2017-04-27 / Outdoors

Enjoy free admission to The Norris Gardens and Palm Cottage


Above: The Norris Gardens surround Historic Palm Cottage, home of the Naples Historical Society. Left: Visitors tour The Norris Gardens at Historic Palm Cottage. Above: The Norris Gardens surround Historic Palm Cottage, home of the Naples Historical Society. Left: Visitors tour The Norris Gardens at Historic Palm Cottage. Naples Historical Society celebrates the first decade of The Norris Gardens at Historic Palm Cottage with free admission to both the cottage and gardens from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 29. Following the open house/garden hours, the Naples Dixieland Jazz Band will perform in the gardens. Admission to the concert, which is part of the Stay in May program of performances, is $17.

The history of the gardens is young compared to the house, which was built in the late 1800s, but their story is just as important. Up until the early part of the 21st century, the property included a small home once owned by legendary land developer Ed Crayton. When this property became available for purchase in 2005, the board of directors of Naples Historical Society initiated a capital campaign to purchase the land. Community support rallied around the project and funding from major contributors, including the Norris family, allowed NHS to acquire the lot and put a plan into place for its careful remastering.

COURTESY PHOTOS COURTESY PHOTOS Today, six separate and unique gardens make up The Norris Gardens. They are:

¦ The Sharon & Dolph von Arx Pioneer Garden

¦ The Jacobsen Family Foundation Palm Collector’s Garden

¦ The Harold Cornelius Smith Family Edible Garden

¦ The Water Garden, in Memory of Vera D. Wavering

¦ The Moxley Family Descendants Everglades Shade Garden

¦ The Diana & Don Wingard Garden of the Senses

Also featured in the Gardens are the Mrs. George H. Gaynor Chickee Pavilion, which was originally built by Seminole tribe member O.B. Osceola, and the Mary & Stephen Byron Smith Oval Lawn. The Norris Gardens at Historic Palm Cottage continues to adapt and thrive under the loving care of a team of volunteers.

“Each garden was uniquely crafted to replicate a specific native Florida garden that might have existed when the area was first settled,” says Barbara Lee Jones, NHS garden team leader. “For example, the Pioneer Garden features plants that require minimal water such as the resurrection fern and rose cactus, while the Edible Garden features fruits and vegetables like dwarf bananas, herbs and wild coffee.”

The location of each garden serves not only an aesthetic purpose, but also a practical one. For instance, the Garden of the Senses was strategically placed just off the front porch of the Palm Cottage because this is where early settlers would have enjoyed their leisurely afternoons and evenings with wafting aromas from the many flowering plants. The aptly named Everglades Shade Garden was placed on the east side of the cottage to provide a reprieve from the hot glare of the early morning and mid-day sun. And of course most early residents of Naples had a vegetable garden, so the Norris Gardens also include an Edible Garden, which is a favorite for the many students who visit as part of the NHS Pupils at Palm Cottage program.

Historic Palm Cottage has stood strong since the late 1800s. It was originally an escape from the cold winter months for its owner, Louisville Courier Journal founder Walter Haldeman, before it became a temporary boarding house in the early 1900s. After Mr. Haldeman’s death, the Cottage (and most of Mr. Haldeman’s land assets) was purchased by legendary Naples developer Ed Crayton.

The cottage changed hands several times in the mid- 1900s and was eventually purchased by NHS in 1979. In 1982, the cottage was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the property is used to educate the public and preserve the history of Naples for generations to enjoy. ¦

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