NEWS from the BOTANIC GARDEN August, 2020 

Collage of signage from all over the Botanic Garden at Lakes Park

NEWS from the BOTANIC GARDEN at Lakes Park

August, 2020 


Collage of signage from all over the Botanic Garden at Lakes Park


BED REBUILDING PROJECT in the Community Garden

Each year for the past several years, we’ve selected 8-10 raised beds in the Community Garden for replacement. The harsh, extreme weather in Southwest Florida takes its toll on the bed, making them decay and crumble. This year, we hired Inside Out Kitchen & Bath to perform the work. 

Unexpected volunteer helper in the Community Garden

The first volunteer to show up for the project was this praying mantis. After reading what this beneficial insect does for our gardens, you might agree that it could easily be called a “preying” mantis! Check out what UF/IFAS has to say about this bug: CLICK HERE 


Rebuilding the beds in the Lakes Park Community Garden

Community Garden leader Jan Johnson soaked all the targeted beds the day before, to help keep the soil together during the process. The next day, the old frames were lifted off and new frames made of treated wood were built around the dirt.  

DONATIONS ARE NEEDED to Help Rebuild The Community Garden

We’ve been adding enough to our annual budget each year for several years, to address the rebuilding of a handful of beds at a time. There are 74 beds, and we probably have more than 50 left to replace. Some of our garden beds are not rented out but used to grow food for donation to the Community Cooperative during the growing season. Want to help? Click here to donate! 

NEW Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree Installed in Children’s Garden

Parks and Rec staff plants a 12-ft rainbow eucalyptus in the Children's Garden at Lakes Park

Parks and Rec staff plants a 12-ft rainbow eucalyptus in the Children’s Garden at Lakes Park

You may have read in a previous issue of our newsletter about the magnificent old shade tree in the Children’s Garden that had to come down because it had been killed by a lightning strike. After some debate, Foundation Secretary and manager of the Botanic Garden, Kathy Busick, decided upon a rainbow eucalyptus tree as its replacement. 


A 12-foot tree needs a big hole...

A 12-foot tree needs a big hole… 

Joe DeBacker of Parks & Recreation heartily approved of the selection, and a specimen was found. Parks and Rec staffers took the opportunity to have some fun while getting the tree into the ground.

Parks and Rec staff took the opportunity to have a little fun while installing the new tree in the Childrens Garden

YOU’RE awesome… no, YOU’RE awesome! 

It will take a couple of months of extra watering and mulching and TLC to get the tree established. Once it takes hold in the Garden, it will grow at the astounding rate of around three feet per year, up to 100 feet tall.

Read more about the rainbow eucalyptus and see a picture of its colorful bark by visiting Science Friday – CLICK HERE. 


What’s Bloomin’ in the Botanic Garden

Lakes Park Botanic Garden Sign

Here’s this month’s Garden Report from Kathy Busick: 

Gardening in the summer presents many challenges. We finally have the much-needed rains to nourish our gardens. The tropical plants and trees are growing quickly and blooming in abundance. The hot humid oppressive weather limits the number of hours we can work in the garden each day. Our volunteer numbers are greatly decreased, yet we manage to accomplish so much to maintain the gardens. Do have to admit that the weeds are winning the battle. Unfortunately, due to county budget constraints we are unable to mulch the garden beds to keep the weeds in check. 

A specimen in the Heritage Croton Preserve at Lakes Parks Botanic GardenThe Heritage Croton Preserve –

Recently we decided to tackle the greatly overgrown Croton and Copper Leaf area. We knew there were many different varieties but were impressed at how many there actually were in this area. Now that the area has been trimmed and thinned out, you can really appreciate all the different colors and leaf shapes. If you visit, see if you can find the one called Oak Leaf. Paula Novander has taken on the challenge to identify as many Crotons as she can. We gathered up many of the Croton branches to propagate. It is a project we are working on in conjunction with the park staff to add low cost plantings to the front entrance.


The passion vines on the trellis in the Rose Garden, are starting to grow. The gulf fritillary caterpillars have already found the Maypop and munched it right down. The Lady Margaret Red passion vine is faring a bit better as it was larger to begin with. Fortunately, we planned for the possibility of this happening, by propagating 5 new Maypop in a covered area and will bring them to the garden when they are large enough to survive a caterpillar attack. It’s wonderful when you can work together for a common goal. I think this will be the start of something big.

Tie Die Wind Hibiscus

Tie Die Wind (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis); originates in Tropical Asia 


The Pollination Station in the Children’s Garden is bursting with color and new growth. The different vines are going to need larger support trellis going forward. If anyone in the community has a trellis they are no longer using and would like to donate, just bring it to the gardens any Monday or Thursday morning. You can drop it off in the back of the Fragrance Garden by the sheds, also.

The Lakes Park Botanic Garden is gorgeous in the summer time

The Lakes Park Botanic Garden is gorgeous in the summertime. 


We would love to share the joys of summer gardening with any Registered Lee County Volunteer or Master Gardener who would like to help keep Lakes Park looking amazing. If you have a few hours to volunteer please contact me, Kathy Busick ( You’ll love working with the A-team of volunteers.