Blog Description

Mound House Happenings shares the latest in ongoing projects, site improvements, scheduled programs and events, plus interesting facts and photos on our unique archaeology, history and ecology.

Mound House

Mound House
October 15, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


            In 2009, I was living in Chicago when my cousin Jimmy died in Kansas City.  His funeral luncheon was at his sister’s house. His brother Bob had been house sitting for some friends in Kansas City who had just returned from a Florida vacation. They gave Bob a gorgeous Florida avocado, large, shiny bright and smooth skinned. When Bob brought that sunny avocado to the luncheon, it was agreed by all to be the best avocado any of us remembered tasting. I asked if I could have the pit to attempt to grow it.

            While I have attempted to grow many avocados, they have never survived a harsh Chicago winter even when they are brought indoors. Nevertheless, I figured I would try if for no other reason than it is a handsome plant with its' coppery leaves when it is happy. To my surprise, the pit sprouted not one, but two strong shoots! I began reporting its progress with pictures to all my cousins in Kansas City. But winter was coming! What to do!? A friend told me of a nursery about 45 miles west of Chicago where they would overwinter houseplants or patio plants of fragile nature for a nominal charge. So, off to the Spa went Jimmy's avocado!

            The next Spring when I went to retrieve Jimmy's avocado, I could not believe how well it had done! Pictures of its progress continued to be sent to Kansas. But when I picked it up in the Spring of 2012, I knew I would never get it back to the nursery and home again at the rate it was growing.

Jimmy's avocado's new home

            At the same time, I began making plans to spend the cold half of the Chicago year in Florida where my brother lived. If Jimmy’s avocado could thrive by being reprieved of the bitter, dry winter, I should pay attention and consider following its example! So in the Fall of 2012 I packed up everything AND Jimmy's avocado and drove down to Fort Myers Beach. We were intrepid travelers and arrived safe and sound where my brother has hosted Jimmy's avocado on his pool deck until I could find a suitable place for this prodigal pear.

            A perfect spot became evident at the historical, cultural, ethnobotanical site on Fort Myers Beach, the Mound House. Earliest archeological evidence showed the mighty Calusa Indians inhabited and built a shell mound on this site starting 2000 years ago where they thrived. They were gone by the 1800s, victims of warfare and diseases, but many of their resources were utilized by the early white settlers. The Mound house is the oldest structure on Fort Myers Beach and is in the process of being restored to its 1920s glory. Already the plants that people have relied on for centuries here are once again thriving. Papaya, mango, banana, avocado, pineapple, coconut, cabbage palm, orange and grapefruit trees all blossom there.

            Jimmy's avocado is starting a new life back in its homeland and besides beautifying the yard, it will provide a graphic learning experience to the visitors and schoolchildren who visit the Mound House. Thank you, Jimmy!
Jimmy's avocado with the Case House in the background