Gene Joyner's Unbelievable Acres

by Bob G. Cannon II

I have visited Gene Joyner's Unbelievable Acres and it is truly, well, unbelievable. After taking only a few steps into his garden I was transported to a tranquil, peaceful world. I saw more fruits than I can remember (some fantastically variegated), tasted some of his marvels and even saw an owl as I departed with the setting sun. I've wanted to write about this visit for some time, but words fail me, I need to return and study and learn more. A single visit is not enough. The following 'tribute' to Gene expresses some of the feeling and thanks due to this man and his garden, for he is always there with fruit, plants, answers to our questions. Thanks again.

From the Palm Beach Rare Fruit Council's Tropical Fruit Ice Cream Cook Book.

Gene Joyner's Unbelievable Acres, the Home of the Ice cream Festival.

A highlight of the year for the Rare Fruit Council's Palm Beach Chapter is wandering through Gene Joyner's extraordinary tropical garden while eating soursop, black sapote or dovyalis ice cream, or licking a karanda popsicle. Gene has opened his house - for ice cream preparation - and his garden to the Rare Fruit Council since 1973.

The Palm Beach Chapter and Unbelievable Acres have come a long way together since then, and in 1993 we celebrate our 20th anniversary with the publication of this recipe book, dedicated to our Ice Cream Festival host and friend.

In the summer of 1970, Gene Joyner began work on his botanic garden. He took a cow pasture on the west side of West Palm Beach, Florida and over the years turned it into a jewel of a tropical jungle. He filled it with hundreds of tropical fruit trees, ornamentals and many truly rare plants usually not seen in private gardens. Unbelievable Acres is now known, and copied, not only in this country but around the world.

The tropical fruit grower will be interested in the windbreaks along the west, north and south sides of the two-and-a-half-acre garden. Primarily Australian pines, they tower 80 foot in the air, providing excellent protection from winter winds and several recent hurricanes.

The sugar sand soil, typical of Palm Beach County, Florida, has been heavily augmented by top soil and mulch, a famous feature of the garden, and inspirer of thousands of mulching gardeners in this area. Gene has spread countless truck loads of mulch by hand and replenishes it weekly. The mulch is now several feet deep, with not a blade of grass or weed to be seen. All of his plants flourish under their mulch cover.

The visitor to Unbelievable Acres wanders over tidy mulched trails through tropical vegetation, looking at over 3,000 cultivars of fruits, and ornamental plants. Many of the trees are full grown, providing a welcome canopy of shade for three or four understories of plants, and providing protection for a number of very tropical plants which would otherwise freeze in the winter months. Some of the rare, tender tropical fruit trees such as breadfruit, jakfruit and cacao grow here.

Gene is also a noted plant collector and has one of the largest collections of variegated tropical plants, fruit and citrus of any private individual in Florida.

Unbelievable Acres is open for private tours by appointment! If your travels in South East Florida, USA take you nearby make it one of your stops. (561) 655-7116 for information.


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