Googling for a Green Thumb: Richard Lyons Nursery

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it's easy to forget that everything west of Coral Gables was originally the Everglades, that Miami is surrounded by farm land, nurseries and horse country - but it's one of my favorite things about Miami.

Sadly, I know basically nothing about plants and how to take care of them. My window basil plant and chives are doing ok, but the mint died in a week, that's about all I have for reference. Oh, and in college I had an aloe plant I bought at IKEA that lasted the whole year until I put it in my storage unit for the summer. But I'm going to learn! 

Googling "South Florida native plants" can only take you so far when you don't even have a basic vocabulary on the subject. What I needed was a brain. I needed someone who could answer all the questions I could have for Google and give it to me straight. I found that guy, and his name was Richard Lyons. 

My online search lead me to Richard Lyons Nursery. Generally, I'm not a fan of Yelp, it's a hater message board, but when you find a Yelp profile that's overwhelmingly positive, I'll give it a go. Everyone mentioned Richard, the Santa Clause-like namesake of Richard Lyons Nursery, and his willingness to give tours of his ten acre property on his golf cart. One reviewer gave an account of searching for wedding centerpieces that guests could take home, Richard offered to not only accommodate the request, but grow and groom the plants so that they'd be ready for the ceremony in one year. What a doll. 

Sure enough, I received one of those tours and it was just what I was looking for. He drove us around, along with a blind cat with one eye, and pointed out every single tree, bush, flower and herb along the way. Most of what he has there are native, which makes them nice and low maintenance.

Richard is a straight forward dude. Pomegranates? They hate it here. Lavender? Non native. Lemon and lime trees? You don't want citrus right now. Banana trees? They need extra mulch and moisture. But tamarind, jujubes, jackfruit, mango? Yes, yes, yes, yes. He knew the scientific name and the common name for every specimen, how large they'd grow to be and what kind of sun exposure they need. 

It takes a lifetime of knowledge and hands on work to acquire the kind of information that Richard has. He's a living Google and a much better resource than anything I could find online. Now, time to get my hands dirty and decide what to buy. 

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20200 sw 134th ave, homestead