Punta Gorda, FL. The Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens have accepted the first donation of large plants from Joni Thompson of Port Charlotte, FL. Thompson donated an exceptional 20-year old staghorn fern specimen (Platycerium bifurcatum) weighing approximately 200 lbs. This fern joins the initial collection of six different staghorn species the garden has collected to date. The ultimate objective is to generate an international collection of staghorn ferns in a variety of species.

Thompson admitted her emotional attachment to the plants and explained that she acquired the staghorn when her son was five years old and as she has lovingly nurtured it for 20 years, it had become part of her family. When asked why she made the donation, she said that she could not bear to sell the plants, so she researched the gardens online and was touched by the Tetrault Foundation’s financial and personal commitment to the community in building the Gardens. Although she does feel a loss, she knows that her plants have a good permanent home.

Thompson’s generous donation also included a 40-year old pony tail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata.) The palm now stands 12-ft high. She recalled that she received it as a gift from a friend when it was in a small pot and of trying to protect it from frost as it grew taller and taller. Her goal of growing it as tall as possible was exceeded when it reached its current height and she could no long provide it with proper care. She takes comfort in knowing that many people will enjoy her gift and she looks forward to visiting her plants in their new home. The Tetrault Foundation hopes that others will follow Thompson’s lead and make additional large plant and tree donations.

Currently, the gardens are in need of large transplantable trees to replace a tree canopy which was lost in the early infrastructure development process due to mandatory water management requirements. One of the most desirable needs is for a donation of a transplantable banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), which has only recently been approved for planting within Charlotte County. Anyone willing to donate a banyan tree would be recognized as a Charter member of the Gardens.

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In addition to being a world-class botanical and sculpture garden, the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens is also a non-profit organization that relies on a variety of funding sources and plant donations to carry out its mission.

Opening in 2017, the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens will be one of Florida’s most breathtaking garden parks, featuring diverse botanicals and artistic beauty. The Gardens website is www.peacerivergardens.org  and can be contacted using the “contact us” section of the website.