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then turned his attention, for the most part, to horticulture. As always eager to facilitate their son’s interests, Mead’s parents took him on a six-month-long nature trip to California, traveling by steamer from New York through Panama and up the coast to San Francisco, then returning via Salt Lake City and Chicago. Along the way he collected new species of cacti and, despite his avowed pivot to plant life, even more butterflies. In 1881, the Meads moved to Florida, where Samuel bought his accomplished but indulged 29-year-old son a 200-acre grove in Eustis. The family hoped that citrus and other cash crops would fund his increasingly ambitious horticultural experiments. The following year, Mead married Edith Edwards, daughter of his butterfly hunting men tor, and settled into a quietly satisfying life as a gentleman grower. An 1886 freeze, however, wiped out his citrus crop, prompting him to move further south. He bought 85 acres, including a 22-acre grove, around Lake Charm in Oviedo. That same year, the Meads’ daughter, Dorothy, was born, “charming and strong and robust.” But the child contracted scarlet fever at age 4, and died “after 17 dreadful days and nights.” Following the loss, Mead spent even more time gardening. He ordered palm seeds from England and Italy and patiently waited years for them to germinate. By 1894, he had as many as 250 palms in pots. But he gave up on palms after losing them all in yet another freeze. This time, however, something positive came from the frigid blast. Mead hypothesized that overhead water irrigation of citrus trees might allow them to survive by encasing the fruit in a 32-degree ice cocoon. He installed a 84 LIVING IN WINTER PARK Horticulturalist Theodore Luqueer Mead never saw the botanical garden that bears �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� plants was the inspiration for its founding. pump and irrigation system, and proved the concept on several dozen of his own trees. It’s a technique still used by growers today. Regardless, Mead’s attention increasingly turned to flowers. His approach to hybridization was to create new types of plants that combined beauty and commercial value, whether the process was difficult, as with orchids, or simple, as with daylilies. The childless Meads also took an active interest in the young people of Oviedo. Edith taught several young girls to play the piano and was a founder of the Oviedo Woman’s Club. Mead, with his jolly demeanor and white beard, played Santa Claus in local Christmas pageants and became Oviedo’s first Scoutmaster. It was through the Boy Scouts that Mead met John Hurd “Jack” Connery, an eager troop member who would later join forces with Rollins professor Edwin Osgood Grover to make Mead Garden in Winter Park a reality. THE PROF AND THE SCOUT Edwin Osgood Grover is barely remembered today. There is one small street named for him — Grover Avenue, near Mead Garden — and a commemorative stone along the Rollins Walk of Fame. But he’s ubiquitous in Winter Park history as a dreamer and a doer; a writer and a poet who frequently descended from his ivory tower to make a practical difference in the community. Grover was born in Minnesota in 1870, but was raised in Maine and New Hampshire, where he wandered in the thick woods and developed a love for nature.


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