Nancy and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and it tried to kill us. Stick a fork in us, we were done in two-and-one-half hours. Granted, it has been a few years since we last enjoyed the exuberance of youth but finished off in two hours? I think the plant sale, which was in an open area with no shade, was the cause of our near-demise. But gee, the plant sale is why we went.
The Zoo also tried to make off with my wallet. Geezers like me get a discount on the admittance fee but the discounts end there. Each time you buy one of the additional tickets, they strap a paper bracelet on your wrist. We looked like escapees from a mental hospital with all the different colored bracelets. The red bracelet made us look especially dangerous.
I would highly recommend Zoo train tickets for Geezers so you don’t find yourself too pooped to walk yourself out of there. The train conductor said the Zoo was on 130 acres, 90 of it developed along the Trout River. The Zoo map was rectangular-shaped with one of the short ends at the Trout River or about 7 inches. The long end of the rectangle was almost 16 inches. I was never good at higher math but that 16 inches must surely be more than 40 acres (higher math: 90 x 40). Most of the Zoo could be reached from the Main Path which runs through the middle of the animal exhibits but the map did not mention how many MILES you would be hoofing if you took that path and all the side paths off of it.
At the plant sale, we learned that 5,000 plants we didn’t get to see left the Zoo with new owners the previous day. Heart-wrenching. There’s no telling what we missed but I’m not good with crowds. We even arrived at 9:30 a.m. to avoid crowds.
Here’s my garden loot:
The milkweed was purchased because I was re-inspired by Cee’s monarch hatching. I had a lot of fun several years ago watching the caterpillars grow and become monarchs. The cleome was not a particularly wise choice because it’s an annual but it was $5 and a foot taller than its one-gallon pot. I have loads of seeds if I had time to plant them. I purchased the Hummingbird Bush, Anisacanthus, because a Zoo employee was raving about it as a hardy bush for bees, birds and butterflies. The Jumpseed, or Pink Knotweed, caught my eye. The leaves have a dark chevron marking with odd pink blooms standing above the plant (it reminded me of the Eyeball Plant). It is a shade-loving perennial. The Zoo was growing it in the Butterfly Garden as a groundcover. Research indicates some people grow it in hanging pots or above-ground arrangements where it can cascade downwards. However, some forms of it can be invasive and since it is not clear to me whether or not I have the invasive variety, I will grow it in a pot.
The Butterfly Hollow had the largest, healthiest stand of geraniums I have ever seen. It was about 3 feet tall and growing in a 4 or 5-foot long row and is probably red to match another plant growing near it. Then again, it might be white for contrast:
I’ve always wanted to grow Pincushion flowers and I have the seeds but let’s not talk about all the seeds I’ve purchased that have never made it into the ground. At least now I know, from the Butterfly Hollow, that it grows as a low groundcover. I believe the Zoo had the annual version, scabiosa atropurpurea because the flowers were very small. There’s also a perennial version, scabiosa caucasica, , that has 2 to 3-inch flowers.
The remainder of Zoo plants I photographed were in the Asian Bamboo Gardens which also had several plein air painters working in the garden. I didn’t photograph the artists because I would need permission and did not want to disturb them.
These are the only animals I got close enough to photograph and wouldn’t you know it, they weren’t even awake:
Obviously, I liked this as much as someone at the Zoo. It was near the Zoo’s train station at the Trout River.