Let Nature Challenge You


Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens

The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 120-acre urban woodland full of trails for you to explore and enjoy. From the trailhead next to the parking lot, a stabilized walkway encircles a beautiful two-acre lake. This trail gently descends about 25 feet from to the foot of the lake and then returns up a gentle slope on the opposite side to the trailhead. Interpretive signs and over 100 labeled plants enhance the loop. In addition, over two miles of rustic hiking trails wind quietly through a series of distinct ecological habitats. Along the trails, benches invite you either to pause and enjoy the view or to get in a good stretch during a vigorous walk. The Arboretum is developed and managed by the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, Inc., a non-profit entity that leases the land from the City. Except for special events, there is no admission fee.

News – September 2014


Marsh fern sori  - Photo courtesy of Edward Price Flickr Creative Commons

Marsh fern sori – Photo courtesy of Edward Price Flickr Creative Commons

Fern Hike

Fall is the perfect time of year to go on a fern hike at the Arboretum. We suggest the Jones Creek and Aralia Trails because they have the highest fern diversity. The very cool thing about ferns this time of year is spores.

Unlike other plants, ferns don’t have seeds, they have spores. Most plants grow straight from seeds. Ferns are very different; they have an intermediate stage, called a gametophyte, between the spore and the plant stage. In the fern life cycle, spores grow into gametophytes which look like green moss on the soil beneath the adult ferns. These gametophytes produce the male and female fern cells which unite and then grow into new fern plants in the summer. The fern plants then produce spores, which then grow into gametophytes and the whole cycle continues year after year.

Ferns are perennials so they also grow back each year from their roots. Actually ferns don’t really have roots either, they have somewhat similar structures called rhizomes. But, we digress; so let’s go back to spores and your fern hike.

This time of year you can see the spores for almost all species of ferns at the Arboretum. Look for plant signs for cinnamon fern and net leaf chain fern. These species “put all their spores in one basket” so to speak. They have a frond with nothing on it but spores. The cinnamon fern is actually named for the color of the spores on its so called “fertile frond”. Also look for signs for maiden fern and marsh fern. These species have spores lined up on the backs of their leaves in little packages called sori. Gently turn the leaf so you can see the back; the sori look like little brown or white dots depending on the species.

Nature at Night

Saturday September 6
6-9 PM

Our popular member and volunteers appreciation event, Nature at Night (formerly the Owl Prowl) is Saturday, September 6 from 6-9 PM. There is still time to sign up – RSVP here! and put Nature at Night in the subject line and let us know name and number in your party. Non-member guests of members and volunteers are asked to donate $5 per adult and $2 per child.

Become a member by joining before the event or on the night of and enjoy this special night, which is one of the most popular benefits of membership. New members who sign up at the Individual Level ($40) or above will receive a free Milkweed or coffee plant. The plants represent some of the types living at the Arboretum. What a great addition to your home garden. Become a member and help support the gardens.

If the event is canceled due to bad weather, we will re-schedule at a later date. Please dress comfortably and bring folding chairs. You may also want to bring bug spray and a flashlight.

Arbor”Eat”um Wine and Food Fest


You won’t want to miss the ArboreEATum, our inaugural Wine & Food Fest to be held lakeside on Saturday, October 25 from 4-7 PM. More restaurants and caterers have signed on, so there will be a great variety of tasty food offering s. Included in the lineup are Biscottis, Bono’s/Pastiche Catering, Coffee Perks, Certified Seafood & Steaks, Dig Foods, Havana Jax-Cuba Libre, Mike’s Pies, Mudville Grille, River City Brewing Company, Salt Life Food Shack, The Grotto, and we expect a few more to join the party. Over 75 wines will be available for tasting, as well as local craft beers, cheeses and desserts. North Florida Bluegrass Association will provide musical entertainment and Jaxson De Ville will make an appearance.

Tickets are just $50 per person or $90 per couple – a great value considering all that’s included and best of all, monies raised from this event go to support the Arboretum and its mission. So plan to join us for this magical evening under the stars and bring your friends!
Go to our events page to purchase tickets.

Call For Artists

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens 6th Anniversary Celebration

The Art of Nature Saturday, November 8, 2014

Application Due by September 15, 2014

Only two weeks left to send in your application and creative ideas for the sculpture exhibit to be featured during the Arboretum’s sixth anniversary celebration. This is a non-juried event and has no theme – but use of natural materials and nature-themed creations are encouraged. Last year’s exhibit was a huge success with the public, so we encourage you to be part of the fun this year.

For a copy of the Call to Artists and Application Form, please e-mail mhgourds@comcast.net.

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