Florida Guide > Places to Visit
Kanapaha Botanic Gardens – West Side
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is situated just to the west of Gainesville a few miles from the intersection of the I75 and US24. After travelling west on SW Archer Road for two miles take a right into SW58th Drive to reach the gardens parking lot.
Kanapaha Botanic Gardens are relatively new and were opened to the public as recently as 1987. They cover nearly sixty-two acres around the shoreline of Lake Kanapaha and comprise fourteen major horticultural collections of plants and trees which include Florida’s largest public display of bamboo and just about the largest herb garden in the south east United States. Their signature collection of giant water lilies is an amazing sight to behold during the warm summer months.
All the plant collections are easily accessible along two miles of meandering paved walkways and trails liberally interspersed with seating and other rest areas.
This article is intended to give a brief flavour of what the visitor is likely to experience along the western fringes of the gardens.
To the west of the picnic area the Azalea-Camellia Garden is predominately planted with species originating in the Far East and includes the popular camellia japonica from Japan. These evergreen shrubs flower during the winter but hybrids of azalea and rhododendron provide some colour during the early spring.
Set amongst rocks and small pools the Rose Garden is just a short stroll up the trail. There are usually roses in bloom throughout the year but the displays are at their peak in early spring and early autumn.
Next stop along the trail is the Butterfly Garden which, is in a slightly elevated position and overlooks the Water Gardens. Most plants in this collection produce flowers that are attractive to butterflies and mostly consist of flowering perennials. Information boards help to identify the plants and the more common butterflies that are attracted to them.
The Kanapaha Water Gardens were developed in the mid nineties and showcase a variety of aquatic vegetation including giant water platters, the world’s largest water lily emanating from the Amazon Rain Forest. This is a wildlife haven for all types of insect and it has been known for the odd alligator to appear.
During the spring the Crinum Garden is in full bloom. Crinums, although not as well known, are part of the Amaryllis family and produce fantastic flowers just as impressive as their better known relation.
The trail leads around to almost complete a circle but not before a final stop at the Arboretum which is home to many rare species of trees and shrubs not normally seen in this part of Florida.
Time now to take a break and enjoy a picnic before heading off to see what else the gardens have to offer.
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