First published on September 16, 2010.
Photo Album from Florida's 2009/2010
By Ginny Stibolt (Listen to a podcast GardenFests.)
As part of my self-designed and self-funded book tour of
Florida this year, I attended 11 garden fests. These events afforded a
great opportunity to sell my book, because the
attendees were gardeners. This album is an adjunct to my guest rant
over on gardenrant.com.
This is a pictorial trek of these fests in chronological
order. The ones
where I was a vendor with my table and green umbrella, I did not take as
many photos as the ones where I was just a speaker. But with a few exceptions I did take at least some photos of each event.
Here I am at the St. Augustine Garden Fest, which was held
at the Agriculture Extension Service property. Quite a picturesque
location, don't you think??
Day at Heathcote Botanical Gardens on October
17, 2009. in Ft. Pierce was a collaboration
between the local chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society
and the Gardens and was the first such event. There were
20 or so vendors and 19 speakers, but the weather was not that
cooperative and when it started raining harder in the afternoon,
the event was cancelled. Almost 200 people paid the standard admission for the gardens.
There were a number of good educational booths
including the local state park and a bird demo by the local
wildlife center. www.heathcotebotanicalgardens.org/
I met up with Terri
Pietroburgo, the pawpaw lady, at most
of the festivals around the state. She brings her pawpaws
in wagons specially outfitted for the tall narrow pots she
uses. There are various green businesses that exist on festival
selling alone in Florida.
Fall Harvest and Scarecrow Festival at Fairchild Tropical
Gardens in Coral Gables was started in 2008, but it has
become quite popular with the locals--already. This
year it was held on October 24 & 25, 2009.
<< I spoke on both days of the festival
and the bookstore sold my books. The second day my topic
was rain gardens--my most often presented topic as part of my sustainability
The vendors were oriented around the harvest and
a large percentage of the plants to buy were the edible
varieties. The tastings of tropical fruits and the sale of
produce almost made this event feel like a farmers market in a
way. The attendees paid the normal garden entrance
fee and over two days--there were nearly 6,000.
They also had a book-ended event in April on the
other side of the winter growing season on the same weekend at
the St. Petersburg Green Thumb Festival. www.fairchildgarden.org/
wide variety of plant and food vendors created a
"Ask the Expert" booth was a free-form Q &
The demo tent (shown to the right and below) was
the site of numerous hands-on activities. People crowded
around for each one. Since this was a harvest festival,
most of the topics covered in the tent were related to growing
And then there were the
scarecrows. A fundraising effort to purchase more fish for
the ponds to attract more birds.
To the far left is Dr. Fairchild himself
with his coconut head. Below is my favorite, an entry from the
parks department, a Spanish moss covered gnome with
birdfeeders hanging from the arms. As I said, fun
and my favorite won the competition.
3) The Jacksonville Arboretum
is just getting started, but they attracted a pretty good sized
crowd for their first anniversary celebration on November 14,
2010. This is a free event and I'd estimate the crowd at
Above: guided walks were popular with all
<<The kids activities tents were
This gopher tortoise made a appearance right
behind my booth. These endangered animals dig deep
tunnels and unfortunately sometimes get buried alive when
developers don't have them removed before starting their
grading. The Arboretum is one of the approved relocation
There were plenty of native plants from
which to choose.
The arboretum may be new, but they have lots
of signs and good walking trails. www.jacksonvillearboretum.org/
4) The Vero Beach Gardenfest
took place in a city park on February 6 & 7th was an
excellent event, but somehow I didn't take any photos. There are
plenty of photos on their website. I was working in the
Vero Beach Magazine booth--I've been their garden writer for
several years. The magazine is one of the major sponsors
of the event. I was also one of the speakers in the
"Ask the experts" tent. This set up was a
presentation type of schedule where the expert gave a short talk
and then the attendees asked questions. This was the ninth year
and is an event that includes lots of groups that help organize various
aspects. They had 78 vendors and estimated the attendance
at over 20,000. www.gardenclubofirc.org/Gardenfest.html
5) The first annual Amelia Island
Gardenfest took place in a city park and modeled itself
after the Vero Beach event--there's no overlap in markets since
it's a 5-hour drive between the cities. They had an
invitation-only arrangement for their vendors and had
approximately 50. I worked with Reflections of Nature, a
local native plant nursery. The entrance fee was $2 and the
crowds were probably more than 3,000. www.ameliagarden.com/
6) The 16th Annual Marion County
Master Gardener Spring Festival held on March 13 &
14, 2010 was a partnership between the master gardeners and the
agricultural extension service.
It was held at the fairgrounds where 99 commercial vendors
bought booth space and another 12 or so informational booths
were manned in a separate tent. They charged $1 for adults and they counted
9,046 paid attendees. I worked in the Nature Nook Books
booth and I'm surprised I did not take photos, but we were
pretty busy. www.marioncountyfl.org/CountyExtension/Gardening_SpringFest.aspx
Annual Wildflower and Garden Festival in
DeLand March 27, 2010 is mainly organized by the downtown
merchants and is held on several blocks of the city's main
street. Florida's Wildflower Foundation and the local
agricultural extension service were co-organizers.
