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

Mosquito Control in the Yard

By Harry Owens

Did you know that the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is home to the world’s most deadly animal? Would you believe me if I told you that same lethal critter can be found in your own backyard? You better believe it, the creature in question is the mosquito. With over 3,000 classified species, these winged pests are responsible for hundreds of thousands of human deaths a year via mosquito born illnesses including malaria, dengue, West Nile, yellow fever, and encephalitis just to name a few. Not only do you have the unwavering, Florida heat to contend with while doing outside chores but potentially dangerous bugs also. There are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and neighbors from these irritating insects but first let’s learn more about this vampiric nuisance.

If you have ever been bitten by a mosquito, it was a female, males do not bite. Technically females do not bite either, they use a specialized mouthpart called a proboscis to penetrate your skin then inject you with saliva that contains an anti-coagulant making it easier to ingest our blood which contains a protein essential to egg development. This action causes a reaction comparative to a concentrated allergic response resulting in the itchy lumps associated with mosquito “bites”. Studies show that they prefer type O blood more than types A and B. Mosquitoes are no lightweights when it comes to bloodsucking and can drink up to three times their body weight. Females can lay up to 200 eggs at a time but need water to do so. Their lifespan is less than 2 months and their diet includes plant nectar surprisingly. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and octenol which is found in our breath and sweat, and they can also detect the humidity surrounding our bodies.

If you cannot work outside without breathing and sweating, no worries, there are other options to help cut back on the number of these vexing vermin. You can get rid of potential skeeter nurseries by looking around your yard and dumping any collected stagnant water weekly; regularly changing bird baths and pets’ water bowls, dumping saucers under potted plants, and doing regular maintenance on your pool if you have one. Also make sure your pots are draining well and not pooling. Keep your grass and shrubs cut because they become excellent hiding spots and breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Avoid going outside at dusk and beyond when they are most active. There are lots of different types of insect repellents on the market some containing DEET, with others utilize more natural ingredients. “Bug sprays” don’t kill mosquitoes, they only disorient them, protecting you in the process. The natural repellents are cocktails of oils found in plants like lavender, rosemary, lemon grass, marigolds, garlic, basil, scented geraniums, and wax myrtle. Merely planting these does not magically get rid of the problem, you must crush the leaves and rub them on your skin for them to work. It is probably easier to just buy some plant-based repellent. Loose-fitting, long sleeves can also help prevent bites.

Keeping your grass trimmed, dumping all collected pools of water, and using insect repellent are good ways to cut down on the mosquito population on your property. Implementing any of these tips should help to dishearten the ravenous swarms and make your yard a more enjoyable space. I hope you learned something you might not have known about mosquitoes because knowing is half the battle.


Savanna Blooms

Gardens at Trout River Plaza

Asian Bamboo Garden

Future Gardens

Garden Tours


Rivers of Color Garden