Harry P. Leu Gardens

Pick up a guide map inside the Welcome Center then stroll around the many paths to the spectacular gardens while enjoying the serenity at Harry P. Leu Gardens at 1920 North Forest Avenue in Orlando. Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane lived at their home for twenty-five years that is now a museum. A history of their home and gardens on the website.

Wyckoff Overlook named after John Wyckoff one of the original board members. Lean over the rails facing Lake Rowena and see if you can spot River Otters, snakes or turtles all native to Florida. Six varieties of birds inhabit the lake as well as the alligator.




Sit on a bench dedicated to a loved one and listen to the songbirds. A Southern Oak, and a Camphor Tree from Eastern Asia both trees can grow 60 to 100 feet that provides shade for walkers and a home for birds. Stand at a bridge in the Tropical Stream Garden and listen to the rushing sounds of a waterfall.

Groundcover from Asia, Yellow Trumpet Tree from Brazil that can grow 30-40 feet. Angel’s Trumpet native to South America grow as high as 8-12 feet.

Stroll throughout the Butterfly Garden and read about the Monarch Waystation that provides a source of food for the Monarch butterflies. The Monarch Butterflies fly thousands of miles from Canada to Mexico each fall. Two hundred species of butterflies live in Florida and 7 found in Leu Gardens.

A bronze sculpture of Citrus Workers by William Ludwig, sculptor. He was born in Hartford, Connecticut and created original bronze sculptures throughout his career.

Herbs used for medicinal and healing properties for over 60,000 years. A large variety of herbs in the herb garden grown for cooking and medicinal purposes. Different varieties of vegetables grow in the vegetable garden.

I have toured the gardens several times and will return. Hours of operation and admission prices on the website.


Nature Coast Botanical Gardens

Walk through the trestle, pick up a map at the Welcome Center and stroll along the brick path that surrounds the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens at 1489 Parker Avenue in Spring Hill.

A Japanese Garden Pagoda and statues throughout the Asian Garden. Garden statues found in the other gardens as well. Small, tart plums grow on the Chickasaw Plum Trees in the Native Plant Garden. The Spruce Pine native to North Florida grows up to 40-feet. The Needle Palm a slow-growing palm reaches heights of up to 8-feet and can tolerate temperatures below zero. Wild Coffee a shrub that produces berries that attract butterflies. The berries roasted and served as a beverage.

Stand at the bridge looking down at the pond while viewing some of the native plants in the wetlands area. With the sun streaming through the tree, stand at the Tree of Life dedicated to the thousands of people who died on 9-11.





Walk through the leaf-strewn path in the Rain Forest. Sit on a bench look up and see the many trees that offer a canopy. Sit in a gazebo relax and enjoy the surroundings. Twenty gardens make up the botanical gardens. Purchase a brick in memory of a loved one, donations accepted. The on-site nursery sells plants. Check the website for hours of operation.


Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens

Pick up a map at the welcome center and walk around the outside and admire the fountain then follow the paths throughout the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens at 2410 SE Westmoreland Blvd in Port St. Lucie. Situated on 21 acres that includes wetlands and mangroves. A wide variety of unusual plants, and trees all through the gardens.

Inside the Hibiscus Garden a 3 Cubes sculpture an abstract geometric sculpture made of stainless steel by Dale Rogers.





Walk along the native plant garden a hidden path that includes the White Indigo Berry an evergreen tree that grows 6 to 10 feet. Coco plum that produces an edible plum and the Gumbo Limbo a tree native to South Florida.

Stand under the gazebo in the Secret Garden, read about the many uses of Bamboo in the Bamboo Garden. The Monarch Butterfly often seen in the Butterfly Display Garden. Native and migratory butterflies inhabit the garden.

Walk under the circular trestle to the Rose Garden the Southern Old Rose and other varieties inside the garden.

Bring a picnic lunch or sit on a bench in the butterfly garden or in the event lawn. I won’t describe all the gardens but each garden is beautiful and worth exploring. Before leaving stop in the gift shop and browse for gifts from local arts. Admission is free, donations accepted. Contact the staff on the website for events.

Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens a historical landmark located at 1825 4th Street North in St. Petersburg. Take a map, follow the pathway around the gardens, stop and take pleasure in all that the gardens offer. Sunken Gardens opened in 1935 to the public. When George Turner bought the property, he drained the shallow lake and found the growing stone a fossilized limestone rock, which is on display at the gardens.

Lillypads surround the Koi Pond. The Japanese started raising Koi in the seventeenth century. The fish can live up to 50 years but some reported to be 100 years old.

The Balloon Milkweed Plant comes in green and white flowers. The Dutchman’s Pipevine a tall vertical vine in brown sparkled with yellow that grows up to 30 feet both attract the Monarch butterfly inside the Butterfly Garden. Even though butterflies were in flight in the butterfly garden, I wasn’t able to capture any butterflies on camera.




