10 Best Botanical Gardens in US

1.Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver, Colorado)
The Denver Botanic Gardens have been a Colorado favorites since first opening in 1951 at its current central Denver location. Today the 23-acre original site includes immaculately manicured grounds and an educational center. The Gardens have also expanded to three other sites including a 750-acre plant refuge in the suburb of Littleton, an alpine trail on Mount Evans west of Golden in the Rockies that is lined with natural mountain wildflowers, and Centennial Gardens originally commemorating the Colorado Centennial. Throughout the year the Gardens’ websitetracks what is in bloom. There is so much to see here with all corners of the globe well represented. All locations are not to be missed.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden2.Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Brooklyn, New York)
Located in the heart of one of New York City’s five boroughs, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the most visited botanic garden in the US. Truly an oasis within an urban jungle, the area provides a stark natural and beautiful contrast to the surrounding area. There are over 12,000 unique plant varieties located on 52 acres full of immaculately manicured grounds full of winding paths. Founded in 1910, the experience includes a cherry tree avenue, a rose garden covering 1 acre and a fragrance garden designed for the blind. Where else in New York City can a visitor spot rabbits and turtles in their natural environment? The experience is so engrossing one might forget where they are.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden3.Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (Coral Gables, Florida)
The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, located on the outskirts of Miami, Florida, is America’s preeminent collection of rare plants of the tropical variety. Established in 1938, the 83-acre garden’s official mission is to conserve tropical plants by promoting tropical plant diversity and is the founding member of the Center for Plant Conservation. Many exotic species can be viewed here including over 100 rare species indigenous to southern Florida and the Caribbean. Highlights in the garden include a huge variety of palms (over 550 identified species) and cycads – one of the most ancient varieties of plant life and, consequently, threatened with extinction.

Chicago Botanic Garden4.Chicago Botanic Garden (Chicago, Illinois)
The world-renowned Chicago Botanic Garden has been in existence for over a century but became what it is today in 1965 after a long period of inactivity. The Garden covers 385 acres situated on nine islands encompassed by lakes at the outskirts of the city. Today, it has developed into a world leader for scientific research and a great educational center for the public. The Chicago Botanic Garden boasts the highest membership of any US botanic garden at over 46,000 and is the second-most visited with over 750,000 visitors a year. The whole display includes some 9500 unique plant varieties.

Arnold Arboretum5.Arnold Arboretum (Boston, Massachusetts)
Maintained by Harvard University, the Arnold Arboretum is the oldest such public display in the United States and is a world leading plant research center. First established in 1872, the Arnold Arboretum covers 265 acres of land in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston. Truly a Boston urban oasis, over 7000 plant varieties are represented with special emphasis on the many varieties of plant life found in North America and eastern Asia. The collection includes some original plants used to introduce new species to North America from Asia. Detailed records are maintained that can show the precise location of every particular plant on the grounds.

Davis Arboretum6.UC-Davis Arboretum (Davis, California)
The University of California – Davis Arboretum, located about 15 miles west of Sacramento, California, is home to over 4000 species with emphasis on the variety that thrive in Davis’ widely varied temperature, which ranges between 14°F and 118°F yearly. The Arboretum covers approximately 100 acres and is the premiere garden of its type in California. Highlights here include the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden – designed after moon-viewing gardens in India and Japan that feature light shaded blooms, and the Redwood Memorial Grove full of the famous giant trees. For the full effect of the White Flower Garden, visit at night during a full moon.

National Tropical Botanical Garden7.National Tropical Botanical Garden (headquarters in Kauai, Hawaii)
The National Tropical Botanical Garden is actually composed of three gardens on the island of Kauai (McBryde, Allerton, and Limahuli), the Kahanu Garden on the island of Maui, the Awini and Ka’upulehu preserves on the Big Island, and The Kampong, across the continental United States in tropical Coconut Grove, Florida. All are located in the only authentic tropical locales of the United States and feature tropical plants. The Garden was created by a congressional charter in 1964 and a network of gardens was deemed necessary in order to encompass the varied ecosystems of tropical plants. The Kampong, Malay for “cluster of dwellings” was the personal collection of Dr. David Fairchild who founded the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables, Florida. All are located in beautiful, pristine locations and should not be missed.

Memphis Botanic Garden8.Memphis Botanic Garden (Memphis, Tennessee)
The Memphis Botanic Garden is the American South’s finest example and is a showcase of plant life indigenous not only to the area, but to the far-reaches of the planet. Covering 96 acres including lakes, woodlands, gardens, the revered Japanese Garden of Tranquility, and the Sensory Garden, this attraction brings in over 150,000 visitors annually. A visit here is an educational one where 23 specialty gardens emphasize different types of plant life from cactuses, to dogwoods, to magnolias, to a garden designed specifically to attract butterflies. The W.C. Paul Arboretum is a showcase of rare trees and is a must see for horticulturalists.

United States Botanic Garden9.United States Botanic Garden (Washington DC)
Officially maintained by US Congress, the US Botanic Garden includes the Conservatory, National Garden, and Bartholdi Park and is located adjacent to the grounds of the US Capitol. Congress first designated the grounds in 1820 and in recent years the whole area has seen a lot of new development with the National Garden opening to the public on October 1, 2006. Bartholdi Park was created in 1932 and is a popular location for public gatherings. A butterfly garden, rose garden, and the First Ladies’ Water Garden can be viewed in the National Garden. The original conservatory, built in 1933, recently went through a 3-year renovation project. Yearly, the US Botanic Garden features a holiday-themed display called ‘A Midnight Clear’ that is sure to please holiday visitors to the nation’s capital.

Missouri Botanical Garden10.Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, Missouri)
Created by St. Louis businessman Henry Shaw when he opened his garden to the public in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden today includes the original home of Mr. Shaw located on 79 acres of lush grounds in the heart of St. Louis. Highlights include the 14 acre Japanese garden named Seiwa-en (garden of pure) that is the largest such garden in the Western Hemisphere, the Climatron geodesic dome conservatory featuring exotic tropical plants, and a children’s garden complete with a limestone cave and tree house. The Missouri Botanical Garden also features an extensive collection of camellias, a type of tea flower. Mr. Shaw’s mid-19th century country home has also been immaculately maintained, as have his original gardens.

