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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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Garden 336, A. E. Backus

Posted By Fernandina Mendez, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fernandina Mendez


Artistic Expression

Garden 336, A. E. Backus (1906-1990)

Nationally- known Floridian Artist, Albert E. Backus accomplished great works throughout his lifetime. Born in Fort Pierce, Fl in 1906 nicknamed “Bean” , Backus grew up to be a self- taught landscape artist. Backus studied at the Parsons School for Applied Art in New York and began his career as a theatrical poster painter during the Depression. He held his first art exhibition in 1931 in his home county, then five years later participated in another exhibition in Palm Beach county.

Backus finally received national recognition in 1939 after winning the national art exhibition sponsored by IBM in association with Golden Gate Exposition. Backus painted Floridian landscape along with paintings of the Everglades, most of which included tropical and native flowers, palm trees and beaches. When he finally decided to travel to Miami for an art exhibition Miamians fell in love with his work becoming an immediate success. 

Unfortunately after the passing of his wife just a few years after marriage, Backus turned to drinking. His friends encouraged him to travel and it was then when Backus visited Jamaica and painted even more, later on opening a studio. Once returning to Ft. Pierce his work was high in demand and he kept on painting until his death in 1991 with poor eye sight and the effects of drinking. 

Backus continues to be a legacy with work displayed in the A. E. Backus Museum and Gallery located in his hometown.

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John Henry Floyd #408

Posted By Cyndi Glasgow, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My important Floridian is John Henry Floyd. I was chosen to honor him as part of the 500 Floridians that are being honored in this project. However I am honored to write and contribute to continuing his legacy because he was a positive and upstanding man in his community and Florida and he had more than one agenda and he ensured he fulfilled them all.  Some of his contributions were towards the religious community, in support of the black community and the real estate community in Sarasota. John Henry Floyd was born 1900 in Brandford, Fla. John Henry’s first profession was a contractor, but then he later became a Reverend. At the peak of the real estate boom in 1925, he moved to Sarasota. In Sarasota, he built many churches and buildings among the Newtown section of Sarasota.

Some of the important churches he built he also pastored until his passing were; New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, the Truevine Missionary Baptist Church and the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

During World War II, John Henry contributed to the black community through constructing U.S.O. Recreation Center for black men, teaching construction at Booker High and was also president of the P.T.A. Floyd also contributed to the black community by building an old people’s home otherwise known as a retirement home for blacks as segregation was still prominent. Floyd raised funds through benefit concerts from which he was able to buy land and build the first Old Folks Aid Home. Floyd was president and director of the Old Folks Aid home from 1960-1967.

As I said John Henry Floyd made many contributions to Sarasota as well as Florida through dedication to the blacks, religion and the betterment of his community through construction.

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454 Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Posted By Ana Martin, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Garden 454
Marjory Stoneman Douglas

The garden is planted in Marjory Stoneman Douglas Elementary School
11901 S.W. 2nd Street, Miami, Fl. 33184

    Marjory Stoneman Douglass was an unrelenting reporter, journalist, and writer. She was passionate about the natural preservation and restoration of South Florida. At the age of 79 she took up the leading role in the protection of the Everglades. Douglass knew they were a treasure, and fought against the efforts to drain it and use the land for the development of new businesses in Florida. Her most powerful written work was the book The Everglades: River of Grass. Through this book she proved that the Everglades is a river of life and not a worthless swamp as many saw it. Her determination earned her the nickname of “Grande Dame of the Everglades”. She won numerous awards, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation Hall of Fame in 1999, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000. Douglas was honored with a visit from Queen Elizabeth II to whom she gave a signed copy of her book. Douglass never stopped working for the protection of the Everglades until her death on May 14, 1998 at the age of 108.
    I planted the garden in memory of this important Floridian at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Elementary School located on 11901 SW 2nd Street
 Miami, FL. I though of no better location than a public school named after Marjory herself. The school’s motto is “A Vision of Pride and Excellence” which I believe is a motto that describes the life and legacy of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Credit for Portrait: 
5th Grade student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Elementary. 

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Garden 373 James Ormond, Plantation Owner

Posted By Jared Reyes, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Ormond garden is located at the private home at 3028 SW 141 Avenue. Captain James Ormond was a sea captain in the 18th century. He is my important Floridian because he paved the way for plantation owners today. I chose the location of my garden because it perfectly encapsulates the life of the sea captain. A wild orchid stands by the bank of the community’s lake and it stands apart from the rest of the drab scenery. Its pink hue is reminiscent of the captain’s individuality amidst the other sea captains of his era. He was awarded for his services to Spain by King Ferdinand VII and even after that, he turned to becoming a plantation owner, a complete 180 from his past profession. This is something that no captain in love with the sea would turn to after receiving such accolades. However, Ormond’s occupation as a plantation would be short-lived when Spain regained Florida from England in 1987. To persuade people to colonize Florida, Spain gave grants to numerous plots of lands in order to entice people to immigrate. One of these land grants gave away Ormond’s extensive plot of land, a grant of 2000 acres that ran just south of Bulow Ville at the head of the Halifax River. Sadly, Captain Ormond was not able to become a plantation owner after giving up his land and was fatally shot by a runaway slave in 1817. His name takes the place of Ormond Beach in Volusia County, Florida. The population was 36,301 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 37,929. Ormond Beach is the northern neighbor of Daytona Beach and is home to Tomoka State Park.

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Posted By Bethany McCoy, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
John Anderson was more than a businessman, he was a lively spirited individual who cared deeply about his community. 
Upon being one of Ormond Beach's early developers and promoters he was quite into architecture as he contributed and helped build both the Ormond Hotel and Oceanside Country Club.

Along with building the St. Lucia plantation and promoting the first baseball team of Ormand Beach, John Anderson was quite a busy and successful man, however he still found the time to give back to his community as it was important to him.

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Xavier Cortada
Florida International University
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