Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Tour of Naples Botanical Garden

Driving up to the Naples Botanical Garden in the seaside town of Naples, Florida, you can't help but notice the bromeliads. They are everywhere in shocking oranges, yellows, reds and greens, scattered among the snow-white stone mulch. Even on a cloudy, surprisingly chilly day in February, the contemporary design cheered the mood of our small group.

Opened in November 2009, the Naples Botanical Garden has 170 acres with various gardens, including The Florida Garden and The Asian Garden (not yet completed). The botanical garden also features an 90-acre nature sanctuary with seven different ecosystems -- not to mention, giant pines, twisted mangroves and unspoiled marshes that are home to eagles, otters and gopher tortoises.

On my visit, I had the chance to tour the three completed gardens, including the charming Children's Garden.

The Vicky C. and David Byron Smith Children's Garden is an interactive world with butterflies, flowers, edibles and play spaces. Front and center is the two-story tree house, complete with climbing platforms and rope bridges. Robinson Crusoe would feel right at home here, and your kids (of all ages) would no doubt feel the same way.

An amazing banana tree (Musa 'Saba') flanks the entrance of this children's hideaway. Look closely and you'll see this plant has a number of bananas almost ready to pick. The huge purple flower offers enough wow-power to make this tree worth growing, even if you don't like the fruit.

Talk about the ultimate playhouse. This kid's sized cracker house garden invites you to meander among the fragrant flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Off in the corner, a Hidden Garden inspires the imagination of children.

Flowers, vegetables and herbs sprout from strange places, such as these handbags of all shapes.

The imaginative displays are located at kids' eye levels, which encourages them to smell and touch the plants.

Even young boys might be surprised where flowers and vegetables can turn up.

The message of the Children's Garden is loud and clear: Please Touch! Colored chalk invites kids to play, imagine and draw their impressions on the sidewalk of the garden.

Butterflies are the main attraction of the Pfeffer-Beach Butterfly House, where a variety of brightly colored species can be seen fluttering around the flowering plants.

Travel further down the path to the Brazilian Garden, and you'll see a celebration of the South American country's rich diversity of flora.

The bold, dynamic garden is a tribute to Roberto Burle Marx, known internationally as the "father of modern landscape architecture." Already a popular spot for weddings, the Brazilian Garden was designed by Raymond Jungles, who was a fan and friend of the world-renowned landscape architect for many years.

The Kapnick Carribean Garden is further down the path with landscapes that reflect the Caribbean Islands. can happen, when one is in the Caribbean, the skies opened up and poured rain down upon us.

So, after taking shelter in this cute Caribbean house, we reluctantly headed back home. But we can't wait to return, especially to tour the highly anticipated Asian Garden and Florida Garden still under development.

As for the garden's spectacular bromeliads, well let's just say I'm a big fan now. In fact, I'll never look at these semi-tropical and tropical plants the same way again.


  1. VERY cool! I love all of the bromeliads, too. In the Naples shopping areas, they had lots of those, and I kept snapping pics with my phone.

    NOW I totally wish I had made it to the garden on my last trip. Love the plants growing in purses. I love purses and plants. Fun/funny idea. THank you for sharing your trip with us!

  2. Thanks, Katie. Sounds like we were in Naples right around the same time. Definitely make a point to visit the garden when you return.

    Believe it or not, I shot these pics with my phone too. I forgot my camera! Not bad for an iPhone, right? ;) Teresa

  3. What a great looking garden! I haven't been to Florida yet, but someday...

  4. Hi Kim and Victoria: Thanks for stopping by. Personally, I prefer Florida in the winter and spring. Good time for the botanical garden too. All best, Teresa

  5. Beautiful! The cracker house garden is delightful - it's such a great thing to engage kids with gardening. I would so very much love to visit someday to see such a wildly different climate from mine.

  6. Thanks Stevie! The entire Children's Garden is imaginative and fun, especially the cute little cracker house. If you do go visit, try for the cooler months. Meanwhile, appreciate your comments (and tweets). All best, Teresa

  7. 90 acres? Holy Cow- what a gorgeous botanical garden! I could spend a week there...and I love the children's garden (the basketball hoop makes me nervous,'s just calling out for trouble - one spontaneous game by some adolescent boys and it's all over for that part of the garden!!)...

  8. Hi Rebecca: The garden is actually much larger. In fact, the nature preserve is 90 acres. You could be right about the basketball hoop, ;) ... but overall the Children's Garden had lots of fun places for kids to explore nature. You should definitely check out the garden when you are in the Naples area. Thanks for stopping by! Teresa

  9. What a fun place! So much for kids to enjoy and bromeliads for us. Thanks for sharing these. Wonder how the nature preserve looks..

  10. Thanks for stopping by... the Naples Botanical Garden really does want kids to enjoy their experiences here. Can't wait to see the Asian Garden, when it's finished. Teresa