Stone Surface Finishes

Surface finishing is the treatment that brings out the esthetic features of the material. The ornamental function and also some technical characteristics (e.g. its resistance to wear and weather conditions or its slipperiness) are strongly influenced by the surface finishing applied to the product. Depending on the treatment, we can divide the finishing into mechanical, impact and chemical methods.

Mechanical Finishing

In mechanical finishing, the stone is put in contact with an abrasive to reduce the original surface roughness to some extent.

Rough – Though infrequent, sometimes the sawn material or even just-quarried material is ready for installation and needs only to be cut to size. The surface in this case is generally rough, with an uneven face. Rough stone is predominantly used outdoors where it is appreciated for its non-slip quality. It is often used with slate and with some kinds of sandstone.

Polished – Polishing is the main and most frequently applied finish. It follows the finest honing and employs polishing abrasives that add brilliance with mirror effect to the stone surface.

Honed – This finishing aims to produce a smooth surface by using abrasives of ever finer grain on the surface, so there is not a single honing but a series of progressive degrees of it. Honed finish is not reflective and makes the color tones slightly dull, but the treatment preserves the material’s natural esthetic characteristics.

Impact Finishing

Brushed – Brushed finish is obtained by applying hard plastic or metal brushes to the stone surface. The heavily action removes the softer part of the stone and wears out the surface, giving it a look similar to that of antique finishing.

Tooled or Hammered – Tooling is similar to brush hammering but it is obtained with a larger, single-pointed steel tool. The chromatic and non-slip effects are similar to those obtained with bush hammering, but tooling can be applied only to a chosen art of the surface, thus leaving some rough areas. The effect it produces is useful in giving stone a medieval character.

Chemical Finishing

Special machinery that looks like industrial washing machines is used to obtain an antique finish. The pieces to be treated are put in the machine with abrasive elements and the cylinder revolves. In a short time the impact of the stone with the abrasives produces an effect similar to aging caused by use and wear. The impact method is not suitable for large pieces, for which brushing or acid washing is the method of choice.

Chemical finishes are applied to stone in order to produce reactions that transform the material surface, or they are employed together with other types of treatment in order to improve their characteristics. These finishes can also be applied to cut, or even installed, materials.

Acid Wash

Acid washing has a corrosive action on the stone. It can be used to obtain different effects depending on the material, the chemical, and finally, the processing time. Finishes can range from simple superficial cleaning of the material to a more definite ruggedness, similar to that achieved by water finishing. Acid washing is sometimes used to obtain an antique finish in place of the impact method. It is possible to acid wash already cut pieces or, with appropriate precautions, already installed ones. Some chemicals produce other results affecting the aspect of the stone but not its roughness. These are acids that remove oily or rust spots on the material. However, there are others that instead induce oxidation effects and are employed to change the material color.

Initial Wash

In the case of a rustic finish—whether it is tumbled or sandblasted material—and when removing installation residue (i.e. cements), disregard the above cautionary remarks and use an acid de-scaling agent, because this is the only way to thoroughly clean the surface of these residues.

In this case, we strongly recommend the use of buffered acid de-scaling products, which are free of strong agents such as muriatic acid, at the greatest dilution compatible with the amount of dirt to be removed. Note that the material must be professionally installed. It is important to leave the smallest possible amount of residue so that it can be cleaned without the use of powerful chemicals.

Do not use acid products. Since travertine is a calcium-based material, it reacts with acids and is dissolved by them. Use only neutral or alkaline detergents, depending on the type of residue to be removed.

In the case of polished travertine, do not use strong alkaline products because they could damage the mirror finish of the material. In this case, we recommend only the use of neutral detergents.


Just as with marbles and polished limestone, travertine is normally only used for special applications such as bathroom and kitchen flooring. In this case, protection is assured by the use of special water-and-oil-repelling products which protect the surface without generally changing its look. After application of these products, a surface residue can crop up. This must be removed after drying, from 4 to 24 hours after treatment according to the type of solvent used in non-walkover areas such as: vanity tops, cook tops, thresholds, etc.

Another widely used protective treatment is waxing. In the case of home floors, we recommend the use of traditional polishable wax, which requires polishing with a cloth or polisher after application to give it a shine.

In the case of public installations, and hence with high foot traffic, we recommend the use of self-shining waxes, such as metallized waxes.

Unlike marble, which is normally waxed when its shine starts to show wear, waxing on travertine can be carried out anytime in order to protect its surface. Foot traffic can damage the original shine faster than in the case of marble or granite, which are harder materials.

The material must be maintained with a neutral detergent to avoid damaging the surface, its shine or protective treatment. It can be applied manually, with a bucket, mop or brush and rag normally in a 3-5% dilution, for traditional maintenance over a small surface area. It can alternatively be applied with a scrubber-drier machine for larger areas, in which case the dilution will normally be 1-2%. If stronger solutions (5-10%) are required for washing away more tenacious stains, a final rinse is required.

In the case of waxed floors, an alternative is 200-300 ml (8-10 fluid ounces) of a “wash” and “wax” product that is poured into the washing solution. If the floor is treated with metallized wax, the normal procedure for these waxes must be followed. This includes the above-mentioned washes as well as de-waxing every one to two years, using a special wax-stripping detergent at the recommended dilution, with a subsequent application of two to three coats of the same wax. A further maintenance treatment is crystallization, using a special crystallizing product. This treatment is used in cases in which the mirror finish of the travertine is moderately damaged and the user wishes to avoid waxing or re-polishing with a wire wool disk added to the weight of the professional polisher. When the damage is significant, however, we recommend re-polishing the floor mechanically in the traditional manner.

