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