Walk along the winding pathway and under trestles surrounded by beautiful foliage while admiring the fountains, ponds and waterfalls. Different species of exotic birds reside in the gardens. Chilean Flamingos, Umbrella Cockatoo native to Australia and Macaw Parrots native to Central and South America.





Cacti and other succulents surround the elephant sculpture in the garden. Plan a wedding on the North Lawn, stand at the arched bridge a great photo opportunity.

I recommend the gardens, so much beauty. Admission prices, hours of operation on the website.


McKee Botanical Garden





McKee Botanical Garden situated on eighteen acres listed on the National Register of Historic Places located at 350 US Highway 1 in Vero Beach. Walk across the Historic Stone Bridge to the trails, wooden bridges, paths, ponds and streams that surround the garden. Stand at a bridge, look down at a stream and admire the many different varieties of Waterlilies and Aquatics that inhabit them. Trees, vines, shrubs and herbaceous plants provide a canopy throughout the garden. Relax on a bench and enjoy the serenity and calming sounds of a waterfall. Take shelter from the sun under a thatched roof rain shelter.A film and poster displays about the early years inside the Hall of Giants. Arthur G. McKee and Waldo Sexton, both industrialists and visionaries opened an attraction that gave people an opportunity to see the many different plant species from around the world as well as the many wild animals that made up the jungle gardens. McKee Jungle Gardens an eighty-acre tourist attraction opened in the early 1930s. Due to low attendance, the park closed in 1976. The garden opened in 2001 after a fundraising campaign to buy the land and restore the garden to its former beauty.

A temporary exhibition through April 29th of this year includes twenty-four African Animal Sculptures created by the Art Collective in Nairobi, Kenya. African artists trained in all forms of art by Moses Ochieng. Animals throughout the garden described in detail through interpretive exhibits.





Edible fruit from Brazil, tropical plants from Asia, a Dragon Tree that originates from India whose root looks like a Dragon’s tail. Royal Palms native to Florida, Cuba and Honduras. The palms grow to one hundred feet that are the tallest in the world.

Stickwork Sculpture named The “Royals” by Patrick Dougherty a world-renowned artist who takes trees and twigs and transforms them into art. The “Tower” a prism made of clear glass bulbs and rods by Hans Godo Fräbel, a glass sculptor. I’ve named a few but over ten permanent landscapes are in the garden.

I highly recommend visiting the garden. McKee Botanical Garden is the first garden that I’ve visited and written about that has traveling exhibits. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens






Kanapaha Botanical Gardens situated on sixty-two acres located at 4700 SW 58th Drive in Gainesville. Stop and read a memory brick then look up at one of the tall bamboo trees along the walkway to the entrance garden. Bring your lunch and eat in the picnic area or on one of the tables on the wrap-around porch. pict1249





pict1320Stroll along the 1-mile East Garden loop or the Native Woodlands Trail. Walk through the labyrinth, stand alongside the different ponds and admire the many garden statues. Numerous gazebos surrounded by beauty.





Stand on a bridge and listen to the sound of a waterfall and the water that runs through the rocks underneath the bridge. Four waterfalls encompass the Water Feature Gardens a ½-mile area.

Twenty specialty gardens throughout Kanapaha, I can’t list them all. I recommend a return visit. Hours, fees and rental space for weddings and other events available on the website.


Discovery Gardens






PICT0405PICT0403Discovery Gardens located at 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares. Ponds, garden statues and fountains throughout the gardens. From the Backyard Habitat to the Southwest Garden signs or maps help identify each garden. The Persian Shield a shrub native to Myanmar, the Variegated Shell Ginger and the Rangoon Creeper both native to Asia all along the path.

PICT0387Stand on a bridge and admire the many plants native to Central Florida Freshwater Wetlands. The Water Hemlock a perennial herb that grows up to 8 feet. A Red Maple that grows well in swampy areas that can grow to 50 to 60 feet.

PICT0446Sit on a bench donated by individuals or clubs. Have a picnic on one of the tables. Sit in a gazebo, relax and admire the native plants in the landscape garden.





A canopy of plants and trees in the Tropical Shade Garden. Walk through the mulch lined walkway and admire the Xanadu, a Philodendron, Coontie, a plant native to Florida and Indian Head Ginger native to Central and South America. Loquat a fruit tree grown in Japan for over a thousand years but native to South-Central China.

Over thirteen gardens and hundreds of plants to enjoy that I can’t possibly name them all. Free entrance to the gardens, hours of operation on the website.

University of South Florida (USF) Botanical Gardens

PICT0317University of South Florida Botanical Gardens located at 12210 USF Pine Drive in Tampa. A monument dedicated to Dr. Roy H. Behnke and Mrs. Ruth Behnke for their devotion and dedication to the university community.