The Wildflower Foundation is supported in part
by sales of special Florida license plates. They also sell
native wildflower seeds and and other products with the help of
a lot of volunteers. >>
<< One of the beautiful posters provided by the Florida
The butterfly release in the afternoon added to the
Don't you just love that gardeners are not shy about
showing their affection for plants? I met Walter Kingsley Taylor,
author of A Guide to Florida's Grasses--I bought his
book. The local chapter of the Florida Native
Plant Society manned a booth.
made their presentations in the historic Athens Theater at the end of
the street. >>
<< Vendors arranged themselves along the generous brick
sidewalks and sold plants of all sizes, garden art, and other
related stuff. The downtown merchants supplied the food.
10th annual Spring Fever in the Garden in
Winter Garden April 10 & 11, 2010.
This was a great garden fest, which took over ten blocks in
downtown Winter Garden. Again I don't know why I did not
take more photos, but I was pretty busy in my booth and during
my stint in the "Ask the Expert" booth.
Fever is cosponsored by the Bloom 'n Grow Society and the City
of Winter Garden. It was inspired by the Mt. Dora Garden
Fest, which is one I did not attend. The 200+ vendors,
plein-air artists recorded the festival the way they saw it,
chalking it up art contest in front of City Hall, and The
KidZone attracted more than 20,000 attendees.
ladies dressed up as seed packets were giving away seeds to
promote more flower growing and gardening in general.
The 15th annual EPIC St. Augustine Flower & Garden Expo April
17 & 18, 2010.
This takes place on the county agriculture
grounds and building. EPIC Community Services sponsors
this and few other events in St. Augustine as fundraising activities.
flower show and speakers were inside the building; the vendors
and food were outside located along a path and lakeshore. Co-sponsors
include the local garden clubs that organize the traditional
flower show, the St. Augustine Piece-Makers, who put on a
wonderful quilt show in another building, and the county's
master gardeners, who provide the majority of the food and they
sell plants as well. There is also a good-sized community
garden on this property and the master gardeners provided tours.
The entry fee was $5 for both days and
included a shuttle service to a large parking lot nearby. From native water plants to African violets and
planters, the twenty or so vendors provided a pretty nice
selection. Over the weekend more than 2,000 people
<< I bought this white scarlet
hibiscus there and here it is blooming by my own pond a
month or two later. One of the reasons for buying
this plant to adorn my table is that lots of folks stopped
to ask if it was legal. The leaves look suspiciously
like some other plant. I had my copy of Gil Nelson's
"Best Native Plants for Florida" book-marked to
show them what the flower would look like. It's
always good to have a conversation starter.
The walk through the gardens was populated by a string of
vendors and the quilt show was at the building at the end of the
walkway. Most of these photos were taken early in the
morning before the crowds arrived. A very nice local show...
The 24th Annual St. Petersburg Green Thumb
Festival April 24 & 25, 2010.
Coordinated by the city's parks department with several
partner organizations, including the regional garden clubs, the
county extension service, the newspaper, chamber of commerce,
the model railroad society, and more.
It took place in a large city park where there
were 144 vendors, a flower show in the community building, a
speakers' tent, and services such as free butterfly plants,
inexpensive native trees, free mulch, garden tool sharpening,
plant diagnostics, and more.
More than 20,00 people attended over the two days.
have been coming to this fair for a long time and were prepared
with their own garden wagons. Not only could you purchase
milkweed plants to attract monarch butterflies, you could bring
home a monarch caterpillar!
Most of the vendors took great care to make their
displays of plants and garden art as attractive as possible.
Wouldn't you buy some of those sunflowers? >>
Of all the garden fests that I attended, this was
one of the most impressive on many fronts. After 24 years,
they have built up a local following and people spend all day at
the various talks and activities. Fun and I sold a pile of
And for those interested in replacing all lawns, here is a
good example where a massive "mixed-turf" lawn is put
to good use--onsite parking for the hordes of St. Pete.
11) Party for the Planet!! at
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Sanford on May 15, 2010.
This was the first such celebration--it attracted 1800
attendees and almost 50 vendors.
This was not a garden fest per se, but I've included it
because there were some good ideas.
Some of the vendors were outside the zoo gates, so there
was no admission to see them. Many of the entertainment
and activities were inside the zoo grounds, so people had to pay
the regular zoo admission price to attend. Nike provided a
$5 deduction in admission to all who brought in old sneakers to
recycle--662 pairs were collected.
There were many activities for people
lines in the trees, teenage American Idol-type singing contestants, sign-ups
for an adventure camp,
and oh yes, you could learn about native plants, state parks,
greener living, and saving water. In short--a party for
Thanks to everyone who organized these events.
I was honored to be a speaker at many of them,
plus I enjoyed
myself, learned useful information and sold a lot of books!
~ ~ ~
Ginny Stibolt would like to hear from readers who have
suggestions and questions. After all, there are more than a few
transplanted gardeners Florida trying to figure out what works and what
doesn’t in planting zone 8/9. She's wrote, "Sustainable Gardening
for Florida," published by University Press of Florida that was
released in 2009. Now she's written "Organic Methods for Growing
Vegetables in Florida" with Melissa Contreras who gardens in Miami.
The new book was released in Feb 2013. You may contact her or read extra
details on her articles and other information posted on her website: www.greengardeningmatters.com.