April 14 – Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens

This afternoon we visited the Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, a little over an hour south of Sarasota. 

Roger, a 1963 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and retired CEO and Chairman of the Board of McDermott International, one of the world’s largest off-shore oil companies, which also, at the time, was the parent of the Babcock and Wilcox Companies, and Linda Tetrault began with 27 acres of uplands and wetlands. They conceived the idea of creating botanical gardens with world-class sculptures and an art gallery, while still preserving the natural environment and formed the Tetrault Family Foundation to fund and develop this project.  In doing so, this foundation will be providing the people of Charlotte County Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens.

As the facility opened just six months ago, many of the botanical plantings have not yet matured.  

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern Leaves

Spinich Plant  (edible flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae native to central and western Asia. Its leaves are eaten as a vegetable when cooked.)

Ponytail Palm  (a member of the lily family, it has a unique feature in the swollen base of the trunk, which is where it stores a reserve of water making it highly tolerant to drought. The texture of the trunk looks and feels like an elephant’s foot from which  clusters of long strap-like leaves arch and droop gracefully from the trunk giving the impression of a  tropical palm.)

Pineapple Plant



Julie's Pride Hibiscus

Fashion Star Hibiscus

Caijun Maiden Hibiscus

Cathedral Oak  (a variety of Live Oak, prevelant throughout the Southeastern United States)

Leaves of the Cathedral Oak are more like those of a Jade plant than those of the broadleaf oaks we are used to in the Northeast

Barbara Krast Bougainvillea

Banana Tree

Immature Bananas

African Iris

A wide variety of palms

However, the sculptures are magnificient, expecially those depicting people which look so life-like.

"Fluer"  –  A 9-foot stainless steel fountain with water spilling over the top edge

"Tree Trellises"  –  Each of these three rebar sculptures stands 20-foot tall, has a 22’-foot diameter canope at the top and is planted with a different color of climbing bougainvillea.

"The Wave"

"Yellow Andy" Worhol

"The Ostriches"  –  Originally a computer-generated, graphic design, the Metropolitan Ostriches first took physical shape when an Italian government official decided they would be interesting placed among the cypress trees in Chianti Sculpture Park. The graphic design was created in aluminum and then painted. They have been seen in Pievasciata, Province of Siena, Tuscany, Italy – and are now at their permanent home, greeting guests, here at Peace River Botanical Gardens

"Glass Fronds"  –  Composed ot plate glass, anodized  aluminum and stainless steel, these 13-foot high and 6-foot wide scuplurte presently resides on the Tetrault's private residence .

which is slated to become the home of the Peace River Gardens' Art Museum

"Keel"  –  Constructed of 23 individually scuplted lava rocks.  Despite one of its components weighing over 5,000 pounds, it is located in a patch of upland marsh.

"The Thinker"  –   Its design was suggested by August Rodin’s “Thinker” but made more contemporary by clothing him in casual jeans, running shoes and a ball cap. The original Rodin is a nude.  The stone table top and cube benches are rough cut Carrara marble, from a quarry in Tuscany, selected by the artist. These sculptures are a lovely invitation for guests to sit and take in the scenery.

"Rondelet"  –  A highly polished aluminum kinetic sculpture with circular forms that shine, spin and oscillate in even a very light breeze … reflection nature all around it.

"Steel Palm"  –  The Garden's signature sculpture was designed in 2010 and fabricated and installed in 2012. The primary material is COR-TEN® steel, which is intended to rust to a patina over many years of weathering in the sea air. The base and lightning electrical grounding are covered with river stones.  The sculpture is eighteen feet tall and is positioned at the highest point in the Sculpture Garden.

It's design was taken from a 50-million-year-old stone palm frond fossil.

This enables visitors to gain different perspectives as they approach it from different directions and distances.

There are two specific locations (directly in front or in back of the sculpture) from which its individual components perfectly align to appear as if a singular piece of sculpture, rather than being comprised of fourteen stem-and-blade components  … ranging from 1,200 to 2,200 pounds each … independently mounted one behind the other.

Amazingly, these blades move even in light breezes.

"Man in Red"

"Next Summer"  –  A life-like bronze and steel structure located in the lower pond.

"New York City Slicker"  –  Sculpted in bronze and stainless steel, this piece appears to float in the upper pond.

"Monument of Fire and Harmony"

"Bibi on the Ball

Intersperced are large, realistic paintings of native flowers.

Yellow Bougainvillea

Variegated Ginger

Bottle Brsh

White Magnolia

Near the Garden Community Center building

there is a nature pond

where a few water lilies are beginning to bloom.

There are also two boardwalks over dense marsh area, one takes you to the future Art Museum area and the other

out to a gazebo on the Peace River.

where you can sit in almost complete silence!

One thing we noticed was the absence of birds other than a single Mockingbird.

While we really enjoyed our visit, in a few years when the flora has had a chance to mature and the gardens have been expanded and art museum opened, this will be a "must do" place to return to!

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