Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum
Bushnell, FL - Events of Friday, March 20, 2015
Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum is located only a few blocks away from Sunken Gardens. The arboretum is a specialty park operated by the city of St. Petersburg, and it includes hundreds of palm trees from around the world. Since Paul loves, loves, LOVES palm trees, we headed to the arboretum when we were finished strolling around Sunken Gardens. Admission to the arboretum is free.
The two-acre arboretum was once a city park featuring a miniature golf course. When the golf course was closed due to escalating costs, the city converted the park to a palm arboretum in 1976. The arboretum was made possible by a generous gift from Ms. Gizella Kopsick for whom the arboretum is named.
The palm arboretum is located on the St. Petersburg waterfront along Tampa Bay just up the road from the city pier and marina. In the photo below, which shows the nice beach area adjacent to the arboretum, the city pier can be seen in the distance jutting out into the water to the left. There is plenty of free parking at the arboretum, although it could be a little hard to find a spot on a sunny weekend because of the beach.
The arboretum is a work in progress. They started out in 1976 with 60 specimens representing 10 varieties of palms. New specimens are being added all the time, and today there are over 500 palm trees and cycads representing over 150 different varieties from around the world. Cycads are palm-like plants that date back to prehistoric times. The arboretum has palm trees of every shape and size.
As we started up the path past the cycads, we still had a nice view of Tampa Bay.
We could catch glimpses of the bay from many locations in the arboretum.
Brick walkways wind their way through the arboretum, and a wide lawn runs down the middle. Presumably, at least some of the lawn will eventually be used for future plantings.
We saw many varieties of palm trees we have never seen before. The photo below shows a couple of bottle palms that Paul found particularly attractive. Bottle palms, which grow to a height of only 10 to 12 feet, are native to the Mascerene Islands located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. Bottle palm are almost extinct in the wild, but they are grown by nurseries and are available as landscape plants. They are quite expensive and cannot withstand frost, otherwise Paul would be looking for a place to plant one on our site at Blueberry Hill.
Another variety that was interesting was the Cuban petticoat palm. As the name suggests, it is native to Cuba. The dead fronds don't drop off as they do with many palms, and they droop down to form a dense petticoat along the trunk. The Cuban petticoat palm reaches a mature height of up to 30 feet, but the small size of this specimen makes it look very rotund.
With our tours of Sunken Gardens and the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum complete, we headed back toward I-375 and across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge toward I-75. When we got to I-75, instead of heading north toward Bushnell, we took a detour one exit to the south to Anna Maria Oyster Bar where we had our last fried clam strip baskets until next fall. They were yummy as usual!
From Anna Maria Oyster Bar, we headed back to Blueberry Hill for an evening and weekend of relaxation.