AOS Gardens Closing in Delray Beach – Tribute and Gratitude for Its Contribution – Picture to Ponder – v7-issue 46

by Sheila Finkelstein on November 23, 2011

Today’s post carries with it the undercurrent of sadness on some losses in my life, plus a huge sense of gratitude for the opportunities and possibilities that were and are. Immediate for today’s photos and writing is what’s happening with my beloved American Orchid Society Gardens, in Delray Beach, FL. Two weeks ago, I learned that it would be closing at the end of the month. Because it has meant so much to me, and thus indirectly to you, I am dedicating today’s issue – Photos and Queries – to gratitude for its contribution to my life.

If you live in, or are visiting, Southeast Florida, please pay special attention. The building and grounds on Jog Road in Delray will be closed to the public, forever, effective 4:00 PM on Tuesday, November 29th. If you are in the area, I encourage you to visit there while you still can. It will be open every day until then, except for Thanksgiving Day, from 10 AM to 4 PM. For more specifics on location and phone number go to

For further details on the what’s happening and the why for the building and grounds, see FUTURE below today’s Queries.

Today’s Picture to Ponder Photos and Stories

American Orchid Society greenhouse exit to the gardens
(Exiting the Green House, going into the Gardens)

If you have been subscribing to Picture to Ponder for some time, you are undoubtedly quite familiar with the AOS. At least 50 of the issues, during our past 7 years, featured photos, as well as the resulting insights, from the Gardens.

For me, I owe much of my personal, professional and business growth to what I’ve experienced from my visits there, often monthly, sometimes more frequently. Less than 20 minutes from my home, the Gardens and Greenhouse often provided a sanctuary of peace. Other times it was a place to get reenergized. Especially joyous were the times of discovery of new images. And, almost certainly, it affected many of you as a result.

My first discovery there almost 9 years ago impacted so much of my future. It was the Ice Cream Banana plant that I called “tree” at the time. Still in my photo/drawing days, it became the featured image on my Nature’s Playground home page and much more.

Ice cream banana plant

So in love with the Orchid Center, I got past my “not good enough’s” and submitted work to be juried into WITVA, Women In The Visual Arts, so that I could then submit two pieces for a juried show to be held at there.

“Banana Sky™”, the first time I used this name, was accepted, as was my Banana Pod photo/drawing from the Blood Banana plant.

photo drawing of a banana pod from the blood banana plant in the American Orchid Society Gardens

As you see from the embossing this one placed “First” in the mixed media category in that show and the Ice Cream Banana Plant photo/drawing was sold.

My developing passion with the banana plant had me purchase my own when I happened on a small one for sale at Home Depot. At $12.95, I couldn’t resist. The excitement and ongoing discoveries with the growth, and more, of that plant ultimately resulted in my Banana Sky DVD, a source for meditative peace and healing with both the photography and music.

During this time, I also discovered “Once or Twice is Not Enough”, the title I gave for an ARTICLE I wrote in my Community Newsletter, looking beyond taking something for granted once we’ve seen it. This became one of the themes in many of the future issues of Picture to Ponder. The anthurium plant below was the initial inspiration.

anthurium flower

Several days, or more, after taking the above photograph, I became fascinated with changes and the decaying plants.

Anthurium plant drying out - photo/drawing

Several photos, then photo/drawings later, inspired the article. You can see others in this anthurium series on Anthurium Photo/Drawings.

Once I started Picture to Ponder, I moved past my photo/drawing period to using the unenhanced photographs alone for inspiration.

An inside anthurium plant, “Anthurium Peeking”, became the cover photo for “Accessing Your Intuition” CD by Ina Ames, whose web site I also created.

I can cite so many more plants there, many of which became friends as they cycled through their seasons.

One last image, for now:

I, and others, particularly love is the Purple Tropical Water lily, used in both photo/drawing and plain photo versions. It was first featured in Issue 6 of Picture to Ponder in 2004 with the queries for it the next day in Issue 7.

tropical water lily in American Orchid Society Gardens

The top is, obviously, on a pillow in my Nature Art Gift Shop, as well as on other products. The lower image is one of six flowers from the Gardens that are featured in the 12-month Flowers Wall Calendar.

