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Botanical gardens offer bliss amid hectic season

We are full swing into the holiday season with Thanksgiving behind us.

Hope your turkey-feast day allowed for some time to relax, and you were able to save a little energy for all the December happenings.

Of course, this busy time of year can prove so hectic, maybe you should consider taking a break from your holiday schedule to spend some quiet moments in a botanical garden.

It may be just the stress reliever you need.

Close to home we have the University of South Florida Botanical Garden's living plant collections and displays.

The garden is made up of natural areas that include orchids, begonias, mallows, bromeliads, gingers, ferns, aroids, fruit trees, palms, cycads, carnivorous plants, herb and scent gardens and a butterfly garden.

The gardens maintain more than 3,000 taxa of plants and natural habitats that emphasize the rich botanical diversity of our area. Visitors will also find many animal and insect species, from gopher tortoises to more than 60 species of birds.

Sarasota's Marie Selby Botanical Gardens touts an epiphyte collection reported to be the best in the world. Visitors see horticultural displays and learn from educational programs and take away a better understanding and greater appreciation of the natural world and the challenges it faces.

Another wonderful garden, the Florida Botanical Gardens, contains more than 30 acres of cultivated gardens and 90 acres of natural landscape to explore tropical plants and flowers as well as native plant material. After a stroll through this garden you'll be refreshed and ready to move on to your next holiday event.

The Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando is a botanical oasis demonstrating plant materials suitable for cultivation in Central Florida. Some of the plant materials include palms, cycads and flowering trees. Enjoy azaleas, vines, bromeliads and tropical philodendrons. Familiar annual flowers, roses and camellias are at home here. Stroll under the awe-inspiring branches of camphor trees, elms and oaks.

Wintertime is never bleak in Florida. All the gardens I've mentioned have displays of color to brighten your mood and this time of year put on a holiday face with lights and other decorations.

Each also has a gift shop to pick up that last-minute gift for the gardener on your list and even that can't-live-without item for yourself.

Mary Collister can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

.fast facts

Botanical gardens

USF Botanical Gardens, 2210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m. Closed on major holidays.

Admission: $5; seniors (65+) $4; children (6-13) $3; and students $1 (must present valid ID). Free for USF Botanical Garden members and children under 6.

Florida Botanical Gardens, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo

Hours: Gardens open daily from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Welcome center open Mon.-Fri. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission: Free.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S Palm Ave., Sarasota

Hours: Open every day except Christmas from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission: $17; children (6-11) $6; free for members.

The Harry P. Leu Gardens, 920 N Forest Ave., Orlando

Hours: Daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. except Christmas; last admission allowed at 4 p.m.

Admission: $7; $2 for children in grades K-12; free admission on the first Monday of each month.

Botanical gardens offer bliss amid hectic season

12/02/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:54pm]

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