Anyone who is the least bit interested in the elegant forms, flashy colors and showy markings of bromeliads should visit Josefa Leon and her daughters. Together they’ve created Sunshine Bromeliads in Southwest Ranches.
“This isn’t just a business, it’s a passion,” says Shirley Konefal of Hollywood who has been a regular customer for seven years.
This spot, which opened to the public in 1999, isn’t easy to find, so you may need your GPS. But once through the gate, you’ll find a garden where you can explore and get ideas for displaying these plants. Then you can head out back to purchase what you want to take home.
This three-acre property is replete with just about every shape and color of bromeliad you can imagine — pink, purple, cream, yellow, lush green, lime green, red, orange, the list goes on. There are those with stunning purple blooms and towering red ones; yellow flowers and coral ones.
At the front of the property, the bromeliads are tucked into sabal and Christmas palms, used to cover snags and left to dangle from trees. They surround a large fountain and koi pond as well as fill a shade house where Leon keeps the ones she plans to propagate and show. She has shelves full of awards.
“Being here is like being in a secret garden,” says Carolyn McCann, a customer from Plantation. “This is my happy place.”
When it comes time to get serious about buying a specimen or two or three, head to the large net-covered shade house where the plants are for sale
Leon came to this country from Cuba in 1962. She bought her first bromeliad almost 35 years ago and since then she hasn’t been able to get enough of them. She’s traveled to Venezuela and Costa Rica in search of special varieties.
If you need help making a selection or deciding on an artful mix, just say so. The women will point things out and even help you gather your selections on a two-wheeled cart. “We charge for the plants, not the artistry,” says Amador as she helps her mother pick bromeliads to garnish a piece of wall art left by a customer who will pick it up later.
It’s a pleasure just strolling the aisles. “We don’t walk around behind you making you feel uncomfortable. But feel free to ask anything,” says Amador who recently retired from the insurance industry to help her mother at the nursery.
“We get our energy from these plants,” says Leon, who should know. At age 86, she still works in her garden and tends the store almost every day.