This last image appropriately leads me into today’s

Self-Reflecting Queries –

In looking through the Pictures to Ponder: Flowers Book 1, (preview) where a good number of the photos are from AOS, I see one of the Queries the Tropical Water Lily inspired is:

“What light can you claim in your own center that warms you and expands out into the world, making a difference?”

And before continuing with all text, I realized in this issue which I’ve devoted to the “Orchid” Center I’ve not included one photo of an orchid. So here is one of Phalaenopsis orchids from January 2007, Vol 3 – Issue 9.

White phalaenopsis orchids from American Orchid Society Greenhouse

The drama of the lighting in this photo led to the following statement and queries in that issue:

“Think of the support systems that may be in our own individual lives. These could be among family, friends, colleagues or other activities we take on.

Can you think of who or what they are, or have been, in your life? Do you know to which lights in you they’ve pointed? What have they directed you and others to see?”

And for today, the day before Thanksgiving, I’ll add:

For what in yourself are you particularly grateful? and for whom or what in your life, past or present, alive or dead, can you give gratitude?

Where possible, I invite you to do that in words, spoken or written, or in some other creative form. Deliver it, if you can.

For me, obvious in this issue, is my never-ending gratitude to the Board of the American Orchid Society, all of the groups that have supported it and the keeping the facility open in Delray Beach for two more years beyond the threat of closing at that time.

Special thanks and gratitude to the Staff Members and Volunteers with whom I’ve interacted on the grounds and in the Gift Shop.

Thanks to the visitors with whom I’ve had fun interacting on many of my walks there.

And thank you my dear Picture to Ponder subscribers for being here, open to receiving all I have to offer.

My love and boundless gratitude for my beloved family and friends and for my beloved Sam, whose 4th year parting from this planet was earlier this week on the 21st. In the next few days, I will be expressing more of my gratitude for him and his contribution to my life on my Writing for Healing blog.

My gratitude also for my creative abilities, my talents, my health and ability and ultimate willingness to take action. Most interestingly to me is the fact that I’ve had mild pain in my upper right arm and shoulder for a few weeks now, something that surfaces sporadically. Though I’d decided that it had to do with recent eating patterns, yesterday the pain got worse, radiating down into my right hand.

Thinking back, the pain might have resurfaced around the time I learned the Orchid Center was closing, along with learning about Toshiko Takaezu’s Death, shared two issues ago, and the upcoming “anniversary” of Sam’s death, plus some other things going on.

My point to, and miracle of, this whole story is that as soon as I sat down to actually put together and write, rather than think about, this today’s Picture to Ponder the pain disappeared!!!

I, thus, extend one more invitation to you. I invite you to look into your life. Is there anything to which you have been holding on that might be causing you conscious or unconscious suffering? If so, I invite you to take some action around it.

Although today’s issue of Picture to Ponder may have come across as “heavy”, please look to see where you can have fun, and please share on the blog your experience with these photos and what comes up for you.

Future Location of American Orchid Society, Plus

The orchid collection and Society’s offices and library will be moving to the Farichild Botanical Gardens in Coral Gables, Miami, FL. The partnership and expansion of facilities is expected to be complete by the Summer of 2012. See AOS/Fairchild Article for more details

The upside for the ultimate use of the current location is that, though limited to the general population, the environment will be serving a very worthwhile cause. The building and grounds have been sold to the Sandra C. Slomin Foundation and Family Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. “The Slomin Foundation hopes to get the 66-student day care open sometime in 2012 and eventually expand to include an 88-student elementary school.” according to the Palm Beach Post.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy November 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Sheila – I so appreciate the intimate relationship you developed with the plants and flowers at AOS. I, too, would be grieving the loss of such a connection, while also knowing, another awaits you. I love how they spoke to you and through you and what you generated as a result of listening – so much Beauty. Thanks!


Sheila Finkelstein November 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Kathy, thank you so much for your kind thoughts and comments. I appreciate your empathy and your picking up on my having an “intimate relationship” with the plants and flowers.

