From West Palm Beach to Key West here’s a look at some extraordinary gardens throughout South Florida. From sculptures and Japanese tea houses to rainforests and jungles South Florida gardens are as varied as they are spectacular. Take a trip to Japan at the Morikami Museum in Delray or to Hawaii at The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove.
Mounts Botanical Garden, 559 North Military Trail in West Palm Beach
Mounts Botanical Garden is Palm Beach County’s oldest and largest public garden. It includes 14 acres of landscaped gardens that should give visitors ideas of what they can accomplish in their own home exterior spaces. The garden displays tropical and subtropical plants from six continents, including plants native to Florida, exotic trees, tropical fruit, herbs, citrus, palms and more.
Must Sees: Check out their vegetable and dooryard tropical fruit garden, shade and color Island and rose-fragrance garden.
Call 561-233-1757 or visit Mounts.org for more information.
Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, 253 Barcelona Road in West Palm Beach
The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens consists of the Norton House and 1.7 acres of property. It features more than 100 sculptures by Ann Weaver Norton, the second wife and widow of Ralph Hubbard Norton, an art collector and museum founder. The sculptures are displayed in the house, studio and gardens.
Must Sees: The gardens feature more than 300 species of tropical palms. One of the must see items are the Ann Norton’s Gateway sculptures.
Call 561-832-5328 or visit www.ansg.org for more information.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Road in Delray Beach
The museum features exhibition galleries, a 225-seat theater, authentic tea house with viewing gallery, library, classrooms, museum store, cafe and lakeside terrace with Japanese courtyard garden. The museum houses 5,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts, while the 200 acres that surround the two museum buildings include expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, tropical bonsai collection, small lakes, nature trails, pine forests and park and picnic areas.
Must Sees: Must Sees include the museum’s many festivals including the Lantern Festival In the Spirit of Obon during which guests will personalize hand-made, paper lanterns with special messages to honor and remember their loved ones. Other festivals include New Year celebration Oshogatsu and the annual Spring festival Hatsume.
Call 561-495-0233 or visit www.morikami.org for more information.
Flamingo Gardens, 3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie
This 60-acre botanical gardens and wildlife sanctuary features thousands of rare, exotic and native plants, as well as alligators, bobcats, otters, flamingos and over 70 native species of birds. They feature native and exotic plants living among Florida's largest collection of "Champion" trees. They are also a sanctuary for injured non-releasable Florida Wildlife.
Must Sees. Some of the must-sees include a free-flight Aviary with over 40 species of Florida wading birds, the Florida panther habitat, the Flamingo pond, river otters and the Florida Bobcats.
Call 954-473-2955 or visit www.flamingogardens.org for more information.
Bonnet House, 900 N. Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale
Bonnet House (named for the bonnet lily that grows in the slough) was designed by American artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and began construction in 1920. Bonnet House remains much as it was in the 1930s and 1940s, when Frederic and his wife Evelyn created the unique blend of art and whimsy that delights us today.
Must Sees: Bonnet House hosts an annual series of outdoor music concerts, an Orchid, Garden & Gourmet Food Festival, provides exhibition opportunities for artists, and displays examples of the artwork of Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett.
954-703-2614 or visit www.bonnethouse.org for more information.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road Coral Gables, in Coral Gables
Fairchild includes 83 acres and 11 lakes. The garden bills itself as one of the world's preeminent botanic gardens and is an international leader in tropical plant conservation. They have an extensive collection of rare tropical plants.
Must Sees: Their rainforest is a spectacular exhibit which blends native Florida species with true rainforest species. The 2-acre exhibit includes an aerial irrigation system to enhance rainfall and humidity, so visitors will have an opportunity to experience the plants and environment of the world's dwindling rainforest ecosystems.
Visit FairchildGarden.com for more information.
The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, 4013 S. Douglas Road in Coconut Grove
The National Tropical Botanical Garden includes five gardens all located in Hawaii except for the Kampong, which is located on Biscayne Bay. The garden contains a fascinating array of tropical fruit cultivars and flowering trees. The Kampong serves as the mainland campus for the NTBG's educational courses.
Must Sees: Their heritage collections from Southeast Asia, Central and South Americas, the Caribbean, and other tropical locales create a cornucopia of exotic fruit, including candle fruit, peanut butter fruit, egg fruit, cocoplums, and more than 50 varieties of mango.
Call 305-442-7169 or visit Ntbg.org for more information.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 3251 S. Miami Avenue, Miami
This Italian Renaissance-style villa contains antique furnishings and art dating from the 15th through the 19th century. The home is surrounded by more than 10 acres of formal gardens and fountains. The gardens are spectacular and unusual for their architectural features, fountains, and sculptural elements.
Must Sees: Check out their Secret Garden, which is a walled space with a raised terrace that provides views the gardens and Biscayne Bay and the Garden Mound, a large architectural feature capped with large live oaks.
Call 305-250-9133 or visit Vizcayamuseum.com for more information.
Montgomery Botanical Center, 11901 Old Cutler Road, Miami
Montgomery Botanical Center is a not-for-profit botanic garden established in 1959. The Botanical Center keeps living specimens from wild plant populations worldwide. They emphasize palms and cycads. MBC has a scientific focus and its mission is to advance science, education, conservation, and horticultural knowledge of tropical plants.
Must Sees: Montgomery Botanical Center’s collections of palms and cycads are world renowned. MBC houses the largest Microcycas calocoma in the U.S. They also has a robust collection of Syagrus, a sister group to the coconut, and many other rare cycads.
Call 305-667-3800 or visit MontgomeryBotanical.org for more information.
Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail in Miami
Jungle Island, Miami’s premier entertainment destination, combines the beauty of Miami’s tropical landscape with a jungle full of extraordinary animals from around the globe. Today Jungle Island is a contemporary theme park, featuring extremely rare twin orangutans, the world’s largest cat, the liger, and over 300 vibrant birds, including the world’s only trained Cassowary.
Must Sees: Besides the animal life Jungle Island also features unusual flora, from the extraordinary African sausage tree to a collection of rare cycads.
Call 305-400-7000 or visit www.jungleisland.com for more information.
The Audubon House & Tropical Gardens, 205 Whitehead Street, Key West
The Audubon House has many rare plants and hundreds of blooming orchids on 1-acre of land in Key West. They have been voted the most beautiful outdoor location in Key West for many years. The owners of the property have invested more than $100,000 in moonlighting for evening events which make the gardens magical after dark.
Must Sees: Check out their 200-year-old Sego Palm, butterfly garden, herb garden and an 1840-style nursery that provides a historic look at gardening.
Call 305-294-2116 or visit AudubonHouse.com for more information.