Nehrling's Early Florida Gardens

Robert W. Read

Foreword by David Fairchild

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"This book brings about feelings of both envy and gratitude. Envy because Nehrling lived during simpler times when natural Florida was still in its primitive glory. Gratitude for putting it all in elegant prose for future generations of Florida gardeners and explorers."--Roger L. Hammer, Tropical Audubon Society and Miami-Dade Parks Department

"Dr. Nehrling, who fully combined passion for observation with skill in the propagation and cultivation of a variety of species, is one of the real pioneers in the fascinating field of plant introduction. . . . In Dr. Nehrling’s own simple but fascinating language, these stories of a great plantsman . . . tell how one who learns to recognize plants can explore for a lifetime the unlimited variety of beautiful forms which compose the plant kingdom."--David Fairchild, from the foreword to the 1944 edition

First published in the 1940s as My Garden in Florida, these two newly revised and edited volumes by Henry Nehrling (1853-1929) present a remarkable record of Florida’s botanical history and a delightful mixture of observations on the central and south Florida climate and growing conditions. His association with writers, scientists, and travelers presents a window into the gardening community of his era, and his intriguing mixture of subjects furnishes an important source of information for those interested in Florida’s social, botanical, and environmental history.
A noted authority on tropical and subtropical plant lore, Nehrling wrote with passion in a style rich in detail and free from technical jargon, and his plant descriptions and horticultural information are as valuable today as when first written.
In his gardens at Gotha near Orlando and at Naples (now Caribbean Gardens), Nehrling introduced into cultivation and popularized many plant species that have since become common in Florida landscapes. His articles provide invaluable first-hand accounts of the environment in his time, descriptions of natural conditions, and observations of areas no longer undisturbed. More than history, however, these books describe the beautiful tropical and subtropical flora that make Florida the Garden of Eden as we know it today.

Robert W. Read, Botanist Emeritus of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, lives in Naples, Florida. He has contributed articles and served as a consultant on several books, including Blooming Bromeliads. Currently he is a research collaborator at Fairchild Tropical Gardens and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Nehrling’s Early Florida Gardens describes his arrival in Florida, Florida’s climate and soils, the planting of his first garden and his mistakes and failures, the flatwoods, the hammocks, epiphytes, bamboos, magnolias, live oaks, Japanese and Chinese evergreens, the camphor tree, conifers, the myrtle family, oleanders, cycads, bromeliads, air plants, orchids, shade trees and flowering trees, fig trees, sacred trees, vines and sweet-scented plants, flowering shrubs, oleasters, annuals, perennials, and bulbs.

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"A window into South Florida in the early part of the twentieth century. Plants that we have become accustomed to are suddenly fresh again, seen through the eyes of Henry Nehrling. Over and over we are reminded of what a tropical paradise was then. " - Fairchild Tropical Garden, Garden Shop
--Fairchild Tropical Garden

"a valuable reference on subtropical gardening and Florida history." - The American Gardener
--American Gardener

"provide engrossing glimpses of Nehrling's life and the plants he loved." - Ledger

"the prolific Nehrling's passion continues to shine in the writings left behind." "To read the books is to feel acquainted with the amiable Nehrling." - Daytona Beach News-Journal
--Daytona Beach News-Journal

"These two volumes were first published in the 1940s and are basically a botanical history of Florida. Because of Nehrling's eloquent writing, even a novice gardener can enjoy pursuing the vast knowledge in these volumes. At times, you might think you're reading the lyrical prose of a poet." - The Village Sun
--The Villages Sun

"Florida history, Florida garden history, and much of the advice about particular plants remains fresh. If you can't buy them, beg or borrow them."
--Ocala Star Banner

"'Nehrling's Plants, People and Places in Early Florida,' and 'Nehrling's Early Florida Gardens' are important sources for anyone interested in Florida's environmental history." - Tallahassee
--Tallahassee (potpourri)

"These two fascinating books give much more than a historical account of Early Florida. They also serve to introduce and reintroduce many tropical and sub-tropical plant species with down-to-earth, specific information on growing them successfully here. Color plates and black and white photos illustrate both books." - Palatka Daily News
--Palatka Daily News

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