Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has given Jacksonville and Northeast Florida residents a place to love animals for decades. Now we also offer our community a public place to love plants, while setting a new standard for zoos in the process. These Garden Exhibits make up a first-of-its-kind botanical garden inside our Zoo that, unlike other zoos, is integrated among the animal exhibits.
As visitors walk down the River of Color, Savanna Blooms is the first Themed Pocket Garden they will encounter. Savanna Blooms was completed in the Spring of 2005 and is nestled beneath the Giraffe Overlook. This unique 2 acre garden, fashioned after a South African oasis, transitions from soft grasslands and fine textured acacia leaves into a bold contemporary garden at its core. Kopje outcrops erupt from the landscape with a serene pool at its foundation that showcases African water lilies and water edge plants. Visitors rest beneath the curved trellis laden with fragrant flowering vines and view the garden’s splendor from an internal vantage point.
This garden space features a partially-walled botanical garden plaza that serves as a gathering and event space and offers a beautiful view of the Trout River. Central to the plaza is a celebratory fountain with a spill bowl topped by a basking Anhinga sculpture. The fountain is surrounded by pebble mosaic paving that features a menagerie of animals of the Trout River. Springing from lush garden beds, thirteen Grecian-style “living” columns topped with overflowing flowering urns giving the garden a classical look. A planted trellis, lush and cool with colorful and fragrant vines, along with a number of large shade trees and themed lights all create a special area that can be enjoyed for private parties after hours.
Photo by cre8jax
Photo by John Reed
Just beyond the Gardens at Trout River Plaza, step into the Riverview Gardens where there is a cool breeze, the shade of big trees, and opportunities to connect with the natural world. Explore the garden pathways full of plants that attract and support pollinators and other wildlife. Sit and enjoy views of the Trout River. You might see some of the animals that call our river home. Make sure to visit often to see this garden change through the seasons and grow into the space for years to come.
Set in a village at the edge of a neotropical rainforest, the Gardens of Range of the Jaguar feature unique exotic tropical plants from around the world. Bold big-leaved plants, palms, ferns, and bromeliads dominate the shaded understory created by Florida native live oak trees and southern magnolias. This garden is filled with perfect spots to sit, meet, and rest in a shaded tropical setting in a sub-tropical climate.
The Asian Bamboo Garden serves as an introduction to our Asian animal exhibits. Rather than create an authentic garden specific to any one country or culture, we have created a garden that we hope will resonate with a diverse range of people and their experience of Asian cultures. Significant features include; the Moon Gate, a traditional Asian gate with a circular entry that symbolizes perfection, the Lotus Pool, featuring rock and water expressing the yin/yang principles of Chinese garden design, and the Weeping Tree Bridge, which denotes a journey, and recalls a rainbow when its elliptical shape is reflected in the water. The Orchid Pavilion, flanked by bamboo, overlooks the Koi Pool and the Yin Yang Terraces. Kids and adults will love the Bamboo Mist Forest, home to our bronze Giant Panda sculptures.
The linear gardens that line the Main Path create beauty and interest along what has become a garden path connecting the geographical loops where our animals are displayed. The gardens create a “river of color” that flows along both sides of the walkway. This colorful theme is carried out using trees, shrubs, and perennials that create color with flowers, foliage, berries and stems. Portions of the garden are changed seasonally to maintain color and interest throughout the year. As we continue to develop the zoo, the river of color will continue to flow along.