There is also special maintenance, which falls outside of the normal routine care schedule. Two of these operations have already been mentioned, crystallization and de-waxing. There is also a third procedure: stain removal. A polished travertine surface can be stained in a variety of ways, especially if not treated. Note that in many instances—as with marble and polished limestone in general—these defects will not be penetrating stains, but rather surface opacity, which looks like a stain at first glance. This can happen when an acidic liquid is spilled onto the limestone surface: coffee, wine, ketchup, tea, beer, soft drinks, lemon juice, etc. In general, this covers the majority of food stains.

In such cases, there is an aggressive chemical reaction with the surface. The staining agent dissolves the salt constituting the mirror surface and renders it opaque. Normal protective agents can slow down and hold back this reaction, but they cannot fully prevent it. Only by creating a significant surface layer can the material be protected against stains of this type, but such a protective layer would destroy the natural aspect of the surface, and this is not generally an attractive option. A surface which has been damaged in this way can be partially restored with crystallization or using a polish. Other typical stains are those due to grease or oil, which can be completely removed using a stain remover spray or with poultice.


The difference between this type and the preceding lies only in the polish of the surface, so that the same types of protective treatments recommended above can be used also in this case. We can also recommend an alternative wax treatment, whereby this type of surface can be treated with two applications of a matte-finish wax, which is then obviously not polished. We can recommend this type of treatment in cases in which the customer—having chosen a smooth but opaque surface finish—wishes to keep the finish unchanged. A similar result can be obtained using a water-and-oil-repelling product or a combination of water-and-oil-repelling products, which normally gives a better result in terms of proofing but does not guarantee dirt repellence, which is what waxes do.

For routine care, the same considerations mentioned previously apply. As for special maintenance, we must distinguish between the two cases. Crystallization is not an option, and staining is not a problem due to the inherently opaque surface of the material. In this case, we may see stains due to the color of the staining agent, whether it is coffee, the tomatoes in ketchup or red wine. In such cases, a special color stain remover must be used. For oily or greasy stains, stain remover sprays or poultice are both excellent solutions.

Tumbled stone

One of the most widely used materials employed to create tumbled stone is travertine, in all its colors: Roman, Walnut, Red, Yellow, Peach, etc. The recommended treatment in this case consists of applying a base coat of a product, such as the usual non-filming, solvent-based water and oil proofing or the more recent analogous water-based type of product, to ensure uniform absorption. This must be followed by a couple of applications of one of the vast range of commercial waxes, depending on the intended use and the type of finish desired: from extremely brilliant, self-shining metallized waxes to opaque wax.

An alternative to this treatment, which is widely used especially for exterior surfaces, consists in applying two coats of a stone enhancer, which results in the so-called “wet effect”. This is normally an oil or resin of diverse origin.

As for maintenance, in this case the problem is rather more complicated. Tumbled travertine has open cavities at the surface, in contrast with polished or honed materials which are filled. These cavities are excellent accumulation points for dirt, and hence, stronger products must be used for cleaning the surface, combined with the mechanical action of the cleaning machine. Furthermore, since tumbled stone is generally used in exteriors, the dirt in question is generally much more tenacious than indoor floor dirt. Cleaning, therefore, requires the use of alkaline products in combination with a professional cleaner with an abrasive disk (up to green disk) or hard nylon brush. On the other hand, the surface to clean is not particularly delicate, and therefore, it can accept the use of more energetic means than those employed in the case of polished or honed travertine. In extreme cases, a water jet cleaner may be used, after application of a solution of the alkaline product mentioned above (at a suitable dilution), left to act for a few minutes.

Curator’s Choice Mangos: The Mangos of Fairchild- Evolution

With the Mango Festival approaching this weekend I thought I would share the Curator’s Choice Mangos selected for this year.

Dr. Richard J. Campbell and Noris Ledesma, the Curators of Tropical Fruit, have carefully selected mango cultivars well-suited to contemporary conditions. These cultivars represent a new generation of mangos with superior horticultural traits.

We have featured mangos from the far reaches of the world; each location with its own unique genetic mix, particular look, flavor and texture. Our twenty-year tour of the mango world has been full of adventure, lore and of course taste. We have been taken to Asia and Africa, North and South America and now we have come back to South Florida and to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. We are ready to speak of the Fairchild “brand”. This brand celebrates the diversity of the fruit, as well as a future for the mango limited only by our imagination and genetic diversity. We have well over 500 mango varieties thriving in the Redland at the Fairchild Farm. Each variety is unique and worthy of appreciation on its own merits. The living collection holds the secrets of a world of mangos as well as the very future of this fruit through each varieties unique genetic code.

Mango Festival can hand-pick the best that we have to offer from our 500 varieties in the Living Genetic Collection. Our Mango tree selection remain small in stature, yet produce top quality fruit. Trees are approximately 3 ft. in height, growing in a 2 gallon plastic pot. For your convenience, a tree holding area is available both days of the Festival. (Sorry, we cannot pre-sell, hold or ship trees.).

2012 Curator’s Choice Selections: 

‘Angie’ (Florida)

‘Angie’ was selected for home garden and estate agriculture in South Florida due to its compact growth habit, disease tolerance and overall fruit quality. The fruit are 400 g, oblong and saffron yellow with Indian orange blush on the sun-exposed shoulders. The skin is smooth and without visible lenticels. The flesh is tangerine orange and without fiber. The flavor is classified in the ‘Alphonso’ class of mangos with a deep sweetness and sophisticated profile rich in apricot. The disease tolerance is excellent and given its early season it often can be harvested before the rainy season in South Florida. The tree is semi-dwarf and highly manageable with annual pruning. Size can be maintained at or below 3 m with consistent production. The tree is easy to grow if nitrogen is kept low and the tree is not over-watered or grown in soils prone to flooding or with a high watertable.


