Garden Field Trips

Path through a bamboo grove at Kanapaha

A path winds through the bamboo grove at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville.

December is a slow month in the garden for many Floridians. Between hectic holiday schedules, travel, and visiting friends and family, time in the garden can be quite limited. However, this is a great time to check out some of the fabulous gardens around the state and fill that plant void that may develop.

Maybe you're visiting an area away from home and want to check out the nearest botanical gardens. Or you have holiday visitors you need to entertain. Or maybe you just need a little garden inspiration to carry you into the new year. Florida has some truly great botanical gardens throughout the state, and listing them all would be quite the undertaking. However, here are just a few of the more famous gardens you could visit for inspiration this holiday season. Take note that some of these gardens may have special holiday displays or hours, so be sure to consult the websites before you finalize your plans.

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is located in Tallahassee. This Southern garden is beautiful all year round, but is best known for its early spring blooms of camellias, azaleas, and Japanese magnolia. This is surely a state park not to be missed. https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Maclay-Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville features a natural-style garden and is famous for its extensive bamboo collection, well-labeled herb garden, and children's garden. http://kanapaha.org/

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens inspires visitors with formal gardens on the banks of the St. Johns River. The gardens feature beautiful old live oaks and views of the Jacksonville skyline. http://www.cummermuseum.org/

Florida Botanical Gardens has multiple garden "rooms," making it a wonderful educational experience for visitors to learn more about Florida plants. Located in Largo, admission to this garden is free and of course, be sure to check the calendar for ongoing programs and special events. http://www.flbg.org/

McKee Botanical Garden is a Vero Beach treasure offering visitors an opportunity to meander down winding garden paths through a display of many tropical plants. https://www.mckeegarden.org/

A formal garden in Selby

A formal garden at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has relaxing views of Sarasota Bay, coupled with a variety of orchids, bromeliads, and epiphytes, making this garden an engaging place to visit. As an added bonus, the bookstore is well-stocked and a must-visit for garden and book enthusiasts alike. http://selby.org/

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, west of Delray Beach in Palm Beach County, transports visitors to a meditative experience with a tranquil stroll around the lake, surrounded by Japanese gardens. Check out the beautiful bonsais and look into attending one of the cultural demos; they offer live demonstrations on select Saturdays. https://morikami.org/


Naples Botanical Garden is one of Florida's newer gardens. Be sure to visit the Brazilian garden, the Caribbean garden, and the wonderful orchid collection. Don't forget to check out the visitor center which is LEED Gold Certified—the second-highest level for this global green-building certification. https://www.naplesgarden.org/

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden located in Coral Gables is perhaps the finest tropical botanical garden in the state. The rare plant house, new butterfly house, and one of the world's largest palm collections make this a must-see garden. Check the calendar before you go because this garden has many wonderful events. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/

So get out there, enjoy nature, and get some garden inspiration. May your holidays be cheer-filled and your garden explorations be inspiring. Say good bye to the past year and start the New Year full of inspiration.

Vistors looking at the tropical plants next to relief-style statue of a couple dancing

Along with amazing plants, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables has art installed throughout.


Return to the December 2016 Neighborhood Gardener