February 2015 Newsletter

Interview: Libby Besse by Ray Hernandez

In November of last year, IPS Director Kim Cyr asked me to interview Libby Besse for the online IPS newsletter. I was delighted at the opportunity to have a one-on-one meeting with one I consider to be a living legend in the palm world. Here was a name I’d held in reverence since my early palm growing days. Along with Dent Smith, Dr. Jerome
Keuper and Dr. U.A. Young, Libby and By were palm growing pioneers in Central Florida. They’d seen tropical storms, hurricanes and freezes, and through trial and error, became familiar with the Florida soil and learned what would and would not grow in their garden. Complementing the technical and scientific information, this was the everyday Joe’s home cultivation side of the Palm Society. It is Libby and the others like her that gave the Palm Society, now the International Palm Society, its most fundamental “roots”.

On a cool January Florida day, my wife, daughter and I made the one hour trek from Tampa to Libby’s home on Siesta Key. I’d been to Libby’s garden a few times before but At home in Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida, Libby chats with Ray Hernandez.

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