Immediately upon entering Sunken Gardens in the beautiful and alluring St. Petersburg, Florida, I was overtaken by the wonderfully enchanting smell of over 50,000 plants, flowers, shrubs and trees! I felt as if I walked right smack-dab in the middle of a fragrant tsunami! And I did actually.
But if it wasn’t for this sign, I would have never known that the place was even here. It’s amazing that four-acres of lush vegetation, containing over 500 different varieties of tropical plants, trees and shrubs can be hidden so inconspicuously on the side of a very popular roadway in the heart of a bustling city.
But it is!
A turn of the first corner and I feel as if I’ve been transported back to a time when vegetation was king and ruled the earth undisputedly, think Jurassic Park, but without the dinosaurs and mountains.
The land that contains Sunken Gardens today, believe it or not, was originally a shallow lake that sat ten feet below sea level back in 1935. A plumber and avid gardener by the name of George Turner Sr purchased the land containing the lake and promptly drained it. And over the next twenty years, Turner consistently planted papayas, citrus fruits, palm trees and other exotic plants to expand his beloved “Sunken Gardens.”
In 1998 Sunken Gardens was designated a local historical landmark, and the following year, the City of St. Petersburgh purchased it. After years of restoration, visitors can once again enjoy the beauty that George Turner Sr started here nearly one hundred years earlier. Today the gardens is operated mostly by volunteers.
Another turn of a corner and I’m greeted by the relaxing sounds of trickling water from this small, quaint waterfall.
The late morning light spills through the canopy above, populating the path before me with freckles of sunshine.
I pass a cactus garden on the left, then up a little ways on the right, I notice the “Japanese Garden,” which looks in need of a little TLC to be honest. I have to say, the vegetation throughout the park is well cared for and nicely trimmed, however there are a few eyesores – like a partially falling down wall that looks to be rotting, a couple worn-out looking benches, and an amphitheater that could use a coat of paint.
Besides the lush vegetation, I would have to say the “Koi Fish Pond” was probably my favorite area of the park. The picture below doesn’t begin to show you just how large these guys were, they were huge!
There are a few small ‘attractions’ inside the park to check out, including: “The Growing Stone,” which is a fossilized limestone rock shaped somewhat like a bench that legend says will grant ‘he who sits upon the ancient stone tranquility, inner harmony and the talent to make things grow.’ There’s also a “Wishing Well,” a “Photo Ring,” a “Wedding Lawn,” for weddings, an “Amphitheater,” and a “Meditation Patio.”
Enjoy the sights of Sunken Gardens
How about enjoying a comfortable seat while getting lost in a good book
Apart from a few pesky mosquitoes and a couple minor maintenance issues, Sunken Gardens is an affordable and enjoyable place to go relax and read a book, or take a yoga class, or to just admire the beauty of all the wonderful plants and trees.
So if you’re in the St. Petersburg area and want to forget the rush of the ‘real-world’ for an hour or two, visit the Sunken Gardens – St. Pete’s version of the Garden of Eden.
Have you ever visited a botanical gardens themed park before? If so, which ones and where were they located?