Most of us frequently travel up and down Collier Boulevard, aka State Road 951, if you’ve lived in Collier County a long time. It’s convenient, the pace is faster and it stretches from Marco Island to Immokalee Road, with a brief slowdown through Golden Gate City. The things you don’t see as you travel the three lanes of the highway are things you probably should see and enjoy. I’ll tell you about three of them fairly close to each other, all outside and deliciously beautiful.
You might have noticed a landscaping business called Greenscapes on the right as you travel north on Collier Blvd, north of US 41, which runs east and west. Turn right onto Sabal Palm Road. Greenscapes, by the way, does a masterful job of designing landscapes for yards. I noticed that they designed the yard across the street and it’s the envy of the neighborhood due to the quality of the plants and trees and the sculpting of the flower beds.
I’m getting to the Memory Lane part. The traffic isn’t bad—you might pass a handful of cars as you marvel at the lack of development, soggy swamp-like land and you arrive at a treasure of an outdoor fruit and vegetable stand with a large sign on the outside that says, South Naples Citrus Grove written prominently near the top of the building. Yes, you heard me. It’s an open-air market, it’s not crowded and is beautifully staged to reveal the quality produce they offer.
Oranges are delivered in carts continually as they are picked right outside, graded and sized and packed into those famous orange mesh bags for purchase. You can’t get any fresher than that! As you gaze around, your eyes will be bombarded by the varieties of fruits and vegetables, artistically displayed and chosen for their excellence.
Additionally, if you like homemade jellies, jams, salsa, pickled pickles, beets, garlic, and others, marmalades, jellies and salad dressings, which are LESS expensive there because they don’t have to pay high packing, handling and shipping costs. You can choose something you love and they’ll supply a box for you to carry to your destination or mail it. Getting back to the salsas, they have mild, medium and hot salsas, like the following: Salsa Verde, Bacon Salsa and Bacon Pineapple Salsa, Peach, Pineapple, and Mango, I bought that one to try at a medium temperature, but note that there are so many more. They also have Salsa Con Queso from a Naples, FL, company. There’s Hot Pickled Garlic and the regular temperature. If you like Old Fashioned Spiced Peaches, they carry the Amish Farmhouse Kitchen brand. The presentation and colors of all the products in their old-timey jars make for a difficult choice, or choices.
As you leave Citrus Grove and turn right and drive farther down Sabal Palm Drive, you will encounter the entrance to Picayune Strand State Forest, wonder of wonders. Who knew there was a State Forest so close to us? Even better, you can camp or hike there and enjoy the great out of doors. There were many wet areas while we were there, but maybe they’ll dry up soon with the lack of rain. You can’t help but notice vegetation that thrives out there, some plants/trees that have become a nuisance to Florida. That’s an article for another issue of the Coastal Breeze News.
I believe I mentioned that there are three deliciously beautiful places down this road so now I’ll describe the third. About halfway back to Collier Boulevard, you’ll see a sign for Jade Orchids on a right–hand turn onto Morgan Rd. If you proceed down the road, almost at the end on the left is another spectacular place full of brilliantly colored orchids and more subdued tillandsias, aka very similar to air plants. The owner, with her husband, have worked diligently to repair and replace the plants and greenhouses that were destroyed in Irma; they had seven, now they have three.
The main display greenhouse is chock-full of orchids, big and small, many of them in full bloom right now and perfect to give as gifts. In fact, a long-time purchaser over 10 years or more came in and was wowed by some of the bloomers and bought them immediately. What she does is keep them inside while they’re blooming and in April when she heads back north, she ties them to her trees and when she returns, they are nicely adapted to their new locations and continue to bloom outdoors. That doesn’t stop her from buying more and often to enjoy!
Jade Orchids has been at this location for decades and has a dedicated clientele that prefers the variety of orchids found there and the TLC they receive from the owners rather than purchase one at a big box store that might be more likely to die. I found three I “had to have” as I love the small, delicate flowers on certain orchids, rather than the huge blooms. Saying that, looking across the greenhouse at the orchids in bloom is breathtaking. There are still many gorgeous varieties there that could be snatched up as gifts and would be enjoyed for years.
Three experiences on the same Sabal Palm Rd, right off Collier Blvd. Each one bringing joy and a sense of peace and beauty in this challenging world. Looking for more special, outside activities will be my mission to keep sharing with you as we all persevere, follow the COVID-19 recommendations and keep ourselves and our loved ones out of danger. Enjoy a safe holiday season and a healthy 2021.