And, you’re so right. I’m thinking of the “Voodoo Lily” plant which I was looking forward to following again – Just looking at the date (6/2009), I’m wondering if I might have missed one or more cycles.

Your comments are bringing up even more memories of plants with which/”whom” I became connected. Thank you for that and for the pointing out “another” awaits me.

And, in different conversation, I appreciate you coming in here, as well as on Facebook, where we’ve had some interesting recent chats. I do so love making new friends. People as well as plants !! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving.


Morgine November 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm

On my one visit to your home, this place was among my favorites! It felt very special and Magical, as if all the plants had formed a community or family of sorts. They all showered the visitors with love as they observed us, as much as we observed them! They reflect out own beauty as we reflect theirs! I was not surprised you were so drawn to come there often and take photos. I am so Grateful for all the BEAUTY you shared with the world through your photography and art for the rest of the world, who could not be there “in person”!

I hope you can go one time before it closes and ask to connect with the Angel of the American Orchid Society Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida. Request the Angel communicate with all the Beings present in the gardens, what is about to happen and when. Share all you do know about what is happening and where some of them will be moving to. You might not know what will happen to them all, however, they can all be prepared for “a move or change of some kind”. Remember to disconnect from the Angel when you are finished communicating. You made a telepathic phone call and need to thank the Angel and hang up the phone. 🙂

This will make it so much less stressful for all the Beings concerned. Everything is alive and plants have feelings and experience fear and stress, just differently than humans do. One can read about scientific experiments showing things like this in “The Secret Life of Plants” one of my favorite books or the Perelendra books. ) I wish the “movers” could treat each plant as if it were like a little child, or puppy or kitten. At least with a similar amount of kindness and care. They have given so much to everyone who visits there, they deserve no less!

Thank you again for sharing all this Magic and Beauty with all your readers! I send blessings to all those involved and may this land also bless the new inhabitants as well.

Much love, joy and peace, Morgine


Sheila Finkelstein November 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Thank you so much for your beautiful and thought-provoking, caring response, as well as the acknowledgment of my work and that of the plants in the Greenhouse and Gardens.

Given your expertise in communication with plants and animals and the fact that you can do it virtually, I invite you to communicate with the Angel of the Gardens. I do expect that when they are moved, it will be with loving care, knowing that they are going into the welcoming environment of Fairchild Botanical Gardens next year.

In the meantime, I think, the plants will be staying where they are until Fairchild is ready for them, while the main administration building is converted and made ready for the office and classes that will be set up for Autistic children. In reading one of the articles to which I’ve linked in my post, you’ll see that one of the reasons the Slomin Foundation chose this location was because of the peacefulness of the environment along with that of the Morikami Japanese Gardens next door.

Again, thank you for your care and concern and for the beauty you bring to and preserve in the world.


Heidi Richards Mooney November 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm


Thank you for sharing the inspiration for much of your work. It is so amazing how much we take for granted until it is no longer available to us. I know you will treasure all the memories of the American Orchid Society. I never had the privilege of going there but I have been to Fairchild Gardens. As a flower lover, orchids are on the top of my list of favorite flowers. Let us hope that as the doors of AOS close, others will open and release their beauty, just as you have in your photography.

Warmest regards,

Heidi Richards Mooney


Sheila Finkelstein November 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Thanks so much for visiting, Heidi, and for your comments of appreciation and acknowledgment.

Interestingly, for me, despite this being the “Orchid” Society, the orchids themselves were not the biggest draw for me. Perhaps because of my Northern residence and life for over 60 years. My main experience was with the Cattleya orchid (not knowing its name then) as a Prom, or other special occasion, corsage. And those occasions did not always have fully happy associations with them.

It was the full environment within the Orchid greenhouse and that of the grounds with the tropical plants. Though they stayed put, I got to experience their varying seasons of bloom.

Except for the two awesome Chihuly Exhibits there, the Fairchild Gardens, the one other time I visited, paled, for me, in comparison to my experience of the AOS center. Of course, that will change, I’m sure, with the new partnership and expansion including the AOS collection.

Most appreciatively, Sheila


Pamela Rhodes August 28, 2015 at 1:40 am

simply stunning.
Do you teach?


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