I have made another editorial decision (since I am the editor in chief) concerning this continuation of the James J. Smith photo essay; after counting how many photos of trees there are in my camera roll, I am splitting the remainder up into parts two and three (I was thinking maybe doing parts four and five and naming this one part six but sometimes my humor isn’t quite understood). 

Anyway, here’s part two: I’ll start with controversy, stirrin’ the puddin’, as it were. 

 This tree was called ficus exotica by Jim Smith. I know it looks a little like f. salicaria or the sport of salicaria called “89” but it’s different. But it’s not, as far as myself and Seth can find, a f. exotica. That fig (ficus “exotica”) is a name of a variety of ficus benjamina with a fancy curled leaf tip (go ahead, look it up, I’ll wait). I’ll let Seth comment with his opinion but I’m going to call this, with respect to Jim, an unknown species. It’s quite possible this is from the same area that ficus salicaria comes from (they think South America, maybe Guyana) but I’m not going to guess what species it is. That’s above my pay grade. 

I can opine on the next one. Maybe. 

Southern hackberry. Or, as more people are calling it, sugar berry (celtis lævigata) 

I prefer to spell it with the grapheme æ as opposed to the modern “ae”because it looks cool. That symbol is called “ash” or “æsc” and is a ligature representing a Latin diphthong. Uh huh. I also like using it because, considering I’m a cunning linguist, I enjoy greatly dipping my tongue into a thong that’s been tied up in a ligature. It’s exciting. 

Continuing the theme, this particular sugarberry has an impressive gash. I can even fit my whole hand in it. 

Aha! A crepe myrtle, which means some more nomenclature battles.  Notice I spelled it with an “e” instead of an “a”, like on the sign? I posit that the common name for the tree, lagerstroemia indica, should be spelled crepe, not crape. That common name comes from the flower, with looks like the a French tissue paper called crepe paper (not a crêpe one might eat for breakfast or as a dessert with champagne). I will battle anyone who says otherwise, to the death (of course it doesn’t matter, it’s just a common name and doesn’t mean anything. It’s not even a myrtle. But there are those who would battle to the death. For me it’s just fun, a sport, matching wits against the world). 
Anyway, these last two trees would be loved by Dan Robinson, with the old deadwood features they have. 

Sweet hollows on both of them. 

The next tree is a willowleaf is planted on a hand carved feather rock. As you see, those rocks don’t last long, not only has the weather worn it down but the tree is crushing it with its roots. 

Here’s another root over rock, a Texas ebony. It’s on the only native Florida rock, what they call “cap rock”, it’s literally made of dissolved coral that then relsolidified, combining with things these things called bryozoans, as a hard limestone. This post seems to be full of nomenclature lessons. The Texas ebony is no longer classified as a pithecellobium. It’s current name is ebanopsis ebano (it was just pointed out in the comments that it’s ebenopsis, not ebanopsis, thanks Kathrin) . I know, don’t shoot the messenger. Oh, be careful when googling “Texas ebony” make sure you type the word “tree” in there. 

Next we have a dwarf schefflera, or umbrella tree. 

Many don’t consider them trees and they are correct. They’re a bush,really. But so are most junipers. So there! The full size schefflera (s. actinophylla) is a full size tree. 

Another willow leaf, probably the tallest of the fat trunked specimens here. 

An unusually styled portulacaria. Almost in a tropical fig style. 

Another of the root cutting clumps that Jim was fond of. 

And another. This one is older and has almost no soil. 

A bougie in one of those ugly antique Chinese pots. 

A huge portulacaria. I like this one. 

Ficus microcarpa. Banyan style all the way. 

At this point I was overwhelmed by all these huge trees. Here’s three or four. They’re mostly willow leaf. The one on the right looks like a dude standing. 

Willow leaf again. 

Dwarf schefflera. 

Nice collection of aerial roots. 

Here’s an old green island fig. 

Schefflera, the old ones are usually a banyan style. 

Willow leaf. 

I like this one, it looks like, well, you’ll have to use your imagination. But I see three people.  

Ah! Wrightia religiosa, or the water jasmine. 

A jaboticaba. Seth says this one fruits. Imagine this trunk with dark purple fruits on the trunk like a disease. 

And finally, I’ll end with the first. 
Jim’s first tree actually. A portulacaria afra that he sent away for from a magazine.  

A mail order Jade from way back in 1957! This was Jim’s first bonsai! It’s a root over rock style, not as big as some younger portulacaria he has but, remember, this one has been in bonsai culture for a long time. It’s older than many longtime practitioners of the bonsai art in the USA today. 

And thus ends part two of the epic three part mini-series, “The James J. Smith Collection at Heathcote Gardens”. 

Stay tuned for the last, death defying, stupendous, edge of your seat finale: Part Three! 

10 thoughts

  1. There are many species of Schefflera, and I believe the ‘dwarf’ Schefflera is arboricola, which I call mini-schefflera.


  2. Love all these trees. Particularly impressed with the Stonehenge looking rock stands. Where did they come from?


    1. The stone is natural Florida stone, probably the same cap rock that the Texas ebony is on. There was a grant to build the gardens, I heard $500, probably from the federal govt. the landscape company the put it all together is Sam Comer’s Landscape design. It won the FNGLA’s 2016 Award of Excellence for the design.


  3. I am curious about the aerial roots on the schefflera. I had one that had about 5, then a year later it has about 50, but it seems that these only have a few big thick aerial roots without many new ones forming. Are others that form pruned off? I have always thought that the pictures of schefflera bonsai from Hawaii with dense clusters of roots of all sizes were quite impressive. I have also heard that the number of roots that form can be genetic as well as environmental.


    1. I have very little experience growing schefflera as bonsai. My one big one was just allowed to grow uninhibited for ten years or so. There is a genetic aspect to aerial roots. From ficus, some individuals of the same species do put down more than others.


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