For 17 years, Flamingo Gardens has gathered plant experts, landscapers, and other gardening connoisseurs to its annual festival. This year, the Broward Bonsai Society joins in the fun with an exhibition of the varied shapes and levels of perfection its miniature trees can hold. Displays from Alexander Farms, Greenhouse Orchids, and other vendors entice the eyes while guests wander about, taking in colorful performances from butterfly stilt-walkers and West African drummers. At the Butterfly Encounter, guests learn lepidopterist lore from expert Mike Rich while feeding live butterflies and teaching them about the updated food pyramid.
Wee ones, meanwhile, can head to the Kids Gardening Zone to decorate their own pots and plant a seed or romp through the gardens on a scavenger hunt. Plant experts also hold classes and demonstrations, including "Mounting Orchids & Basic Orchid Culture," and take guests on guided tours through the botanical gardens.
To properly care for these baby birds, SNC's professional staff and volunteers feed them, supply a heat source, and give medication when needed, along with keeping the bird enclosures clean. When the birds are ready, they're moved to larger cages, and finally move to the flight aviary where they strengthen their wings. The SNC relies on donations to help it accommodate the extra charges it receives during breeding season, including the costs of purchasing specialized food and other necessary resources to care for the birds.
Laced with the sounds of water churned by unseen forces, the thick air that hangs above the Everglades whispers the rhythms of gator country. The murky water—obscured further by curtains of cattails and floating lily pads—defies human incursion, its protective spells demystified only by the airboat captains of Sawgrass Recreation Park, who gamely shuttle laypersons through the swamp in tours by day and night. While gliding across the shallows at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, guides halt the propellers of their enormous fans to point out wildlife—which include alligators and various waterfowl—and impart nuggets of history from the days when the Seminole and panther once shared their claim over the terrain. As a part of a conservationist group's effort to educate the public about ongoing rescue efforts in the Everglades, the exotic-wildlife exhibit brings guests face to face with the swamp's most majestic rarities, including black leopards and Florida panthers. In the park's reptile exhibit, dozens of scaly creatures count among them a 1,000-pound alligator named Cannibal, and guests can cradle prehistoric cuties in the Hold a Baby Alligator experience. The swamp-yard-animals exhibit encourages guests to meet or catch a glimpse of pigs, bunnies, and ducks, letting guests establish a deeper bond with the denizens of the swamp.