Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden Concept Plan: Setting a New Standard


For decades, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has given Jacksonville and Northeast Florida residents a place to love animals. Now our mission is to offer our community a public place to love plants, while setting a new standard for zoos in the process. We are in the process of building a first-of-its-kind botanical garden inside our Zoo that, unlike other zoos, is integrated among the animal exhibits. Unlike most other growing and culturally-rich cities, Jacksonville cannot list a botanical garden as one of its cultural treasures.

Beyond filling an educational need, botanical gardens benefit their communities in many ways. They become tourist attractions, benefit the green industry, serve as an employer and pump millions of construction dollars into the regional economy. Over the past 400 years, botanical gardens evolved from a menagerie of medicinal plants to entering the 21st century with a strong focus on the concept of environmental sustainability. While some zoos have enhanced the natural habitat of their animal collection, none to our knowledge have committed to the idea of combining a zoo and botanical garden. This combination will only serve to strengthen each institution’s ability to foster a clear vision of sustainable conservation of our natural resources. With the help of a nationally-renowned botanical garden design firm, the Zoo developed three major garden zones in its Botanical Garden Concept Plan:

The Main Path, known as the River of Color: Visitors will begin their garden journey in the Main Camp Garden greeted with a celebratory display of striking foliage and flowering plants. They will be drawn toward the River of Color by drifts of colorful bloom swirling through ribbons of contrasting foliage and textures in the distance. Throughout the Zoo, the River of Color will be a linear garden that links garden destinations and animal exhibits.

Themed Pocket Gardens: Distinct and unique garden jewels of horticultural display that immerse the visitor in through plant themed forecourts to the animal exhibits that follow. Each garden is about 2 acres in size. Currently our Pocket Gardens include the African-Savanna Blooms Garden, South American-Range of the Jaguar Garden, the native gardens of Wild Florida and Play Park, the formal Gardens of Trout River, and the Asian Garden.

The Primary Gardens: In Jacksonville, visitors to the Zoo have recognized the unique relationship the Zoo shares with the Trout River. The beautiful native water-edge plants and spectacular panoramic views over the River set this area aside as something quite special. Recognizing this potential, we selected this area as the home for the Primary

Gardens which will cover approximately twelve acres and include Collection Gardens and the Conservatory.

Garden Tours

Gardener's Corner

Heat Safety while Landscaping
By Harry Owens
If you have any doubts that summer has arrived then step outside and get slapped in the face by the humid, muggy hand of Mother Nature. June 21 marks the official first day of summer but any Floridian worth their weight in beach sand knows that it is almost torturously hot here from about April into October. With such high temperatures, it may be hard to convince yourself to go outside at all, let alone go outside and do physical labor. With rains every other afternoon, your lawns are not slowing down and must be tended. So here are some tips for staying cool and things to look for when working in extreme heat.
When working outside in the summer or anytime really, you should always be on the look out for signs of heat exhaustion. There are two types of heat exhaustion; water depletion and salt depletion. Water depletion signs include excessive thirst, weakness, fatigue, and loss of consciousness, while salt depletion indicators include nausea, vomiting, cramps, and dizziness. No matter what type you experience, you should take immediate action because heat exhaustion can quickly escalate to heat stroke which can cause brain and organ damage and even death. If you experience any of these symptoms get out of the heat fast and rest, if you do not have access to air conditioning find a shaded area. Drink plenty of fluids avoiding caffeine and alcohol, remove any constricting or unnecessary clothing, you can also take a cool shower or bath. If your symptoms persist after 15 minutes seek medical help.
There are a few tips to beat the scorching, Florida sun. One is to do the more labor intensive outdoor chores at dusk or dawn, avoiding the sun while it is at its hottest. Another way is to pre-hydrate, if you know you will be doing yard work on sweltering day, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids in the day or two leading up to it. Be sure to stay hydrated while doing the job, have plenty of water on hand and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, by then it is too late. Depending on the heat index and duration of the task, a single twenty-ounce Gatorade might not be enough. Take regular shade breaks if working in the direct sun. You can wear a wide brimmed hat or one of those nifty cooling towels around your neck to help provide a little shade.
So, whether you are just doing regular lawn maintenance, a major planting, or dreaded hurricane clean-up; when it is warm outside make sure you know all the signs of heat exhaustion and are looking for them in yourself and others. Some signs may be more easily recognized by someone else, you may not realize your skin is flush or speech is slurred. Pay special attention to anyone on the higher or lower end of the age spectrum that might be lending a hand. Kids and the elderly are especially susceptible to heat exhaustion. Temperatures in the 90s with a 100% heat index can be brutal but if you use the lessons learned in this article you will survive.

Savanna Blooms

Gardens at Trout River Plaza

Asian Bamboo Garden

Future Gardens

Garden Tours


Rivers of Color Garden