The Land of Flowers
It was on this day in 1974 that the Panama City News out of Panama City, Florida published a story about one of Florida's most outstanding horticulturists: Dr. Henry Nehrling, who was an ornithologist, botanist, and plant breeder.
It's been said that during his lifetime, "Every plant lover in Florida knew or knew of Henry Nehrling."
Nehrling's horticultural writings covered a period dating from the early 1890s to the late 1920s.
The esteemed plant explorer David Fairchild said this about Nehrling:
"Dr. Nehrling's writings should be available to the young people who are making gardens around their houses, for they not only give the facts regarding a host of interesting plants from which they may choose, but they tell in narrative form how one who learns to recognize plants can explore for a lifetime the unlimited variety of beautiful forms which compose the plant kingdom."
Nehrling's notes are wondrously inspiring even after all this time.
Here's a sample of some of his quotes:
"Show me your garden, provided it is your own, and I will tell you what you are."
"In both the cultivation, and enjoyment of gardens. Is peace, rest, and contentment. Pleasure is not a luxury of life, but one of its necessities, and ornamental horticulture is one of the truest and most stimulating pleasures in life and may be enjoyed by him who possesses only a window-box, as well as the favored mortal with acres in abundance."
"The cultivation and enjoyment of tropical snd subtropical plants is the noblest, the most delightful, the most satisfying of all earthly pursuits."
"Florida Is the land of almost unlimited possibilities as far as ornamental horticulture is concerned. We are able to grow in the open air hundreds- no, thousands - of species of exquisite tropical and subtropical plants which farther north can only be grown with much difficulty and with considerable trouble In expensive glasshouses."
"Nowhere, have I found such a wealth of beautiful native and exotic plants as in Florida, very aptly called the "land of flowers" and the "paradise of ornamental horticulture".
Even if we were deprived of the exotic vegetation, we would be able to form wonderful gardens by using only the material found In our woodlands and along with our watercourses. There Is no more beautiful evergreen tree in the whole plant world than our glorious evergreen Magnolia grandiflora bedecked with its noble lustrous foliage and embellished with Its snowy-white, deliciously fragrant flower-chalices."
Following Nehrling's death in 1929, his incredible Gardens went untended and became a jungle. Over 20 years passed before the present owner, Julius Fleischmann, came upon the scene. Fleischmann had the heart of a naturalist, and he was determined to make Henry Nehrling's garden live again and did. It took over three years of intensive restoration and development to reopen the garden to visitors in 1954.