‘Jean Ellen’ (Florida)

‘Jean Ellen’ was selected as a home garden variety due to its early season, heavy production and its multiple bearing habit. The fruit are 300 g, oblong to lanceolate with a lemon yellow color. There is no blush to the fruit. The skin is smooth and typically has numerous corky lenticels and due to its habit of fruiting during the windy Spring, there are typically visible abrasions on the surface of the fruit. The flesh is an opaque yellow and there is a small amount of rough fiber near to the seed. The flavor is classified in the ‘Alphonso’ class, with a sweet, simple flavor of tropical spice. The tree grows easily and is semi-dwarf and precocious. The tree and fruit are moderately tolerant of disease and there are typically multiple blooms during the year. The season is from April to June in South Florida. 


‘Fairchild’ (Panama)

‘Fairchild’ was selected by Dr. David Fairchild and his family in the early 1900s, in the Panama Canal Zone. The small, oblong fruit average 10 oz. and have lemon yellow skin at maturity in June and July. The juicy, fiber free flesh is deep orange and aromatic, with a rich, spicy flavor. ‘Fairchild’ always ranks among the top cultivars in public evaluations at Fairchild’s annual International Mango Festival. The tree and fruit are highly tolerant of disease and fruit well under humid conditions, making it a natural for South Florida. The tree is among the most ornamental of mangos, with its compact shape and deep green color. It can be maintained at a height and spread of 8 ft. or less, perfect for those with a modest-sized home garden.



‘Mallika’ (India)

Mallika is a hybrid between Neelum and Dasheri, and is considered among the best of the new generation of Indian dessert mangos. The tree is semi-dwarf, making it attractive to mango growers outside of India, who are always looking for new niche markets around the world. The bright yellow fruit are a flattened oblong shape, with a rounded base and an irregular, non-waxy skin. The fruit weigh from10 to 18 oz. When properly ripened, the pasty, but completely fiber-free flesh is a deep orange, with an intensely sweet, rich and highly aromatic flavor. Mallika fruit are harvested mature-green, before they Abreak color on the tree and should be stored at a temperature of not less than 70F for 2 to 3 weeks for proper ripening. In this manner their ultimate eating quality will be achieved. The fruit can be refrigerated after complete ripening, but not before.


‘San Felipe’ (Cuba)

‘San Felipe’ is an eye-stopping beauty from western Cuba. She has many characteristics of the ‘Haden’ of Florida, although she is larger at nearly 1 ½ lb., with a bright yellow background color, an apple-red blush overlaid by a blanket of white dots. The tree is vigorous, yet productive and a consistent producer. The flesh color is a deep yellow to orange and the flavor is rich, sweet and spicy, one of the truly classic mango flavors of the world. ‘San Felipe’ is perfect for the home gardener in search of the taste of old Cuba, and for bragging rights among his neighbors.




‘Nam Doc Mai’ (Thailand)

‘Nam Doc Mai’ is among the best dessert mangos of Thailand, with an exceptional appearance and eating quality. The fruit are long, slender and sigmoid, weighing from 12 to 16 oz. The ripe fruit range from a greenish- to canary-yellow, rarely with a reddish blush on the sun-exposed shoulder. The flesh is soft and juicy, with a sweet and aromatic flavor. ‘Nam Doc Mai’ has no fiber. In Thailand and throughout much of Asia, it encompasses what is most desired in terms of versatility and quality. It is used while mature green for dipping in sauces and for making sweet preserves and pickles. When ripe, they have a smooth, silky texture and extreme sweetness and bouquet. It has found a home in the Caribbean, where it grows and fruits well.


‘Neelum’ (India)

Neelum  is a South Indian dessert mango, widely grown throughout the country and to an increasing extent in southernmost China. The fruit weigh 9 oz, with a ovate-oblique shape. They are smooth-skinned and bright yellow upon ripening and have no blush. The flesh is deep yellow or orange. There is no fiber and a rich, aromatic flavor that is over-powering to the unaccustomed palate. Neelum is best eaten out-of-hand, or used as slices or cubes in mixed fruit salads, as the firm flesh holds its shape. They have a late ripening season and can be stored for an extended time, which offers advantages in marketing. However, the fruit are only occasionally exported outside of their production areas, due to significant local demand. Neelum is a dwarf tree and may fit into modern production systems, which will hopefully increase its availability in commercial export markets.


‘Rosigold’ (Florida)

‘Rosigold’ is a local selection of Southeast Asian heritage. It is the answer to those who just cannot wait for the mango season to arrive, because the fruit ripen from middle to late March. The fruit are cylindrical, weighing 11 oz and are a bright yellow, with crimson and red highlights on the sun-exposed shoulders. The skin is thick, tender and adhesive to the soft, melting and juicy deep-orange flesh. The flavor is rich, aromatic and sweet, with a hint of the Asian Tropics. There is no fiber in the silky flesh. The tree is small, manageable and highly productive and can be kept at 8 ft, while maintaining proper health and fruiting. Blooming often occurs in successive waves throughout the winter, resulting in a multi-harvest fruiting season. There is a need to thin fruit in most years to improve fruit size and quality.

 ‘Cogshall’ (Florida) 

Cogshall was selected on Pine Island, Florida in the 1940s for its small tree size, good production, eating quality and beauty. It remained a local favorite for many years, but due to the softness of its flesh, it never became a commercial success.  The fruit weigh from 10 to 18 oz. The color is an eye-catching yellowish-orange, overlaid with a brilliant crimson blush. The soft, completely fibreless flesh has an excellent rich, spicy and aromatic flavor, which is sure to please even the most finicky of mango connoisseurs. The fruit and trees have good tolerance to fungal diseases. Fruit should be handled with care, as they are easily damaged due to the thin skin and soft flesh. The Cogshall tree remains small and compact and with minimal pruning can be maintained at a height and spread of 6 ft or less. Such a tree will easily produce 30 to 40 lb (3 to 4 boxes) of fruit while retaining health and vigor. The fruit is not available commercially outside of South Florida, and even within this region it is extremely difficult to find.

