Are you a baby boomer gardener? If so, the next time you travel to Florida, take a detour from the beaches to visit Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Located in the north central part of the state near Gainesville, the gardens are home to the world’s largest lily pads, Florida’s largest public display of bamboo and the Southeast’s largest herb garden.
A visitor’s center divides the 1-1/2 miles of garden paths into two distinct areas. On one side, you’ll walk through a forest where a water feature, using reclaimed water, splashes beside the path. Run your hand along the “touch me” wall in the children’s garden (a great outing for you and the grand-kids) or discover one of the resident alligators hiding among the Victoria water lilies that look like giant, green saucers floating on the water.
Continue stretching your legs on an exploration of the garden’s other side. Here, the open terrain introduces visitors to a palm hammock, bamboo stand and a large herb garden where metal stakes describe the uses for each plant. And, throughout the gardens, picturesque bridges and lagoons provide photographic opportunities for baby boomer shutter bugs.
With 62 acres, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens offers plenty of room to walk or jog, the perfect way for boomers to work off calories before heading to lunch at Blue Highway Pizza in Micanopy. Should you try the Blue Highway Salad, a crispy green mixture topped with feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions, olives and toasted pecans? Or, does the Pizza Fungi where portabella, shitake, oyster and fancy white mushrooms swim in a creamy fontina white wine sauce sound more to your liking? Why not try them both? I did.
Have you visited Kanapaha Botanical Gardens near Gainesville? Post a comment to tell me about it. Walking through a peaceful garden can be an adventure too.