The Fish Fountain was off when we passed by to enter the conservatory. Orchids, begonias, shrubs and trees encircle the pond and all around the conservatory.

Pygmy Date Palm

Pygmy Date Palm

Rock Tassel Fern

Rock Tassel Fern

Pink Jatropha

Pink Jatropha





Walk along the brick path in the Shade Garden and admire the Pygmy Date Palm that grows 8 to 10 feet, different varieties of ferns and a Pink Jatropha that blooms year round in mild climate or sit on a bench and relax in the Shade Garden.

Bamboo Tree

Bamboo Tree

Lychee Tree

Lychee Tree

Macadamia Tree

Macadamia Tree





Neem Tree

Neem Tree

Stroll along the mulch-lined walkway and admire The Bamboo Tree and the Lychee Tree an evergreen fruit tree both native to Southern China. Macadamia Tree, a tropical tree native to Australia grows up to 35 feet and the Neem Tree a medicinal plant native to India. Have a picnic on one of the tables or rent the gazebo for a special event.






Eleven different plants in the medicinal garden. Take a pamphlet and read about the medicinal uses. Over six hundred thirty species of Carnivorous plants exist in the world. Take a brochure and read about their life cycle.





Walk over to the Honey Bee Haven a place for bees and other pollinators. A number of host plants and a good chance to spot butterflies in the afternoon.

PICT0345PICT0353Cross a wooden bridge to the cactus and succulent garden. Different types of cactus on display. A Peruvian Apple native to South America that can grow up to 33 feet. Step inside the greenhouse to see more cactus and succulent plants. Entrance fees to the botanical gardens, hours of operation on the website.


Florida Tech Botanical Garden

PICT2044Walk through the covered bridge to the 15-acre botanical garden  at 150 W. University Blvd in Melbourne. The garden located on the campus of Florida Institute of Technology.







The Dent Smith Trail named after the man who helped develop the palm garden at FIT. A monument in honor of Dr. Jerome P. Keuper, president of the institute and founder of the botanical garden. Creeks and trails throughout the garden as well as over two-hundred palms. Have a picnic on one of the tables or just sit and relax on one of the benches donated by friends of the garden.

PICT2029The little red schoolhouse built in the early 1880s by John Goode an early settler. A plaque details the history of the school. A garden wouldn’t be complete without a gazebo dedicated in 2009.

PICT2051PICT2056Palms from all over the world encompass the garden. From the Bottle Palm native to the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean to the King Palm from the rainforests of eastern Australia. Cabbage, Paurotis and Royal Palms native to Florida.

Print a map and download the self-guided tour. The botanical garden is lush and very serene. Entrance to the garden is free; hours of operation on the website.



Heathcote Botanical Gardens

PICT1478PICT1479Fall is a good time to visit Heathcote Botanical Gardens at 210 Savannah Road in Ft. Pierce. Founded in 1960 by Mollie and Jim Crimmins. Meander on a brick path through a trellis to the Herb Garden. Bay Rum and Allspice Trees native to the Caribbean both used in cooking. Salvia Indigo Spires used as an herb and a Pomegranate tree native to Persia known for its health benefits.






Bonsai, a Japanese word that means “Tray Cultivation.” The Bonsai Gallery dedicated to James P. Smith, Bonsai Master. Walk along the path and admire the 100 Bonsai trees that grow in the garden. Weeping Fig Ficus, Willow Leaf Ficus, Ficus Retusa and Bougainvillea a few of the trees grown. A Japanese Pavilion on-site as part of the garden.







Many different sizes of Tillandsias air plants displayed at the entrance of the Japanese Garden. Japanese lanterns, a Dwarf Buddha’s Belly Bamboo plant and a statue of a Buddha. Stone steps form a circle to the top of the lily pond and back down again.





A replica of a 1880s Pioneer House, Children’s’ Pioneer Cabin and a Seminole chicken hut roof. Read the numerous engraved bricks donated on the main path in memory of or in honor of as you walk and admire the many flowers and trees.





Pass through the trestle to the butterfly garden. Coontie and Milkweed host plants two of the twelve butterfly hosts (Larval) plants in the garden. Atala a Florida butterfly, Monarch and Pipevine Swallowtail three of the twelve species of butterflies. White Shrimp, Periwinkle Vinca and Yellow tip three of the twenty-five nectar plants that inhabit the butterfly garden.





The Autograph, Hong Kong Orchid, White Champak and The Madagascar Olive Tree are some of the trees in the Rain Forest. Cross the bridge to view the picturesque waterfall or sit on a bench and listen to the relaxing sound the waterfall makes.






Once the doors swing open at the Reflection Garden, wash away all your cares at the reflection pond. Sit on a bench and reflect, meditate and admire the many plants that surround the garden including the Black Magic Ti Plant a plant with its dark purple foliage and the Milky Way Plant with its yellow polka dots. Entrance fees; hours of operation located on the website.