 ‘Manilita’ (Mexico) 

It is a selection of ‘Manila’ from the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The fruit are small and elongated, weighing 250 g (9 oz). The color is an eye-catching pastel red, which covers all but the nose of the fruit. The flesh is light yellow and silky-smooth, with a pleasing sweet and uncomplicated flavor. It is perfect for eating out of hand, for slicing and for dehydrating. The fruit ripen early in the mango season, allowing the grower to have a jump on the season. It is often the earliest red mango to ripen in Florida. The tree is dwarf and disease resistant and is perfectly suited for container or patio production. Tree size can be maintained at 2 m or less in height and 1.5 m in spread. Production is not heavy, but ample harvests can be maintained with proper care.  

 ‘Graham’ (Trinidad)

Graham is a descendent of Julie selected in Trinidad. The fruit are oval, with a flattened base and a rounded apex, ranging in weight from 16 to 29 oz, with an average of 13 lb. The stem is petite and set in a shallow depression, reminiscent of Julie. The fruit ripen from mid-July to August to a bright yellow, rarely with a slight pink blush. The skin is thick and tough and tolerant of rough handling. The flesh is completely fibreless, deep orange, soft and juicy with a sweet, rich and aromatic flavor. During the late summer, a finer-flavored mango would be hard to locate. Graham is similar to Julie, both in its growth habit, and fruit shape. The tree, however, grows better in moist, humid conditions, typical in South Florida. The tree is compact, and with annual pruning can be maintained with a size and spread of 8 ft or less, perfect for the space-limited homeowner. The fruit are larger than Julie and fruiting is more dependable. There will be less headaches in growing a Graham and more time eating this fruit.


‘Cac’  (Vietnam)

Cac is a selection from Vietnam, where it was singled out for consistent yields, a beautiful appearance and superb eating quality. The fruit are ovate and are 18 oz (509 g) with an uncommonly smooth skin. The fruit are yellow with a lemon yellow flesh with no fiber. The flavor is uncomplicated, blending the elements of citrus and peach with a gentle floral bouquet. The tree is vigorous, with an open and leggy growth habit that requires close attention to branch tipping and shaping. The fruit have good disease tolerance and ripen in the middle of the mango season.

 ‘Rapoza’ (Hawaii)

It was selected by University of Hawaiiin 1970s seedling of ‘Irwin’. The fruit is oblong shape of 28 oz (792 g), with vermillion covering nearly her entire fruit surface. The flesh is tangerine orange and firm with a rich sweetness of Indian spice and just a hint of citrus. The season was late in comparison with other varieties and the fruit had exceptional storage and long distance transport characteristics. The tree growth is vigorous but manageable and responded well to annual pruning with consistent, heavy yields and excellent disease tolerance. ‘Rapoza’  has gone on to capture the hearts of many a mango grower. Perhaps one day she will become a household name, further validating its horticultural properties.

 ‘Mesk’ (Egypt)

Mesk originated in Africa and has been propagated, grown and sold extensively in Egypt for many years. The fruit are oblong and of 14 oz (396 g). The skin is smooth with the color of a rich Egyptian sunset with a Dutch vermilion. The flesh is soft and juicy with no fiber and the flavor is rich and complex, as are many of the Egyptian varieties, rich in melon and citrus and a finish of Indian spice. The tree is compact and upright in growth habit and a bit difficult to manage under tropical conditions. The bloom and fruit are tolerant of fungal diseases, with the fruit ripening in the middle of the mango season.


‘Frances Hargrave’ (Florida)

Frances Hargrave is a ‘Haden’ seedling. The fruit are oblong with a pointed nose and a weight of 16.5 oz (468 g). The color is aureolin yellow from base to apex and has a smooth skin. The flesh is of the same color with no fiber and a delicate flavor of vanilla and peach with a distinct coconut aroma. The tree grows slowly and responds quite positively to horticultural management, forming a dense, dark green canopy with large, healthy leaves. The yields are excellent, ripening during the early season in Florida. The tree, bloom and fruit have excellent disease tolerance. Fruit has excellent stage, with good potential for South Florida.


‘Kastooree’ (Mangifera casturi)

Mangifera casturi, or kastooree, is a vigorous tree that forms a tight, upright canopy with shiny, dark green leaves contrasted with bright red new growth. The trees do not flower consistently in South Florida. Although inconsistent in flowering, the tree is well adapted to our climate and the leaves, blooms and fruit are tolerant of anthracnose, but susceptible to powdery mildew. The fruit are borne singly and are usually 40 to 50 g. They are highly fibrous, with a juicy, sweet flavor. The new growth and the inflorescences are a bright red color and highly ornamental.


‘Kuini’ (Mangifera odorata)

The Kuini (Mangifera odorata) has been in South Florida for over 50 years, but there has been only a single accession introduced from an unknown source. The tree is vigorous, forming an open canopy with large, deep green leaves and bright red new growth. The flower panicles are large, bright red and highly ornamental. Fruit average 325 g and are from green to a canary yellow at maturity, with a rich, sweet flavor and slightly fibrous flesh. Leaf, bloom and fruit tolerance to anthracnose and powdery mildew is excellent, but the stems are susceptible to bacteria infection. The fruit have an intense, earthy aroma, and kuini is often referred to as the durian mango. Trees have a nice conical crown making it perfect as an ornamental.

Stone Veneer Thin or Thick

Stone Veneer
Through Thick and Thin

What are the advantages and disadvantages of thin stone veneer and how does it “stack” up to full-dimension stone?

By Jennie Farnsworth

According to most sources, thin stone veneer is lighter in weight, faster to install, and — in many cases — more economical to use than traditional, full-dimension stone veneer. If that’s the case, wouldn’t thin stone veneer be specified every time the owner wants that old world stone look? Not necessarily.

Although the two veneers are very similar, each type has distinct advantages over the other.

“One item is not the right item for all types of work,” says Jamey DeMaria, owner of Jamey DeMaria Masonry in Carmel, Calif. “So, thin stone veneer is a nice option, just like manufactured stone is a nice option for some jobs. There’s not one thing that’s the right option for every job.”

