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Last Update 06/03/08
Gotha Gardens -- Dr. Henry Nehrling -- The Man and His Work, First of a Series
Originally Published 1999 -- These pages document FloridaGardener.com helping to spread the word regarding the beginning efforts to save Palm Cottage Gardens, Gotha, FL; the home and remaining gardens of Dr. Henry Nehrling, nationally known horticulturist and ornithologist, and the “patron saint of Florida Gardens.“
Dr. Henry Nehrling’s Hybrid Caladiums, click to enlarge
Caladiums, Amaryllis and Crinums.  These are very familiar and popular plants to Florida gardeners. But if it was not for the pioneering work of Dr. Henry Nehrling, these plants very well would not enjoy the popularity that they do today in Florida's landscapes and gardens.

Henry Nehrling was born in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin,Freida Hemple May 9, 1853. He received his formal education at the Teachers' Seminary at Addison, Illinois where in 1873 he earned a degree in teaching -- his specialty being ornithology.

After graduating from Teachers' Seminary, he spent several years teaching in several states, including Illinois, Missouri and Texas.  In 1879, at the age of 26, he beganMrs. W. B. Halderman experimenting with subtropical and tropical plants while teaching in Houston, Texas.  In his own words, "...my enthusiasm for this field of horticulture grew from year to year", so much so that in 1884, at the age of 31, he "[fulfilled] a long cherished dream when [he] purchased some land at Gotha, Florida, in the rolling pine region in [west] Orange County [near Windermere]".



From 1884, onward, Dr. Nehrling was so enamoured withRichard Decker the state of Florida that he decided that it would be "his future permanent home. With this idea in mind he built a greenhouse in Milwaukee and collected seeds and other plant material from various correspondents in the tropics."

It was not until 1886 that he was able to visit and inspect his property in Florida for the first time.   Because, as he said, "...my means did not allow me to indulge my inclinations."  He was not able to devote more than a few months of the year at Gotha. Little by little though, he was able toDr Nehrling.gif (33089 bytes) clear his land, build a house on it and plant an orange grove. In 1890, he was able to begin clearing land for his collection of tropical plants still being sheltered in his Milwaukee green house.

Sources:   My Garden in Florida ; The Palmetto, August, 1982, Volume 2, Number 2; Photos Courtesy of Richard Nehrling


Second Article of the Series

Nehrling Index

Unter Florida's Palmen.
Frank Siller 1887

Fern im Süden liegt ein Land, wohin die Wandernvögel ziehen,

Wenn sie nach der Sonnenwende vor des Nordens Stürmen fliehen;

Dorthin leitet ihr Instinkt ne; folgend siener andern Spur,

Finden sie ihr Winterheim in einer idiöneren Natur.

Schwäne, Schwalben und Drosseln betätigen sich an zu diesen tropisch warmen Wäldern,

Zur Bank des Flusses, in der wilde Reben Höhe oben in Girlanden sich wickeln

Um Palmettos, Eichen und Walnüsse

Und Mähdrescher mit der bunten Blüte im Laub ihrer Kronen.

Wanderlust fuhr einmal Ponce de Leon, das fette, dort:

Er wollte die Insel von Bimini suchen,

Zum Bad sein kranker Kasten im Jungbrunnen,

Welche tief versteckt in den Wäldern dieses immergrünen Landes legen

Entsprechend indischen Legenden.

Ponce de Leon, trotz für eine lange Zeit gesucht haben,

Fand nie den Brunnen,

Aber die kranken Leute, die ihm gefolgt haben, haben gefolgt

Beim Finden wärmte er in der Sonne Klima, in den milden Brisen

Gewürzt mit dem Balsam der Kiefern und des Dufts der orange Blüten.


Under Florida's Palms
by Frank Siller

Far away in the South lies a land to which the migratory birds fly

When they flee from the storms of the north after the autumnal solstice.

Their instinct leads them there; following no other tracks,

They find their winter home in the midst of a more beautiful natural setting.

Swans, swallows and thrushes press on to these tropically warm forests,

To the bank of the river where wild vines wind themselves high up into festoons

Around palmettos, oaks and walnuts

And combine with the colorful blooms in foliage of their crowns.

Wanderlust once drove Ponce de Leon, the Bold, there:

He wanted to seek the island of Bimini,

To bath his sick chest in the fountain of youth,

Which lay hidden deep in the forests of this evergreen land

According to Indian legends.

Ponce de Leon, despite having searched for a long time,

Never found the fountain,

But the sick people who have followed him have succeeded

In finding it in the sun warmed climate, in the mild breezes

Seasoned with the balm of the pines and the fragrance of the orange blossoms.

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