- Author: Jan Hambleton
I recently returned from a vacation in Florida, and a highlight was our visit to the Florida Botanical Garden. It is located in Pinellas Country, near Saint Petersburg. It was approximately a 20-minute drive from Tampa.
The garden is on several acres of land that is separated into two sections. The botanical gardens are sited on 92 acres, and a historical village is on 21 acres. (The village section has 33 historical structures, forming a small town.) They have 2.5 miles of pathways that wind through different plots, from tropical areas, native habitats and formal settings, including a wedding garden.
We were fortunate to be greeted by Theresa Badurek when we entered the gardens. She is the University of Florida extension agent, and teaches all the local Master Gardeners. She was very gracious and answered our many questions.
The east garden includes an azalea garden, a bromeliad garden, a cactus and succulent garden, a palm garden, a vinery and a tropical walk. In the west garden there is a butterfly garden, an herb garden, a native garden, a tropical fruit garden and a vegetable garden display.
The tropical fruit garden was intriguing, especially so because you may walk so close to the plants we do not usually see in our area. I was most curious to see a cinnamon tree, of which they have several.
Throughout the area there are several ponds and streams, which led to our most interesting experience. We came across a park employee gazing across a pond and inquired what she was watching…an alligator!
This time of year is mating season, and alligators travel long distances searching for a mate. The big male jumped in the pond and came over toward our side. The ranger said she hoped he remained in the pond or they would have to remove him!! We certainly watched much more carefully for any possible creatures near us.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the botanical garden, I suggest you go when the gardens first open in the morning. Florida is very humid and hot in June. A hat, water and an early start will make the trip more comfortable.
The admission is free, and dogs are welcome if on a leash and you pick up after them.
Florida Botanica Garden
12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL. 33774 Tel: 727 5822100