Probably one of the most debated advantages to thin stone veneer is the overall cost savings that mason contractors will reap in using it.

Jeff Leonard, President of Leonard Masonry, Inc., in St. Louis, Mo., won one out of his three 2003 MCAA International Excellence in Masonry awards for his stonework on a private residence, which included thin and full-dimension stonework.

“When we look at the pros and cons between the thin and the full-depth, the number one factor is that the thin veneer is a faster installation,” says Leonard. “The more thin the veneer that we can talk the owner into, the more cost savings we’re going to have. You will probably have twice as much production on thin veneer than you do on full-depth veneer. So, first and foremost, it’s the fact that it is faster and you get your job done quicker.

“The main cost problem with thin stone veneer is there are certain types of stones that are so hard, they can thin veneer it but it would take so much time to cut through these hard stones, that it’s probably not cost-effective,” continues Leonard. “If it’s a hard material you’re going to have to spend more money and the cost-savings may be gone in the end. It gets evaporated because of the material costs.”

Scott Buechel, Co-owner of Buechel Stone Corporation in Chilton, Wis., somewhat disagrees.

“If you’re making it yourself, the stone itself is going to be more costly per square foot because you will need to make it into a four-inch veneer before making it into a thin veneer,” says Buechel. “So it adds a little bit more cost per square foot, but you will be able to get two pieces out of that same stone as opposed to one.”

Another aspect is the overall savings in freight.

“Because of the weight, the freight is cheaper,” adds Leonard. “You can ship more material, which keeps the material costs down.”

Which brings us to our next point…

The lighter weight of the thin stone means that masons can haul and install it that much faster than the heavier, full-depth stone.

“My nephew completed a remodel on his house. Two masons laid 100 sq. ft. of thin stone veneer each in a nine-hour day with one tender,” says Buechel. “Typically, they would have probably gotten about 40 or 50 sq. ft. of full veneer a day.”

Also, thin veneer can be essential for bringing stone to non-loadbearing walls, as well as help architects and engineers in the overall design.

“One of the advantages of the thin veneer is that, yes, it’s less weight and a lot of times weight is a problem,” says DeMaria. “If we’re veneering an entire two-story house, how that weight is distributed throughout the building and projects down the walls and into the footings — that’s the engineer’s nightmare and they like thin veneer because of that.”

Obviously, another main advantage of thin stone veneer is how much — or should we say, how little — space it takes up. Traditional, full-dimension stone masonry can range anywhere from two inches and up depending on the structure and building needs. Therefore, thin stone’s slimmer profile, ranging from 3/4-inch to two-inches, can be a great alternative for projects with limited space or other special considerations.

Jamey DeMaria Masonry also won Honorable Mention in the Residence category of the 2003 MCAA International Excellence in Masonry Awards for his full-depth and thin stone veneer work on the Schilling Carmel Stone Chateau.

“We put about 225 tons of full-dimension Carmel Stone — our native stone — on that job,” says DeMaria. “There was a lot of detail work that we actually designed and fabricated on the job site. Since I had my full-dimension stone there, we were able to accomplish whatever the owner chose to have done. There were a couple of fireplace inserts inside that were not specified to be stone, but the owner decided he’d like stone, so we cut one-inch thin veneer. We had all of the flexibility that way.

Photo courtesy of Jamey DeMaria Masonry

“There have been plenty of times when we’ve done Carmel Stone jobs and you’ve worked your way up to an area and, for one reason or another, the framing didn’t leave you the dimension that you wanted,” adds DeMaria. “We’re usually going to use six inches for the veneer with Carmel Stone, and for whatever reason, a lot of times there will only be two inches left in certain little areas. So we’ll just create our own thin veneer to do that.”

DeMaria states that the thinner thickness is also an asset to engineers.

“It’s sometimes easier for them to tie it all together when they don’t have to deal with the six- to eight-inch veneer,” says DeMaria.

Full-dimension stone veneer has a slight advantage over thin stone veneer when it comes to the details. Without proper materials and preparation, mason contractors can sometimes be limited in their use of return corners, corbels, lintels, keystones and other details when it comes to the use of thin stone.

“When you’ve got full-depth you can make the corner return whatever depth you want it to be,” says Leonard. “Thin veneer can’t do that.”

Much like other types of masonry, weight can work against thin stone with the use of certain details. Craig Swirzon, Technical Representative for Arriscraft International in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, had this to add concerning one style of thin stone veneer: thin bed adhered stone wall system.

“For the United States, we refer to ACI 530 [ASCE 5/TMS 602],” explains Swirzon. “Basically, what that states is the weight restriction for a thin set masonry application is 15lbs/sq.ft. You can’t go above 15lbs/sq.ft. because, essentially, what happens is the unit becomes too heavy.

“Let’s say you start with a 3/4-inch thick unit and you want to get the corbeled look, so you step it out another half-inch, which brings you to 1-1/4 inches. At 1-1/4 inches, for our material, you’re right on the line — you’re right at 15lbs/sq.ft.”

“If you then take our material and want to go another half-inch, you’re at 1-3/4 inches thick,” Swirzon continues. “That will be too thick because now the weight is above the 15lbs/sq.ft. limitation. So there are some weight restrictions in terms of how you apply it.

“Now, again, that would be true of any masonry you are using,” he cautions. “You can only go up to a certain thickness and you have to take into consideration the weight of the units.”

“If you are going to do more detail work, like corbels, lintels or keystones, you’d have to prep for it in advance for the thin veneer,” adds DeMaria. “That’s not a big deal, but a lot of times as we’re working the client might come up with ideas and the house is already framed. With this scenario, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish the changes for the client. With full-dimension stone, you have a little bit more flexibility.

“You have to remember when you are going to use the thin veneer, you have to frame the wall correctly to receive it. The stone itself needs to adhere right to the wall that you are going against,” states DeMaria. “So, if you have a battered wall — an angled wall that started out wide at the bottom and narrow at the top — then, of course, the framework would need to be battered so that you can create the battered stonework.”

