Jené VanButsel has something juicy to share with you: "There's more to life than apples and oranges."
For nearly 23 years, VanButsel has owned Jené's Tropicals, a St. Petersburg nursery that functions as an Eden for gardeners and fruit fans.
"My nursery is like an oasis in a concrete jungle," VanButsel said of the exotic plant store right off Central Avenue.
VanButsel and her team specialize in tropical fruit trees such as mango, lychee nut, avocado, blueberry plants, pomegranate trees and guavas. She enjoys educating people about edible landscaping and likes to introduce them to an array of wonderful fruits that can be grown in any back yard. Her nursery boasts the largest selection in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, including an Indian mango tree called Pram Kae Mea, which VanButsel says translates to: I'd trade my wife for this mango.
She also sells longan trees, white, black and mamey sapote, jackfruit, wax jambu, Spanish limes, red bananas, and dragon fruit, among others.
If you have no idea what these delicacies taste like and are interested in a new and refreshing palate experience, join VanButsel next weekend as she hosts her 13th annual tropical fruit tasting called the Taste of the Tropics. Various assortments of the fruit will be sliced so visitors can taste some of the tropical treats.
"We also whip up fresh tropical fruit desserts and other ethnic tropical fruit dishes for the sampling," she said.
VanButsel hopes visitors will sign up for a free chance to win a 6-foot grafted mango tree and will stroll through the nursery to take in the palms and other flowering and ornamental plants.
"We currently have the most magnificent 30-foot rainbow shower tree in bloom. It is spectacular," she said.
Taste of the Tropics
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 18 and 19.
Where: Jené's Tropicals, 6831 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
For details: Call (727) 344-1668 or visit tropicalfruit.com.
Annual Studio Seconds Event: Craftsman House potters Stephanie Schorr, Stephanie Evans, Amy Peseller and Branan Mercer will have their artwork on display for show and sale. Drop by early for the best selection. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Craftsman House, 2955 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Call (727) 323-2787 or visit
Lunch with artist Mabel Palacin: Meet artist Mabel Palacin during an intimate brunch at the Salvador Dali Museum. After brunch, Palacin will lead a group tour of her "Una Noche Sin Fin" exhibit. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dali Museum, 1000 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. $50. Reservations required. Call (727) 823-3767, ext. 3043.
Masonic Band concert: The Masonic Band of St. Petersburg, conducted by Peter Harris and Fred Nunes, presents a free live concert. Masonic Home, 3201 First St. NE, St. Petersburg. 4 p.m. Free. Call (727) 822-3499.
Summer One-Act Play Festival: Nine short plays by local playwrights, featuring comedy and drama staged by the Gulfport Community Players. 2 p.m. Catherine Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S, Gulfport. $15. Call (727) 322-0316 or visit gulfportcommunityplayers.org.
Wild Spirits: Common themes of vivid color and tactile qualities are exhibited in three distinct displays of works by four Florida artists. Felipe Packard and Ricardo de la Vega collaborate to create sculpture in cast paper, reflecting their Mexican heritage and fondness for bold color and imagery, creating life-sized animals and human figures that dazzle the eye. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Call (727) 822-7872 or visit theartscenter.org.
In a New Light: This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view many large-scale works, along with museum visitors' favorites and hidden treasures that have not been on view in recent years. Artists represented include Theo Wujcik and Duncan McClellan, two Tampa Bay favorites, along with world-renowned names such as George Inness and Clyde Butcher. Florida International Museum at St. Petersburg College Downtown Center, 244 Second Ave. N. $8 for adults, $6 seniors/military, $5 students. Call (727) 341-7900.
Paper: Off and On the Wall: More than 25 artists have created original, current wallpaper representations of chintzes, heavy damasks, chinoiseries, and tromp l'oeil patterns, with influences of contemporary design. Part of Florida Craftsmen's fine craft and lifestyle series. Florida Craftsmen Galleries, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call (727) 821-7391.
Summer theater camps 2009: This camp is open to students ages 7 to 14. Each camp includes classes in dance, voice and acting, and the camp will result in a full-length production to be performed for the public. Production for this session is Annie Get Your Gun, directed by Gidget Cross. St. Petersburg Little Theater, 4025 31st St. S. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. $350. Call (727) 866-1973.
Tea Dance at the Historic Coliseum: Don't think you can dance? Professional instruction from Ray Stone is available 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Taped music will run 12:30 to 1 p.m., and live music 1 to 3:30 p.m. Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $9 for dance and instruction, $7 for dance only. Call (727) 892-5202.
WaterWise Florida Landscapes: Find water-saving alternatives, like micro-irrigation, to the traditional ways of watering your lawn. Rain barrels for sale. 6 to 8:30 p.m. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. $10, registration required. Call (727) 893-7326.
Family Cooking Series: "Step Into the Kitchen," a five-class cooking series, teaches how to make healthy food choices and fun, nutritious menus. Minimum age: 8. Online registration required. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Starts Thursday and runs Thursdays through Aug. 13. All Children's Hospital Education Center, 701 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg. $25 for one parent and child for the series; each additional person, $5. Call (727) 582-2100 or visit pinellascountyextension.org.
BayWalk Wine & Music: The Third Friday Wine & Music series in the courtyard presents wines from Barefoot Wine and Bubbly, and live music. 5 to 8 p.m. BayWalk, 151 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (813) 383-5413, ext. 101, or visit newbaywalk.com.
Craft Beer Expo: This event promises a toast to all things beer, from beer with chocolate to beer "floats." Foods will be served, coupled with beer seminars and brewmaster talks. Must be 21 or older. 2 to 7 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $30 beer tasting only; $50 advance beer and food tasting; $60 at door. Call (727) 892-5767, toll-free at 1-800-745-3000, or visit mahaffeytheater.com.
MFA Hands On!: "The Art of Card Making." 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg. Included with museum admission. Call (727) 896-2667 or fine-arts.org.
Saturday Summer Market: Visit the new summer location of the Saturday Morning Market, and enjoy a variety of farm-fresh produce, gourmet foods, tropical plants and flowers, interesting crafts, and live music. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market is on the first floor of the Mahaffey Theater/Progress Energy Center for the Arts Parking Garage, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. Call (727) 455-4921 or visit saturdaymorningmarket.com.
Third Saturday Art Walk: This event features entertainment, artists, crafts, antique dealers and art demonstrations. Free trolley rides. Pet friendly. 6 to 10 p.m. Beach Boulevard, Gulfport. Free admission. Call (727) 322-5217.
Weedon Guided Hike: Hike through mangroves and upland ecosystems. The hike is best for adults and kids 6 or older. Advance registration is required by 2 p.m. on the Friday before the hike. 9 a.m. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 453-6500.