"The Last Lecture" by Dr. Frank Brown

Central Floridave

Active Member
I went to Vero Beach Gardenfest today and Valkaria is announcing "The Last Lecture" for April 21-22 @Valkaria Gardens. Or, Cleo's nursery as I don't know which one but will find out. Florida Gardening Magazine editor Kathy confirmed...this is the last one...
I went to Vero Beach Gardenfest today and Valkaria is announcing "The Last Lecture" for April 21-22 @Valkaria Gardens. Or, Cleo's nursery as I don't know which one but will find out. Florida Gardening Magazine editor Kathy confirmed...this is the last one...

I am a bit disappointed that this thread got no reaction. Perhaps it was because the date was made so in advance? If not for Dave, I would not have known about this.

Dave - could you please give us more information? Specifically the date that Dr. Brown will be making his last presentation.

Discussion has started with some crotonheads here on the east coast. Looking to organize share-a-ride or a caravan to "the Godfather's last Lecture".

Would be nice if a carload (or two) could get organized from the west coast as well.

It would be a great tribute and be well received by Frank Brown I am sure. It's not often that one is afforded an oportunity to rub elbows with a living legend.

Dave - please let us know as soon as you find out new info. Thank you for your courtesy.

Best regards,

Ron :)
I'll be there one way or another. Maybe Phil, Keith, Perry and I can make the trip. I've not heard from Lee in awhile but maybe he'd like to make the trip as well.

That would be awesome Ray! :cool: Perhaps the Glocks, the Shillings and Toby could make some plans as well.

I'll get it going over here. ;)

I am sure Dave will be rustling up a couple up his way. :)
I'll see Cleo at the F.I.T. Botanical Fest March 3rd and ask for more detail. Maybe if you can all say when all the croton crazies will be there then maybe they can do a concentrated croton talk. Just brainstorming.

Valkaria Gardens and Peter's Crotons will be here, March 3rd:

Dave - I can't speak for everyone however, the croton crazies have typically always done the crazy croton thing on Saturdays. April 21 is a Saturday and would probably be best due to travel time.

To all: If Saturday April 21 is good for you or not, please post your preference.

Dave - I really appreciate your efforts and the follow up! :cool:

Best regards,

Ron :)
Got more detail yesterday. DATE CHANGED TO APRIL 7th.

I couldn't find out how to edit the orig.post, but note the date change to Saturday April 7th.

The Last Lecture will be at 10am. Topic: The wonderful stories of a 95 year love affair with exotic plants!

This is NOT at Dr.Browns house/garden, but at Cleo's nursery:

Valkaria Gardens
...where the tropics begin.

8205 Babcock Street
Grant-Valkaria, Florida 32909
Ray - a bump to remind you that this date is rapidly approaching. Need to get the west coast herd organized.

On the east coast, PM me if you are into share-a-ride or join us in a caravan.

Perhaps Randy & Ricky can organize Palm Beach. I think bahadawn told me she wanted to go.

Bring your books for Frank Brown to sign. If you have the 1960 book, he really gets a kick outta seeing those turning up!

Lets make this happen! Would be a nice tribute to Dr. Brown having the Croton Heads showing up!!! :cool:
Its the day prior to Easter Sunday. Those who I have contacted have prior commitments. Anybody from South Florida interested in sharing a ride/gas? :confused: Send me a PM if interested.

Any plans going on with the West Coast consortium?
I guess its appropriate the last lecture is on Easter weekend. Dr. Brown's Sermon on the Mount!

O my people, you shall plant the burning bush, the croton....

I sent an email to the above address to get confirmation this is still taking place. I haven't received a reply yet, but will let everyone know if it is still a go.

Lucky for me its only a 40 minute drive for me. Those damn gas prices are near 4 bucks a gallon now. Drive safe if you make the trip.
I'm calm as a cumbercu - until I get stuck behind some idiot doing 55mph in the left hand lane when the speed limit is 70mph. The most ignored traffic sign in Florida is "Slower Traffic Keep Right".
You should just make it a game. First get in front of the car going 55mph in the fast lane and now for the fun part to see how slow you have to go in front of the car that was doing 55mph to get the car to change lanes. And soon as they change lanes you accelerate start going the speed limit 70mph and see how many cars are able to pass the car that was driving 55mph in the fast lane before they hop back in the fast lane again. Cars going slower then the speed limit in the fast lane is a pet peeve of mine and cars that have to slam there brakes to look at the car changing a tire etc. on the opposite side of the freeway aka highway aka interstate.
If you can't make it, you can't make it.