“It’s really important, number one, to get the details right from the beginning,” agrees Swirzon. “So the designer has to make sure that the details are right, that moisture is being flashed away from the wall system. Then, secondly, we have to get it constructed properly and making sure that we get a good marriage between detailing and construction.”

Freeze-thaw Issues
Another advantage to full-stone veneer is it’s ability to accommodate various joints and dry-stacking.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Abel “If the homeowner wants a dry-stack look, I’m going to encourage at least a minimal mortar joint to prevent moisture from getting behind the masonry wall,” says Buechel. “Whether it’s freeze-thaw climates or not, if you get moisture behind it and you’re not using good masonry practices, you’re going to get stress fractures up through your scratch coat.”

Swirzon agrees.

“If the detailing isn’t 100% perfect or it wasn’t constructed correctly, moisture can get into the assembly and behind the masonry units,” he says. “If you’re applying it like a tile and moisture gets into your mortar bed or attachment system, when the moisture freezes it will expand by 10%. When it expands by that 10%, you can get the units actually popping right off the wall.

“Thin veneer works very well in the Southern United States, where they don’t have freeze-thaw cycling. Once you get a little further north where there is freezing, there can be a potential issue with the moisture causing the unit to fall off the wall.”

The final factor is not a physical, economical or technological point, but rather a state of mind.

“In the Carmel/Pebble Beach area, which is a high-end residential area, the emphasis on the houses I’m working on is almost the complete opposite of thin veneer,” states DeMaria. “They’re going about their housing project with the idea that their home is going to last for generations, and they’re not really looking for shortcuts to finish it. Usually when I’m talking to them, they want an authentic stone-style of lay, what generations of masons have done, and they want to create a very authentic style of house.”

“There’s a psyche about all of this,” Leonard agrees. “Even though thin veneer is natural stone, it’s not the full-depth natural stone.”

“There is absolutely very minimal difference, if any, on probably 90% of the thin stone as opposed to the full masonry,” states Buechel. “There’s something about it; it’s the prestige of having the full stone on a house, but when you look at it you can’t tell the difference. It’s a mind over matter syndrome.”

So what’s the answer when it comes to using thin veneer or full-dimension stone veneer?

Buechel weighs the advantages of each type and simply states: “What are you trying to accomplish out of your project?”

Meanwhile, DeMaria answers the question from a proud stonemason’s point of view.

“You could do two houses, side-by-side, one full-dimension stone and the other thin veneer, and literally not be able to tell the difference if the jobs were prepped correctly,” says DeMaria. “My background is I’m a fourth generation stonemason here in this area and we still do our installations the same way our great uncles did. In my opinion, price-wise and authenticity-wise, the top of the line is full-dimension stone.”

Then there’s one aspect that’s on everyone’s minds.

“There are so many different materials you can put on a building now that we’ve got to figure out a way to compete,” Leonard states. “Masonry can be replaced by so many different materials on the skin of the building that we’ve got to get more cost-effective. We have to figure out better ways of keeping masonry materials on the skin of these buildings. Thin stone veneer just happens to be one of them.”

CEU Credits for Landscape Architects & Architects

Larry’s Cap Rock obtained the ability to provide CEU classes to architects and landscape architects. These CEU classes have been approved through both individual boards at the Florida Department Of Business & Regulation along with LACES & AIA through a collaborative partnership with the Marble Institute of America.

These courses are available by calling Allyson Humphries @ 305-247-0947 or cell 954-651-0139. Courses are free if scheduled in person but will be $50 each when offered online through our website. Web based courses will be operational by Sep 1, 2012. 

Board Of Architecture Provider # 0005029

Board Of Landscape Architecture Provider # 0005029 

Genuine Stone: A Natural Choice For Sustainable Design

Course # 0009120

Credit: 1 hour

Natural Stone – The Evolving Marketplace Classroom

Course # 0009121

Credit: 1 hour

Intro To Stone I

Course #0008802

Credit Hour: 1

Intro to Stone II

Course #0009119

Credit Hour: 1 



Mateu Architecture Wins 2 AIA Awards


The Awards Gala Dinner Celebration will take place on Friday night, July 21, 2012, during the Annual Convention, which will be held at the world famous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, from July 19-22, 2012. This year, the jury awarded a total of 24 Design Awards, of which only six were Honor Awards of Excellence for Built Work and two received the prestigious Year Test of Time Merit Awards of Excellence.

In the words of Design Awards Jury Chair Steve McDowell, FAIA of BNIM Architects, “These projects were remarkable examples of beauty, sustainability, and innovation.”


Coral Gables, Florida – 25-Year Test of Time Merit Award of Excellence


Designed in 1983, the owners of this furniture showroom carrying classics of modern design wanted a building to showcase a philosophy of “good design as a way of life”. A belief in modular systems led to the choice of a 50-inch module, expressed in the façade, regulating all proportions in the building. The lower ceiling height (100”) allowed furniture arrangements to be viewed at a residential scale. Washing the interiors with soft, reflected light, a central atrium and skylight create a light-filled moment through which customers move upstairs or make their purchases. For fashion shows, the white steel stairway serves as a stage, while its centrality avoids a rigidly defined sequence of showroom spaces. The south façade setback underlines the visual and physical separation available to another retailer if desired, in the same spirit of modernity exemplified by the architecture and the furniture in the showroom. In 1984, the Luminaire Showroom was recognized by the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects with the Award of Honor in Architecture, and by the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects with the Award for Excellence in Architecture. In 1996, the Luminaire Showroom was the recipient of the 10-Year Test of Time Award from the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects. In 2008 the Luminaire Showroom received the 25-Year Test of Time Award from the Miami Chapter of the AIA.

In 1983, the building of such a modern building in the heart of the city of Coral Gables, caused such distress that city leaders moved to create a “Mediterranean Ordinance” in order to entice developers (by allowing them to build more square footage and taller) to choose “mediterranean” architecture while discouraging modern expression.

