Bushnell, FL - Events of Friday, March 20, 2015
Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL is another one of those places Paul visited when he was a kid on vacation in Florida with his parents in the 1950s. We also made a stop there back in December, 2008.
Late last year, Groupon had coupons for half price admission to Sunken Gardens. Admission to Sunken Gardens isn't that expensive to begin with ($8 for regular admission and $6 for seniors); but we wanted to go back to see the gardens in the spring, so we took advantage of the Groupon offer. Last Friday, we drove to Sarasota to use our coupon.
Sunken Gardens was started in 1903 by plumber and avid gardener George Turner, Sr. The gardens got their name from the fact they are built in a 10 to 15 foot deep sink hole. George planted quite a few citrus trees, papayas, and other exotic plants around his home. In the 1920s he opened a nursery and began selling fruits, vegetables, and plants. His nursery customers paid a nickel to tour the gardens. In 1935, George fenced the garden and began a charging 25-cent admission fee. In the 1950s through the 1970s, Sunken Gardens became a popular tourist attraction and was once ranked among Florida's top 10 attractions. Sunken Gardens was purchased by the city of St. Petersburg in 1999.
The gardens only cover 4 acres, but they have squeezed a lot into the relatively small space. There are over 50,000 plants at Sunken Gardens representing over 500 varieties of tropical and sub-tropical plants. The pathways wind through the garden, and the lush plant growth hides the fact that you may only be a few feet from another path passing by in a different direction. The photo below shows Paul on one of the garden paths with some of the dense foliage in the background.
The bright colors of some of the lush foliage also add to the interest in the garden.
When we visited Sunken Gardens in 2008, it was December and there were only a few flowers blooming. At that time of year most of the garden color was provided by the foliage and by displays of poinsettias for the holidays. The main reason we wanted to go back in this spring was to see some of the tropical plants in bloom. We weren't disappointed. The next photo shows another path with bright pink bougainvillea blooming overhead...
...and the next photo shows just a few of the many tropical flowers that were in bloom.
Among the colorful foliage plants and blooming tropicals were a couple of interesting plant specimens, one of which is shown below. Thanks to Sunken Gardens who responded to our initial blog post, we were able to find out the tree with the fascinating flower/seedheads in the next photo is a fishtail palm.
The fishtail palm gets its name from fact the leaves on the fronds are split and look like fishtails.
Towering over the lush undergrowth are many mature palm trees.
The next photo shows a nice example of a foxtail palm - one of Paul's favorites.
There are several water features at Sunken Gardens. There are two ponds with large koi.
There are also several small waterfalls that provide the pleasant sound of trickling water.
There are a couple of Chilean flamingos, a pair of kookaburras and some parrots and macaws at Sunken Gardens. Everything was quiet when we were there this time, but macaws were squawking loudly last time we were there adding to the jungle-like atmosphere.
We finished off our tour of Sunken Gardens with a tourist photo. We took a photo of Paul here during our last visit. This time was Margery's turn.
From Sunken Gardens, we headed to another attraction located only a few blocks away. We'll tell you about it in our next post.