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Everything's blooming at local botanical gardens
Things are always blooming in South Florida, but now the weather is pleasant enough to appreciate nature's colorful creations. At these gardens, you can stop and smell the roses (or other types of flora and fauna).
Flamingo Gardens, Davie Once a huge orange grove, Flamingo Gardens is now a lush tropical paradise filled with many native plants, as well as fruit-bearing trees. Take the tram tour to learn about the Lipstick Tree, the coffee plant, banana trees and rows of citrus trees. Then spend some time exploring the shaded pathways and arboretum.
Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Miami Founded by David Fairchild, a pioneering botanist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this expansive, 83-acre site in South Dade boasts extensive collections of rare tropical plants including palms, cycads, flowering trees and vines. The gardens put a strong emphasis on plants that are in danger of extinction, and they have samples of over 100 species that are on the verge of disappearing forever. Meander around pretty lakes, stopping to see the rock gardens, cycad circle, bamboo collection and more.
Fruit and Spice Park, Homestead Located in the midst of one of South Florida's major agricultural areas, the Fruit and Spice Park is a showcase for various agricultural products including 500 species of fruit, herbs, spices and nuts. The park is divided into geographic regions: tropical America, tropical Asia, tropical Africa, tropical Australia, the Pacific and the Mediterranean.
Mounts Botanical Garden, West Palm Beach Palm Beach County's oldest and largest public garden, Mounts has more than 14 acres of tropical and subtropical plants. Walk around a large lake and look at the exotic trees, native Florida plants, herb garden, tropical fruit collection, rain-forest area and more.
Morikami Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach -- Don't rush through an experience at this beautiful garden in Delray Beach. You want to be able to walk slowly around the serene lake, taking in the smells of the pine trees, the sound of the rustling bamboo and the changing views of the Japanese house on the side of the lake. The gardens are mostly green, but can be quite vibrant when the azaleas or other flowers are in bloom.
International Orchid Center, Delray Beach -- Located on the same property as the Morikami Japanese Gardens, the International Orchid Center is the ultimate destination for orchid enthusiasts. Inside, there's an extensive museum and gift shop, and outside, you can walk through 3.5-acres of gardens with over 600 species of ornamental plants and exotic orchids.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami -- Unlike most gardens in South Florida, Vizcaya's impeccably manicured grounds are meant to evoke the classical gardens of Italy and France. These highly stylized gardens feature topiaries, low-cut hedges, fountains, pools and walls. There are a few local touches, however, like the use of Florida jasmine in place of traditional boxwood hedges and oaks instead of the plain trees used in Italian gardens.
OUTSIDE SOUTH FLORIDA
Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales Walking onto the grounds of Bok Tower Gardens in central Florida feels like you're walking into a fairy tale. Thick green grass is laid out like a carpet leading to a magnificent stone tower that peeks out above the trees. And all around the hilly park are bright pink azaleas, ferns, tall oaks and other flowering plants. Stand in front of the reflecting pool and listen to the chimes from the carillon, and you will understand what makes Bok Tower such a sublime, beautiful place.
McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach Arthur G. McKee and Waldo E. Sexton purchased an 80-acre tract of land along the Indian River in 1929. They began augmenting the native vegetation with ornamental plants from around the world and began assembling one of the most outstanding collections of water lilies and orchids in the world. Today's garden with its pretty stone bridge arching over a lily pond is a testament to their passion for plants.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Orchids are the divas at this breathtaking garden near Sarasota. Begin your tour inside the greenhouse to see the brilliant, enchanting orchids on display. Then go outside to see the heartier collections of cycads, palm trees, banyan trees, hibiscus, cactus and more.