Best botanical, Japanese gardens in Palm Beach County


Get your moments of Zen by visiting these 5 serene spots

There’s more to Palm Beach County than beaches.

Part of our sub-tropical heritage is a climate in which almost anything grows. From orchids so voluptuous that staring seems an intrusion to the fierce oranges and reds of June’s blooming royal poincianas to the dark shade beneath giant banyan trees, plant life here is glorious, unique and sometimes, wonderfully odd.

Get a taste of South Florida’s uniqueness with a visit to our local public gardens.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Why you should go:

These six serene gardens spread over 16 acres are an oasis of calm amid the clamour of urban South Florida. Visitors can spend a day or a few hours steeping in Japanese culture at the museum, then stroll the peaceful gardens. The Morikami is a lasting legacy of the Yamato Colony, an early 20th century settlement of Japanese farmers in Boca Raton. While most settlers returned to Japan, George Morikami stayed, eventually donating this land to Palm Beach County for a park. The well-regarded Cornell Café serves sushi as well as more standard fare; find tea sets, tea, cotton kimonos and other Japanese decorative items at the gift shop.

Morikami: 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach; 561-495-0233. Open Tuesday - Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission $15.


Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County

Why you should go:

Eighteen individual gardens expand over 14 slightly-rolling acres, showcasing the exotic lushness of the semi-tropics. Begun in the 1950s to teach locals about tropical fruit, the garden today still maintains a trial plot for new plants. An extensive collection of mature palms, flowering trees and tropical fruit trees anchor luxuriant curving beds brimming with nearly everything that grows in this part of South Florida. The garden has frequent plant sales, hosts a master gardener program and holds regular classes, workshops and lectures for the area’s legions of plant people. The gift shop sells decorative items and the area’s best selection of gardening books.

Mounts Botanical: 531 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach; 561-233-1757; suggested donation $5. Open 7 days, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Four Arts Botanical Garden

 

Why you should go:

Begun in 1938 as demonstration gardens to show local residents the rich diversity of tropical plants, this oasis near the center of Palm Beach has been maintained ever since by the Garden Club of Palm Beach. After hurricanes Frances and Jeanne ripped across the island of Palm Beach, the gardens were reconstructed with added plantings and enlarged seating areas but with plenty of spots designed for savoring a few moments of relaxed, quiet contemplation.

The Four Arts: 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach; 561-655-7227. Open 7 days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free.


Pan’s Garden

Why you should go: 

After browsing the luxury goods on nearby Worth Avenue, a visit to Pan’s Garden can be a refreshing reminder of more eternal verities such as the beauty of nature. This pocket park, established only in 1994 by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach next door, contains more than 300 mostly native plants, many of them endangered, as well as a significant remnant of Palm Beach history. A tile wall from the 1918 ocean-to-lake Casa Apava estate was rescued and forms one of the garden’s boundaries.

Pan's Garden: 386 Hibiscus Ave., Palm Beach; 561-832-0731 Open weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends November - May; free.


Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens

Why you should go: 

A treat for art lovers and garden fans alike, this walled spot on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach is a bit mysterious. Ann Norton was a sculptor and widow of Ralph Norton, who founded the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. After his death in 1951, Ann spent 15 years building the nine monumental brick and granite sculptures dispersed through her garden; one fills the former swimming pool. One of Florida’s largest public collections of rare palms and cycads alternately hide and reveal the mammoth sculptures during a walk on the garden’s curving paths. Filled also with native plants, this garden, on the National Register of Historic Places, is kept in a natural, semi-wild state.

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens: 2051 S. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach; 561-832-5328. Open Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The historic home — designed by Maurice Fatio and later, Marion Sims Wyeth — and artist studio are also open. Admission: Adults $15; 65 and over $10; children ages 5 and up $7


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