Its a long drive for you Miami guys. Luckily however, it is South Brevard and just off the Interstate if you do decide to make the drive.
If you have any questions for Dr.Brown post them here and I'll check this forum before I go to "the last lecture" and try to get an answer.
If you have any questions for Dr.Brown post them here and I'll check this forum before I go to "the last lecture" and try to get an answer.
I have a theory that there were at least two original Codiaeum species, the well documented small-leaved species Codiaeum variegatum var. moluccanum, and a large-leaved species represented by Codiaeum variegatum 'Rheedii'.

'Rheedii" (the first recorded croton) was found by H. A. Van Rheede in the 1670's/1680's in culitvated gardens in southwestern India, where the locals reported that it was imported from China. This form seems to have been unknown to Rumphius who was busy at the same time cataloging the crotons of the Moluccan Islands, where it seems there were no really large-leaved crotons.

My question for Dr. Brown is, does he think this is a plausible idea?

Dr. Brown had his Last Lecture yesterday. Pretty good turn out. Cleo's nursery looks outstanding. Dr.Brown is 95 and I didn't notice any difference in him since the last time I talked to him ten years ago. He happily signed autographs. His speech touched on his years collecting croton, cordyline, and aglaenoma... along with bromeliads and other tropical plants.

There were a few memoriable moments. One is when Dr. Brown said the date he started collecting plants and he said "1852" followed by a long silence. About ten seconds later everyone had calculated the error and got a good laugh out of it.

Another one was when a lady stood up and thanked Dr. Brown for inspiring her into gardening 26 years ago. I got a little teary eye on that one. She was passionate in her praise.

Dr. Brown was appreciative of the big crowd and Cleo also spoke about his time with him and his time in the Philippines.

I'm glad I went!
I took a lot of photos, like usual. Cleo's nursery is beautiful and is a display garden along with a working nursery.




Dr.Brown signed a ton of books this day. Just about everyone was bringing up their books by him to get autographed.

He talked in length about writing the books and the history of croton collecting. Both Cleo and Dr. Brown talked about their time in the Phillipines and how they met.




Here is towards the end and people were standing up and talking about how Dr.Brown has inspired their own gardens. This gentlemen owns a tropical garden in Stuart. The first lady who stood up really bought a tear to my eye. I'm thinking...wait, I'm crying at a gardening function?!? She talked about 3 minutes on how she moved here 26 years ago from up North and knew nothing about tropical garden and that Dr. Brown really helped her out in learning.

Dr. Brown is an educator and was at one time Brevard County School superintendent. He also has a building named after him at Melbourne High School. His passion for gardening started in 1952 at the Melbourne High School where he saw his first croton and wanted to learn more about it. He found there was no info on the plant and that started him on his travels to find the history of the croton along with writing the two books. The 1960 Florida's Beautiful Croton and his 80's Enc. of Croton.



I waited to the end and went up and personally thanked Dr. Brown and here he is signing my 1960 book! He remembered me back when I interviewed him for the Florida Gardening Mag article I wrote. It was a short conversation, but I told him, "Thanks for the inspiration".


The cordylines look better than the crotons. I think I will start collecting them-----too late !!! Ive already started.
It was such an honor to be able to hear Dr. Brown's lecture this past weekend, and to meet him in person. I was just getting the courage to pose a question about "sports" on crotons (as this was something I had not yet quite understood), when Dr. Brown gave a little lesson on it. Interested to learn that when the sport appears, it should be cut off and rooted so as not to overpower the original plant. Pretty cool for a non-scientific type such as myself. It is obvious that Dr. Brown is a very gracious man, and it is quite a testament to his character to see all the devotees there, and to hear such wonderful accolades.
fyi, the latest (Feb '13) issue of Florida Gardening Magazine has an article about this Last Lecture and more on Dr. Brown. If you don't want to buy the mag it wouldn't take too long to read it at the newsstand rack.