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

Valentine's Day Flowers and Their Meanings
By Harry Owens, Horticulture Technician II

In 2016, the National Retail Federation discovered that American consumers spent an average of $150 each on Valentine’s Day and $42 of that went towards flowers. Spending a whopping total of $19.7 billion in total, $1.9 billion was spent on flowers alone. 198 million roses were grown specifically for Valentine’s Day. Have you ever wondered how this multi-billion-dollar tradition began or why we give flowers to loved ones at all? In the 1700s, King Charles II traveled to Persia where he was introduced to the Language of Flowers, an expressionist art form that focuses on communicating without saying a single word but instead giving flowers. The idea of flowers having meaning was not a new idea but King Charles II fell in love with it and the fad quickly spread throughout Europe, spiking in Victorian England and again in the United States during the 19th century.

Red roses are synonymous with love and Valentine’s Day. They are also the flower that 51% of people get for their significant other. Different colored roses can help you express different feelings to your Valentine. For example, red signifies romance and pink displays your admiration. Yellow tells them how happy they make you and orange represents excitement and is usually given in new relationships. Not only does the color matter but the number of roses given can also be of significance. A single rose is a sign of devotion or a thank you. Two roses foretell an intended marriage proposal, and one red and one white mean unity. Eleven roses assures the recipient that they are truly loved and also tells them that they are the final rose of the dozen. Thirteen roses are usually given by a secret admirer.

Roses are one of the most expensive flowers in February because they usually bloom in the spring or fall. Luckily, they are not your only option. There are plenty of other less expensive plants that are just as useful in conveying your feelings. Carnations’ ruffled, playful look make them the second most popular V-Day flower and express fascination. Tulips’ simple appearance make them easily recognizable and symbolize a perfect love. Red tulips are a declaration of love for someone. Alstroemeria, also known as The Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas, are a sign of devotion and have multi-colored, feathery petals with multiple blooms per stem. All of the options come in a variety of colors and are very long-lasting cut flowers.

So go ahead and start thinking about what type, color, and number of flowers you want to get your one and only this Valentine’s Day. All of the aforementioned are just suggestions, there are plenty of other plants that can express the way you feel. Start studying now and become fluent in the language of flowers to ensure that you do not send the wrong message to your sweetie this February 14th, Cupid’s birthday.

Savanna Blooms

Gardens at Trout River Plaza

Asian Bamboo Garden

Future Gardens

Garden Tours


Rivers of Color Garden