In Coral Gables, Florida, a city that has committed itself to maintaining a faux-romantic-historic ambiance, the building of such a modern, functional design, straightforward in its use of materials and of timeless attributes, has itself become historic. Today, after over 25 years, the Luminaire Showroom still stands in quiet testimony to the best tenets of a “timeless”, modern tradition.

The KETTAL SHOWROOM, Coral Gables, Florida – Honor Award of Excellence for Built Work. The owners of this outdoor furniture company from Spain wanted to open a showroom in Coral Gables, Florida, their first location in the USA. The site, formerly occupied by Biscayne Cafeteria, was a place of legendary food for many years. It’s location, in the middle of a block, in the middle of Miracle Mile (a six block long collection of storefronts, retail shops and restaurants), makes up the heart of Coral Gables. The design solution is one that celebrates the objects on display. The simplicity of the design is one that says, “Come in and visit,” giving the solution its strength. The transparency of the façade highlights the products on display. Its glass skin is only for containment of air conditioning, allowing light to wash the interior while maximizing the limited street “front” exposure to the outdoor furniture. The large, open showroom plan is gently articulated into three main areas, a response to the company’s three major furniture lines. Tilted walls and sloping ceilings towards “skylights” accentuate the “outdoor” qualities of the furniture displays; further define the space, while allowing maximum flexibility in display opportunities.

For now, the Kettal Showroom stands, among a collection of unmemorable retail storefronts, as a bold and unapologetic statement of modernity, a testament to the values of a still vital and viable, modern tradition. “The store offers a refined street presence, a restrained interior that is well executed to ensure a proper backdrop for the function of retail. The space displays a rigor that is not overwhelming but quiet and complimentary to the conceptual gestures.”


Creating A Small World – Terrarrium

My mother-in-law Judy is so creative. Her talents extend from photography to cake decorating and now creating Terrariums. So I thought I would share some of her tips for these cool Pottery Barn look alikes:

Perk-Up Your Indoor Space

Add a little green to your indoor space with an eye-catching terrarium! Change up the container to fit into any décor.

— Container
— Activated charcoal pieces
— Potting soil
— Gloves
— Terrarium-appropriate plants
— Trowel

Build the Base
Install approximately 1-2 inches of charcoal at base of container.

Mix It Up
Combine remaining charcoal with soil either by hand or with trowel.

Add the Second Layer
Fill your container one-fourth to one-third full with the charcoal-and-soil mixture. Gently pack the soil every 2 inches to avoid large air pockets.

Add Greens
Carefully remove your plants from their containers and position them on top of the soil to ensure proper spacing. Allow enough room between the plants for additional soil.

Squash Air Pockets
Use your hands to pack soil in and around plants. Tuck plants deep enough into the soil to cover all plant roots and to keep the plants from reaching too far above the top of the container.

Top Dress
With gloves, position moss or pebbles on top of the soil and between the plants.

Give Them a Drink

Water plants and place container in a well-lit area with indirect light. Future watering is dependent on the types of plants you have selected and the environment they’re growing in. Test the soil for moisture before pulling out the watering can.

Further Care
Maintenance is minimal once the plants are established. As they grow you may want to trim any branches that grow out and over the top of your container.





Stone Bridges

The four primary materials used for bridges have been wood, stone, iron, and concrete. Of these, iron has had the greatest effect on modern bridges. From iron, steel is made, and steel is used to make reinforced and prestressed concrete. Modern bridges are almost exclusively built with steel, reinforced concrete, and prestressed concrete.
Wood and stone
Wood is relatively weak in both compression and tension, but it has almost always been widely available and inexpensive. Wood has been used effectively for small bridges that carry light loads, such as footbridges. Engineers now incorporate laminated wooden beams and arches into some modern bridges.
Stone is strong in compression but weak in tension. Its primary application has been in arches, piers, and abutments.
Iron and steel
The first iron used during the Industrial Revolution was cast iron, which is strong in compression but weak in tension. Wrought iron, on the other hand, is as strong in compression as cast iron, but it also has much greater tensile strength. Steel is an even further refinement of iron and is yet stronger, superior to any iron in both tension and compression. Steel can be made to varying strengths, some alloys being five times stronger than others. The engineer refers to these as high-strength steels.
Concrete is an artificial stone made from a mixture of water, sand, gravel, and a binder such as cement. Like stone, it is strong in compression and weak in tension. Concrete with steel bars embedded in it is called reinforced concrete. Reinforcement allows for less concrete to be used because the steel carries all the tension; also, the concrete protects the steel from corrosion and fire.
Prestressed concrete is an important variation of reinforced concrete. A typical process, called post-tensioned prestressing, involves casting concrete beams with longitudinal holes for steel tendons—cables or bars—like reinforced concrete, but the holes for the tendons are curved upward from end to end, and the tendons, once fitted inside, are stretched and then anchored at the ends. The tendons, now under high tension, pull the two anchored ends together, putting the beam into compression. In addition, the curved tendons exert an upward force, and the designer can make this upward force counteract much of the downward load expected to be carried by the beam. Prestressed concrete reduces the amount of steel and concrete needed in a structure, leading to lighter designs that are often less expensive than designs of reinforced concrete.



Natural Stone Bathtubs – Adapted from A Detailed House

Natural materials, which I adore, are very prevalent in design, so I thought I’d show you some bathtub made from a single rock that range from formal and carved to very untouched and natural-looking. It probably goes without saying, but because of the materials’ durability – and with proper care – they can be used outside as well.

Bathtubs by Larry’s Cap Rock & Stone are created of travertine, onyx, granite or marble, depending on your choice of color and style.

Carved from a huge boulder, they can be given any kind of look, from rough to smooth surface depending on your preference.

Different color variations for stone tubs are based upon materials.
Finally, something ridiculously expensive:

A part of a huge rock crystal that was excavated was hollowed out and shaped with diamond cutters by the Italian company Baldi, who have sold two. One for a Russian magnate for $858,763 (700,000 Euros) and the second for Harrods for a window display at the price of $790,310.