Favorite Gardens in Florida

Kari C. Barlow
| February 22, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
A pond dotted with lily pads. A fountain flows in the background. Naples Botanical Garden

Take in the verdant beauty of these inviting Florida gardens.

Naples Botanical Garden, Naples

This urban oasis, which sits just 3 miles from downtown Naples, offers visitors an experience like no other. Founded in 1993 by a group of local plant enthusiasts, the lush 170-acre tropical garden has everything from delicate orchids to hearty succulents. It also features a 1-mile paved walking path that winds around two lakes and a birding tower as well as a half-mile uplands nature trail. Within the main garden are several smaller, specialized areas including Asian, Brazilian (above), orchid and Caribbean gardens. A Florida garden includes wildflowers, native palm trees, manmade waterfalls and a host of plants from across the globe to symbolize Florida’s melting pot of people and cultures.

A brick walkway turns a corner around a large established tree. Florida State Parks

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Tallahassee

Spring and early summer are the perfect time to explore this state park’s 28-acre historic ornamental garden. The gardens—which feature a picturesque brick walkway (above), massive live oaks, palms, a reflection pool, a secret garden and an inner walled garden—are filled with more than 150 varieties of camellias, more than 60 varieties of azaleas and scores of dogwoods. The floral masterpiece was designed and planted by Alfred B. Maclay in 1923 after he and his wife, Louise, purchased the property for their winter home. Maclay’s aim was to show how native and exotic plants could be used to create unique and beautiful settings. He worked the gardens until his death in 1944, and Louise donated the property to Florida’s state park system in 1953.

A group of four young people walk along a path underneath tree branches draped with Spanish moss. Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales

Set aside three to four hours to explore the many nooks and crannies of this sprawling landscape garden founded by American author and activist Edward Bok in 1929. Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. designed the garden, which features quiet resting spots, nature trails, a pond and scenic views of the stately Singing Tower amid acres of palms, ferns, oaks, pines and an array of azaleas, camellias and magnolias. The property is also home to 126 different species of birds along with the fanciful Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden (above), which includes a fairy house trail, a frog hop and a river walk with spray jets and misters. Visitors can lunch at the Blue Palmetto Café or bring in their own food and beverages for a picnic on the grounds.

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