By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger. March 9, 2021. Tropicana Park. Ft. Myers, Florida.
Billy Kunkler has been a resident of Tropicana for 7 years. He is from Kansas City where he spent his earlier years working on and racing cars and motorcycles. He’s had quite a few broken bones and other injuries in the past. Billy also has quite a few tattoos up and down his arms and he is part Apache and proud of it. He says that people sometimes misjudge him by his appearance, but he is more professor than Harley guy.
Billy came here to fulfill a dream and he found it at the intersection of Pine and Coral Drives in Tropicana Park. That unusual location looks like a green peninsula with plenty of room to plant, and plant he did, and he has never stopped.
Bill Kunkler is an expert on exotic trees and plants and he loves to discuss his personal arboretum. Eileen and I stopped by and were astonished by what we saw, and Billy enthusiastically gave us a tour.
His collection of trees and plants includes quite a few exotic specimens. Billy says, “I spend all my money on plants.” He is generous with cuttings, and his neighbors have quite a few of Billy’s botanical offspring on their properties.
His most impressive tree is a Screwpine, native to Madagascar, with large female seedpods hanging down. It took six men to lift the huge root ball and place it into the ground on his property, on the Pine Drive side. The strange bottom consists of secondary growth for support.
Billy paid a small fortune for that specimen, but it gives him year round pleasure.
Here are some photos of a selection of his plantings:
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