In 1903, George Turner, Sr., had an idea.
The plumber and garden enthusiast had recently purchased a plot of land with a shallow lake in St. Petersburg, FL. He decided to drain the lake and turn it into his very own sunken garden. By 1935, he started to charge admission, making his Sunken Gardens one of the oldest roadside attractions in the country.
So, let’s jump in the car and take a Sunday drive.
Once entering the garden, a cement path guides visitors around and through lush, jungle-like landscaping. Ultimately, the path winds downward to what was once the bottom of Turner’s shallow lake.
Water continues to play an important role in the life of the garden. Not only does it give a place for water plants to bloom, like the water lily at the top of this post, but it’s also a home for wildlife, like this turtle and flock of flamingoes (pictured below).
When visiting a garden, it’s always a treat to spot something that you have growing in your own garden. That’s the thrill I felt when I spotted this Australian Tree Fern. I have a much, much smaller one growing in my yard — and now I cannot wait for it to reach a fuller size.
Look upward to see bromeliads growing along the branch of a Live Oak.
Much of the gardens are shades of green, which provides a beautiful backdrop for the bursts of color hidden throughout . For the plants I know, I’ve identified the flowers in the captions. For the plants I don’t know, I’m open to suggestions.
Sunken Gardens, one of the hidden treasures of St. Pete, offers both tours and educational programs. It’s currently owned and operated by the City of St. Petersburg, with volunteers helping to maintain it.