The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Mary Honrud
For the Courier 

Beaches, Landscapes and Palms


January 22, 2020

Mary Honrud / For the Courier

Sea shells and sharks teeth: the longer shells are about 3".

We are winding down our Florida sojourn. I am not looking forward to returning from this green semi-tropical paradise to our frozen white tundra.

The grandsons had a weekend off from hockey, so we took advantage of that and visited a beach. Shark Tooth Beach, near Venice, Fla., has darker sand than other beaches we've been to on previous Florida trips. It's fossiliferous sand, formed from the sea life that was left behind when the waters receded millennia ago. Apparently, a lot of that sea life was sharks. While their bodies and bones disintegrated, their teeth became fossilized and are still here.

You can rent, or purchase at hardware stores, on the pier a "Florida snow shovel" to use in trying to dredge up those teeth. Said shovel is basically a rectangular wire mesh basket attached to a bent and sturdy handle. You wade out into the waves, scoop up a basket of sand, and let the wave action rinse out the sand and smaller bits of seashells. Then you sort through the larger shells left in the basket, hoping to find a blackened, fossilized tooth. It's strangely addictive, holding your balance as the waves batter at you, scooping sand up and sorting through it. We did find a few, we believe. And yes, I also snagged some (mostly) intact shells to bring home. The boys are keeping all the teeth.

I've found myself admiring again the plants used in landscaping the neighborhood here. This area is Zone 9B to 10A, while we are Zone 3 to 4 at home. Plants we need to baby in Montana will thrive outdoors here. The perennials here in Florida are lucky to be grown as annuals there in Montana.

The yards abound with colorful dracaenas, peace lilies, elephant ears, many varieties of bromeliads, as well as plants I haven't got names for. There are lots of poinsettias planned outside, and New Zealand impatients. I'm so jealous.

Many of those plants I've had as houseplants over the years. Some have survived under my slapdash care, while some have quickly succumbed. I blame some of those deaths on cold drafts, or power outages when the indoors temperature dropped too low for their delicate systems. Some I can blame myself for, from not watering or fertilizing them properly.

Besides the various pines I talked about last week, there are many varieties of palms. The scrub palmetto flowers in the spring and summer, to produce small black berries. They can live over 100 years, and reach heights of four to six feet, with a similar spread.

The saw palmettos are flammable, so not recommended to be placed near homes. They'll have yellow/white flowers in the spring, and also form round black fruits. They'll range from three feet to ten feet tall, and can spread to ten feet wide.

The dwarf palmetto forms a fruit the wildlife likes. (I haven't checked on whether the other palm fruits are edible by humans.) These palms are four to nine feet tall, and four to eight feet wide. I'm not sure I could differentiate between the scribe, saw, and dwarf varieties. All of the palmettos are hard to transplant I've read. And yet, they're everywhere.

The yards here are all nicely landscaped. Obviously someone planned ahead, unlike me. My yard grew in bits and pieces over the years, when I had time to add beds, or the money to invest in perennials. I've reached the stage of acceptance: it is what it is. I don't have the energy or ambition to change it.


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