

Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata)

In this case, I knew the plant (red impatiens, ho-hum), but not the butterfly.

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho, Red Impatiens

They have one of those butterflies-in-the-conservatory tourist attractions in Key West. You all know I like butterflies, right? I recognized none of these butterflies, either. They wanted us to buy a laminated guide for another $2 (or was it $4?), but we weren’t inclined to give them any more money, so we just marveled in ignorance. I did look up the Blue Morpho later on, just because it was so big and colorful. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a nice clear photo of the pretty side of the wings to show you.

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho

You may be familiar with US Route 1 in the DC area? This is where it starts.

US Route 1 Mile 0

US Route 1, Mile 0

Or ends.

US Route 1 End

US Route 1, end

Feral Chickens

Feral Chickens

So a chicken walks into a bar…No joke, I actually saw this happen. Feral chickens are everywhere in Key West, but the one that walked into the bar was domesticated – somebody’s pet. I didn’t get a photo of that one, but I did take a picture of the door it walked through.

The Porch

The Porch, a funky craft-beer bar

Vacations have to end, though.

Key West Sunset

Key West Sunset

7 Responses to “Floridays”

  1. Ray says:

    Ahh, yes. I remember the chickens roaming our feet while we ate outdoors at the Blue Heaven. Wondered if they were tomorrow’s menu specials.

    • Ray says:

      Ahh, yes. I remember the chickens roaming around our feet while we ate outdoors at the Blue Heaven. Wondered if they were tomorrow’s menu specials.

      • entangled says:

        We tried to get into Blue Heaven for breakfast one day, but decided the wait was too long and went elsewhere. I kinda think these very free-range chickens would require very long cooking 😉

  2. Tabor says:

    I miss Florida this time of year. There are lots of feral chickens in Hawaii after the hurricanes as well.

    • entangled says:

      I hadn’t traveled anywhere warm in the winter for a very long time, and couldn’t wait to see green and growing things. Wouldn’t you know, the one year I get away from winter turns out to be a warm winter. I was glad it snowed 2 days after we got back to remind me how it could be this time of year.

  3. Wendy says:

    awesome. I want to go there so bad – and this is just how I picture it.

    • entangled says:

      I think the photos I posted here are just how I picture it too, but Key West has changed a lot in the 26 years since we were last there. There were no cruise ships there then and it was artsy, laid-back, cool, just starting to become popular. Now, a lot of it is just tacky. But if you avoid Duval Street and the very obviously tacky tourist traps, there’s still a lot to like. We plan to go back before another 26 years goes by.

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