Today we highlight a wonderful botanical garden in the heart of St. Petersburg, FL. Recently we went to visit some friends and while there we all decided to check out the Sunken Gardens.
In the historic northeast district of St. Petersburg is where the 100 year old garden is located. It is home to some of the oldest tropical plants in the area.
In 1903 a plumber named Mr. George Turner, Sr. purchased the land just outside of St. Petersburg. At the time St. Petersburg had a population of 1500. However, the property was basically a 4 acre lake and George wanted to get to the fertile soil at the bottom of the lake. So… George decided to drain the lake to get to that soil. Imagine trying to do that today, the public outcry would have been deafening.
Being a plumber George figured out a way to drain the lake and started his below sea level garden by planting a few fruit trees and a small vegetable garden. He continued adding to the garden by building walkways and planting tropical plants. Being sunken below ground level and the humidity levels encapsulated within this little bubble allowed for a tropical jungle to grow.
Eventually, locals started coming by to buy his fruits and vegetables and by 1920 a quarter would get you into the gardens to stroll this unique tropical location. In the 1950s the family added tropical birds to the garden. In 1967, the family bought the property next door (a former supermarket) and opened the “Worlds Largest Gift Shop.”
The family kept the gardens opened until the 1970s as a tourist attraction but soon after closed it and maintained the property as best they could. In 1998, St Petersburg declared the gardens a local historic landmark and saved the property.