Enjoy a Botanical Paradise in the Middle of St Petersburg

Enjoy a Botanical Paradise in the Middle of St Petersburg

These days the words “inner city” usually conjures up images of decay and desolation, but in St Petersburg the inner city is graced with a tropical paradise. It is the Sunken Gardens, the city’s oldest museum and the home of the oldest tropical plants in the region. The Sunken Gardens is not only a nice place to stroll and enjoy the plants, it offers guided garden tours, horticultural workshops, special events, field trips and has become the venue for corporate and private events. Weddings are even held there.

The Sunken Gardens started out in 1903 when a St. Petersburg plumber, George Turner, purchased six acres and drained a lake using clay tiles. He then turned the rich soil into a garden that soon attracted neighbors and other visitors. Seeing this as an opportunity to make some extra cash he started charging five cents for admission. His family kept the operation going for three generations, improving the gardens and inviting visitors. Finally, in 1999 the City of St. Petersburg purchased the gardens and developed it as a prime cultural and educational center.

The site has a trail that covers one mile and it is full of tropical and sub-tropical plants. Almost all the plants have markers indicating the botanical name, the common name and their country of origin. In case you were wondering about the name, the gardens drop 15 feet below street level and hence it is called Sunken Gardens.

If you want more than a casual stroll through the gardens, then check out the calendar of horticultural workshops. You can learn how to grow orchids and roses in Florida, the basics of bonsai, pruning and propagating plants, and much more. Local residents can also take advantage of the volunteer opportunities at the Gardens. Become a “Garden Assistant” and help maintain the grounds or you can lead visitors on guided tours or work during the special events and workshops at the Sunken Gardens.

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The Sunken Gardens is also a choice spot for corporate and private events in St. Petersburg. The Museum’s Garden Room, a 2600 square foot room that can seat 175 people and its smaller Classroom are suitable for all kinds of events. Private parties, seminars, luncheons and retreats are just some of the events that have been held here. The Museum’s central location amidst shopping, hotels, restaurants and other downtown facilities makes it a convenient location for special events.

If you ever dreamed of getting married in a fairy tale location, the Wedding Lawn of the Sunken Gardens is the kind of place that you are looking for. You can get married on the lawn or under a canopy of shade trees in the Oak Pavilion and then hold your reception in the Garden Room.

The normal opening hours of the Sunken Gardens are Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays noon to 4:30 p.m. Admission is as follows: Adults $8, Seniors (55+) $6, Children (2-11) $4. There is free parking on the site and the whole area is handicapped accessible. Sunken Gardens is located at 1825 Fourth Street North, St. Petersburg. For more information call 727-551-3102.

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