Take a stroll through paradise and you will find the Gardens, in all its botanical splendor, to be the perfect place to escape from the stress and strain of everyday life. We know so many of you come to the Gardens with your children to watch them frolic at our Splash N’ Play or at the petting zoo. During our fall and winter season we have our share of patrons who come for a variety of live performances, a visit to our art gallery, or to attend a festival or a birthday party.
But we know there are those among you who visit Pinecrest Gardens because it is simply a lush and lovely paradise. You visit us for our unique blend of exotic and native tropical plants. You are memorized by our sinuous rock formations and our winding water features.
The Gardens boasts the only natural tropical rainforest in North America, a collection of old-growth tropical trees, aerial plantings of orchids, bromeliads and ferns and a riverine area abounding with magnificent exotic koi fish. As you travel down the lower garden path on a hot summer’s day you will find there is a noticeable temperature drop as you descend into the shaded forest. Remnants of the original Snapper Creek are framed by a landscape of Karst and Pinnacle rock formations, oolitic limestone, small caves, fissures and dramatic cliff overhangs. We even have a solution hole (formed by erosion of the stone caused by surface and subterranean water flow) that is purported to be 30,000 years old.
The Gardens features acres of Cypress Slough with 20’ Bald Cypress proudly standing alongside an area of Cypress Knees and an undergrowth of Ferns.
As you continue your walk through the lower garden, a rock ridge shelf marks a transition between the Cypress Slough and a Hammock of hardwood trees. The tropical Hardwood Hammock features 100 year Oak trees cloaked in Spanish Moss, Strangler Figs and a variety of Ferns, Bromeliads and stunning clusters of Orchids tied in trees.
On the subject of trees you will find our iconic Banyan tree planted in 1947. Today, this signature Banyan Tree located at the center of the property bordering the Meadow, spans over 3/4 of an acre.
Enter the Talipot forest and you will see a maze of Travelers Palms, Heliconias and Fishtail Palms, and come across our mighty Talipot. This magnificent specimen, the largest known on American soil, has now flowered and is in the last year of its life (don’t fret…we have two more Talipot adolescents hoping to achieve the size, stature and greatness of their older sibling).
In addition to the trees listed above, the site features over 1,000 varieties of rare exotic and native tropical plants. Other notable trees include a 100-year-old Cocoplum, a champion Pond Apple and a venerable Sausage Tree. Pinecrest Gardens is also home to one of the most diverse desert gardens in Florida and features many plants imported from Mexico.
Our natural waterways are home to freshwater crustaceans including shrimp, lobster and crayfish. A number of fish species are seen in this waterway including black pacu, freshwater tarpon, snapper, peacock bass, river catfish and an assortment of freshwater game fish and various species of turtles. There are peacocks, swans and other waterfowl. Sunning itself on the bank of Swan Lake you might see an occasional iguana or a statuesque heron.
So those of you who might have visited our extraordinary venue only to attend a concert, a gallery opening or a trip to the petting zoo, you will find the combination of forested areas, riverine landscapes, theme gardens, desert gardens and open vistas make Pinecrest Gardens a unique visitor experience for every age and interest. Yes indeed, the next time you visit…take a relaxing break, and take a stroll through paradise.
For information visit www.pinecrestgardens.org.