By Melinda Gray
During the hustle and bustle of an average day, I wonder how often we notice just how amazing Southwest Florida is. I find when I take time to notice the natural beauty of my surroundings, I truly appreciate living here. The native animal and plant life that surrounds us is a fascinating mixture of beauty and strength. Mother Nature is wild, and taming her takes a special touch.
The Marco Island Historical Museum (MIHM) has accepted her challenge, and has been busy cultivating an impressive exhibit featuring native plant life available around-the-clock for the enjoyment and education of the general public.
“We wanted to give the museum some identity, to help develop the whole idea of Marco Island and get people to understand. The Native Plant walk is a part of that,” said Timothy England, museum manager. “It’s made us something like a 24-hour museum, this way, where people can wander through the garden and see the plants anytime.”
With hopes of future expansion and development, England believes that embracing nature enhances the museum as a whole. Traditional landscaping was never a direction they wanted to take.
“It’s crazy! Why fight nature? It’s not beneficial to anyone,” said England of the extra fertilizer, fertilizer runoff and maintenance such landscaping requires.
Wrapping around the outside of the MIHM main building is the stunning display of local plant life. Before heading down the path, help yourself to the informative pamphlet and follow along as you leisurely wind your way through this serene, small piece of the big picture that makes Southwest Florida so cool.
Just remember, with native plants one can expect native bugs, so apply your bug spray. Make sure, though, to also notice the colorful, exotic insects all along the way.
Before leaving, step inside the air-conditioning and catch the museum’s extensive exhibits featuring the Calusa Indians, our pioneering past and the area’s immediate story. Marco Island’s 50th birthday is right around the corner, and local history will inevitably be on the minds of those who have watched the area grow, as well as many of our curious visitors.
“The rich broad history is just amazing, and there’s so much of it,” said England, “While the rest of the United States had gone to sleep, we were still an active frontier.”
The Marco Island Historical Museum opened in 2010. Made possible through collaboration between the Marco Island Historical Society and Collier County, it is part of the Collier County Museum system. The Native Plant walk was brought to life by various volunteer groups.