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FLOR 500 Gardens
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500 Gardens (Public Gardens):

FLOR500 invites 500 schools and libraries from across the state's 67 counties plant 500 wildflower gardens and dedicate them to one of 500 important Floridians (selected by a team of historians) featured on this website. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to develop skills in art, history, and nature as they participate in celebrating 500 years of Florida.

Review the FLOR500 list of featured honorees in the their region and select a historic figure they want to honor when they plant their public wildflower garden.

For Title: Enter the NUMBER and NAME of Honoree from list,
For First Image: Enter MAIN Garden photo,
Add Credit Line for Photos if needed


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404 Lewis Colson

Posted By Melissa Garuz, Sunday, April 20, 2014
Lewis Colson Dedication Garden
Esplanade Park - 7900 NW 187th Terrace

Lewis Colson was the first black settler to arrive in Sarasota in the year 1884. Colson was a former slave, who moved to Sarasota after he was freed to help Richard E. Paulson, an engineer for the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company, in surveying the town of Sarasota. Colson Remained in Sarasota for the remainder of his life contributing to community development in many ways. He started the first black community in Sarasota, where he helped several black families establish their life in the little town. He went on to help establish the first black Baptist church by selling land to the church trustees. He became a pastor and serviced the weekly Sunday church. The Bethlehem Baptist Church was a blessing for the black community.  The community then grew into a thriving residential and business district, better known as Overtown.

Colson lived in a time period where racial prejudice and injustice was prevalent. Despite his rough history as a slave, Colson still dedicated most of his live to being a community activist. He strived to give back to the people, especially the black community. After Colson passed, his dedication to establishing a successful black community is still prevalent. He gave many people a place to establish a home and form long last relationships with people who were all in the same position. His passion, dedication and preservation make him a great community activist and a role model for the black community.  Sarasota may not have been the home or where it is today if it was not for his hope of giving the black community a new place to call home.  

Photo Credit: Felix Pinard (Sarasota County History Center)

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John King Cheyney 210

Posted By Daniel M. Tarasiuk, Sunday, April 20, 2014

The John King Cheyney Garden

6895 Queen Palm Terrace, Miami Lakes, FL 33014

John King Cheyney was a unique and important figure in Florida’s history. He not only founded one of the most important and influential cities in the Tarpon Springs area, the Anclote and Rock Island Sponge Company, but he also was a key figure in creating a thriving and vibrant Greek community in that area. He used a fleet of boats in the Gulf of Mexico to hook sponges from the ocean floor. This proved to be time consuming and difficult. The ability to put men underwater and retrieve the sponges by hand would be more convenient. Cheyney lived through the turn of the century, the years of 1858-1939, where underwater diving gear was practically nonexistent in Florida. Through the information provided by a sponge buyer in Greece (John Cocoris), Cheyney had the idea of hiring and bringing over hundreds of divers from Greece to work in the new company. With the new hired help and the use of the groundbreaking technology to spend hours underwater, allowed Cheney’s company to explode in production and profit. To be credited with creating and founding a community in Florida is an amazing privilege. Because of his work and contribution to the state of Florida, hundreds of Greek immigrants can feel like they have a place and a community they can call their home. To this day, Tarpon Springs is still known for its specific marketing in natural ocean sponges, as well as a living, thriving and growing community of Greeks.

credit for rc20841.jpg: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,, 600x854, year: 19—

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393 Billy Bowlegs III

Posted By Kaye Celyn Fabregas, Sunday, April 20, 2014

Garden name: Billy Bowlegs' Little Seminole

Garden 393: Billy Bowlegs III

Location: Filipino-American Ministries (12300 NE 6th Ct, North Miami, FL 33161)

Honoree portrait photograph by Joseph Janney Steinmetz

I decided to plant a garden in a church in honor of Billy Bowlegs III to portray his goodness and the purity of his intention in leading and guiding the Seminole tribe. A church serves as a haven for Christian people, and just like a church Billy Bowlegs III stood as a shelter to the Seminole tribe. Through his persistence, he was able to gain the approval of Florida state legislature to reserve 100,000-acre of land property for the tribe in the Everglades. He not only led and stood for the Seminole tribe but also taught the history of the tribe to younger generations. He wanted to improve the understanding of the both the people in the tribe and the public of the Seminole culture and its history. In addition to the garden, I also made a dream catcher dedicated to him to further represent the Seminole tribe and the role he played in its people. A dream catcher is a well-known art form to the Native Americans. Although, it is not originally started by the Seminole tribe, it has influenced their lives and beliefs. Billy was like a dream catcher to the Seminole tribe because he only did things for the betterment of the tribe. He guided the tribe and filtered all the negative representations of the Seminoles by teaching its history to all the people.

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379 Caroline P. Rossetter

Posted By Francisco Rivero, Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rossetter Garden 

1601 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL, 33132

The person that was given to me for this project was a women by the name of Caroline Postel Rossetter. Known as Carrie, she was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1898.  Her mother, Ella Maude Rogerio, was born in Palatka, Florida and is descended from early Minorcan families living in and around St. Augustine. Her father, James Wadsworth Rossetter, was an agent for the Florida East Coast Railroad, and a partner in the Indian River and Lake Worth Fishing Company. According to rossetterhousemuseum.orgJames W. Rossetter passed away in 1921. Carrie, the oldest of her siblings, had been working with her father for a number of years and decided to take over her father's oil agency. At the tender age of twenty-three, Caroline had assumed the responsibilities that had rested on the shoulders of her late father. She worked hard in the first few years to keep the oil agency and to make enough commission to help support her family (mother, younger sister and three younger brothers). This was during the difficult economic period which led to the Great Depression. Carrie was the first woman to hold the position of oil agent in one of the largest companies in America, but that is not her only accomplishment in the business. She also remained in that position for 62 years. Caroline Rossetter built some of the first gasoline stations in South Brevard and was the sole distributor of oil to the Banana River Naval Air Station's civilian air force during the Second World War. Caroline also continued her father's interests in the areas of both cattle and citrus. To give tribute to Caroline I went to the downtown area of Miami and found a local garden within the busy city. I felt that having a garden surrounded by companies and fast growing business, embodies the spirit of Caroline and her hard working mentality.  

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Tags:  flora 500 

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Garden 405 Josephine Cortes

Posted By Cesar Gaviria, Sunday, April 20, 2014
Flagami Elementary School
920 SW 76th Ave
Miami, FL 33144

Josephine O. Cortes, a Journalist, publisher, and Pioneer. An adoptive Floridian, who always cared for her neighbors, friends and the entire community of Englewood Florida. Originally  working for
the United States Office of Education in Washington D.C. Josephine moved to Englewood with her son and daughter, where she would find her true home. She was a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, helped establish The Elsie Quirk Public Library, as well as the Englewood Herald, and she is the founder of “Pioneer Days” a yearly celebration in Englewood celebrating the founders of the small town. She was described as enthusiastic, and caring, she often spearheaded many initiatives within her community, including one where she gathered donated clothing and personally shipped to Poland for people in need. She wrote two books, It Happened in Englewood. a collection of her columns in the Sarasota Herald, and History of Englewood on the founding of Englewood, and its pioneering settlers.

An inspiration, Josephine’s attitude is one that is not found very often, hundreds of people have been effected by her many contribution to society and don’t even know it. That is why it is an honor for me to plant a few flowers and give her just a little bit more recognition for her actions.

 Josephine shall be remembered as one of 500 Floridians that helped shape this great state and the people within it.

Image of Josephine Cortes collected from- the Englewood review:
Memories: Josephine Cortes

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Tags:  405  Cortes  flora 500  garden  Josephine 

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