What began with citrus and tropical fruits, quickly grew into a flowering oasis. People clamored to tour their lush greenery and thus, a roadside attraction was born.
In a nod to an extirpated, Florida species, Chilean flamingoes were welcomed to the garden in 1956. A koi pond, turtle exhibit, and parrot aviary were later added.
To preserve this bit of history, the city of St. Petersburg bought the property from the family in 1999 for roughly $2.26 million. In 2016, 20 additional flamingoes were purchased from the San Antonio Zoo to supplement the declining, original flock.
Currently, the plant collection surpasses 50,000 specimens from over 500 different species. Though my visit began with hot and muggy weather, a passing rain shower cooled the gardens off nicely (and had the added benefit of thinning the crowd).
What a wonderful way to spend part of the day!