This large and beautiful garden is the younger of two fine botanical gardens in Pinellas County.
Opened in 2000, Florida Botanical Gardens is a 182 acre (74 hectare) attraction located in Largo. It’s one of the newest public botanical gardens in the state. It provides an interesting contrast with Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg. This young garden is beautiful and fascinating even though it’s been around only a fraction of the time than the far-more mature Sunken Gardens.
The Florida Botanical Gardens is managed for Pinellas County by the county’s Parks and Conservation Resources Department. PCR is dedicated to the preservation of Pinellas County’s parkland, air quality and history. The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service – a part of the US Department of Agriculture – began to plan for an outdoor learning center in the 1990s. They were able to partner with Pinellas County, which provided financial assistance and land.
The Florida Botanical Gardens began on a modest 10 acre (4 hectare) site occupied by the Pinellas County Extension Service. McKay Creek, which runs through the property, was restored to a more natural state to allow for better drainage of the area and to provide varied ecosystems from wet to dry. Construction took about three years and created many different areas including numerous water features, a palm garden, cactus and succulent area, butterfly garden, the McKay Creek Plaza – a mosaic tile patio area and the Tropical Fruit Garden – an area dedicated to Florida’s agriculturally significant trees, including avocados, mangoes, figs, papayas, pineapple, citrus, pomegranate and banana.
The gardens are beautiful and beginning to mature. It’s a great place to explore and best of all it might be the only large public garden in the state with free admission. That means it one of the best places to bring a picnic lunch!