Harbor Style Harbor Style Dec : Page 91
N ot five minutes off I-75’s Exit 164, you’ll find an oasis. In a region known for its shell-strewn beaches, magical wildlife and lush vegetation — paradise itself — the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens stands out as a mecca for plant and art lovers alike. The drama and sophistication of many of the installations would draw throngs to urban museums, so it’s all the more stunning to view these structures, massive in some cases, demure in others, in an environment designed for open-air experiences. The vision of Roger Tetrault, retired CEO and Chairman of the Board of McDermott International and previously Senior Vice President of General Dynamics and the President of Electric Boat Shipyard, and his wife, Linda Tetrault, PhD, has finally become a reality. The 12-year project, which finally broke ground in 2012, had its public opening on October 20. A few weeks earlier, on September 30, the Tetraults invited their family and friends for a soft opening. “I came for the plants,” said horticulturist Cynthia Camilleri, “but I stay for the sculpture.” The Asheville, N.C., guest at the Gardens’ Family and Friends soft opening was particularly impressed by the ponytail palm. “The Tetraults and I are neighbors in North Carolina and I just couldn’t miss this. It’s just so important.” Rev. Bill Klossner, president of Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens, Inc., and past president of the Arts & Humanities Council of Charlotte County, Inc., was on the move throughout the day, ensuring that guests were comfortable despite the late September heat. Guests entered the driveway to the Gardens and were immediately entranced by the stainless steel “Fleur” sculpture, a nine-foot tall water feature reminiscent of a pedestal vase, by Archie Held of Richmond, Calif. Photographic images of plant life and flowers line the driveway to the parking area as well. The 60-by-40-inch permanent exhibits, funded through the Charlotte Community Foundation, add another dimension of vibrancy to the beauty of the landscape.