Let Nature Challenge You


Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens

1445 Millcoe Road, Jacksonville, FL 32225

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 – November 2014


Devine by Design - Lad and Mindy Hawkins Photo by Donvovan  Geoghegan

Devine by Design – Lad and Mindy Hawkins Photo by Donvovan Geoghegan

The Art of Nature
6th Anniversary Celebration

November 8    9 AM – 5 PM

Enjoy an autumn day at the Arboretum as we celebrate our sixth anniversary with a full day of fun and educational activities for the entire family. The event will showcase the “art” of nature with 40 artists working solo and in groups to create unique sculptures along the Lake Loop and adjacent trails. Also featured will be the largest display of fairy and gnome houses in Jacksonville!

Educational demonstrations on a variety of nature – related topics will be given by the Museum of Science & History (MOSH), Gopher Tortoise Council, North Florida Woodcarvers Group, FSCJ Printmaking, the Sierra Club, Duval County Extension Service, the Jacksonville Zoo, UNF Sculpture Guild and Lesley Royce/Merlin the Barred Owl. Chainsaw artist James Gandy will be giving demos and the Jacksonville Public Library will offer storytelling throughout the day. Merchandise such as glass art, handmade soaps & lotions, bee products, jewelry, olives, artwork and other nature-inspired products will also be available. There will also be live music by Old Time Jam and Al Poindexter & River Rise, food trucks, an ice cream truck, children’s art & craft activities, and nature walks through this beautiful and picturesque property. Last, but not least, there will be a tribute to our military in recognition of Veteran’s Day on November 11.

Admission is $5.00 (cash preferred and no discounts), children under 12 are free and our celebration is open to the entire Jacksonville community. Please note – NO DOGS DURING THE EVENT. So come and enjoy a family day and admire “THE ART OF NATURE’ at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens.


The Arboretum is introducing an Adopt-a-Species program, offering an affordable option for those who want to support the Arboretum. As a starting point, two species found within the Arboretum were selected from wildlife, shrubs and trees. More species may be added as the program matures. The species available for adoption include:

Wildlife: Gopher Tortoise, Barred Owl
Shrubs: Native Rosemary, Devil’s Walking Stick
Trees: Live Oak, Loblolly Bay

For an adoption fee of $30 per species per year and the adopter receives a certificate and Fun Facts with a color photo of the subject. Our hope is that those who adopt will want to learn more about nature and come out to see their species live at the Arboretum.

With the holidays fast approaching, Adopt-a-Species may be just the gift to introduce a child to the wonders of nature or for the nature lover who seems to have everything. Each adoption helps us maintain and preserve the property for species habitat.

We will also have a display at the Art of Nature anniversary event on November 8 with examples.

An Active & Educational Gift Idea

Do you know a family you want to coax off the couch and out into nature? Perhaps your co-workers would welcome a group hike rather than another stuffy office party or you would like to donate something unique to that fund-raising auction you are attending. Whatever the reason, consider purchasing a Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens tour as a unique solution to those gift purchasing conundrums. For as little as $25 you can provide a guided nature experience right in the heart of Jacksonville. For more information email info@jacksonvillearboretum.org

ArborEATum a Big Winner!

Our inaugural wine and food fest, the ArborEATum on October 25 was a big success. Approximately 250 people came out and enjoyed a perfect autumn evening sampling tasty dishes offered by a dozen restaurants and caterers, over 75 domestic and imported wines, custom craft beers and specialty coffees and desserts. Musicians from the North Florida Bluegrass Association entertained the crowds and the Jacksonville Jaguars Jaxson De Ville made a special appearance riding in on his Segway. As a fundraiser for the Arboretum, the event brought in over $11,000, with proceeds to support our mission of cultivating a unique environment for recreation, education and inspiration. With all the positive feedback, we hope to make this an annual signature event!


Step Out in Nature is a fun and fitness competition for the Jacksonville area public elementary schools that encourages students to compete against each other to see which students and schools can complete the most steps on the Arboretum’s trails between September 2014 and March 2015. Students can register to compete and keep track of the trails they walk at www.stepoutinnature.org; the system will automatically calculate the number the steps taken based on the trails walked. While the competition is limited to public elementary schools, the program is open to any child or adult who wants to participate and take the challenge of seeing how many steps they can take towards fitness, just register as an individual on the program’s website.

As part of the program, the Arboretum is offering the following activities until March:

• Outdoor Adventure Kids Bootcamp: Every 1st and 3rd Saturday at 9:30 AM (An outdoor, low-impact, fitness program for elementary aged kids, all levels welcome).
• A Walk In The Woods: Every 2nd and 4th Saturday at 8 AM (Fitness Walk, brisk hike, all ages are welcome)
• Nature Walk with a Naturalist/Biologist: Every 2nd and 4th Saturday at 9:30 AM (The second Saturday walk will feature family friendly activities and the 4th is aimed for adults and/or older children).

The Step Out in Nature program will be offering two activities:

• Tracking program with AyoLane Halusky on Saturday November 15 at 10:00 AM

AyoLane is the founder of Earth Kinship, LLC. He is a St. Johns County naturalist and Florida native who had been teaching wilderness skills and native technology for over 20 years.

As part of the program we will be walking the beautiful trails of the Arboretum and learning how to read the landscape to discover who calls the arboretum home. Tracking is the first written language telling the story of the environment. Come out and learn to read nature’s newspaper!

• Owl encounter with Lesley Royce on Sunday December 7 at 2:00 PM

Don’t you just LOVE owls? Some of us have heard owls hooting at night, but most of us have never seen one in the wild. This presentation gives you an opportunity to see a barred owl up close.

Merlin the barred owl once lived in the wild. But because of an accident, he is now disabled and lives with Lesley Royce, retired City of Jacksonville naturalist. During this Owl Encounter, you will hear about how Merlin came to live with Ms. Lesley, and some of his experiences in captivity.

Barred owls are one of five species of owls that call Florida “home.” Ms. Lesley will talk about these different owls, how to identify owl species by their calls, and what makes owls different from other birds. Bring your camera for photo opportunities following the program.
owl with handler

Site Rentals at the Arboretum

Fall is one of the loveliest times of year at the Arboretum. Days are generally sunny and cool – perfect weather for a company team-building retreat, a family reunion, a wedding or other special occasions! The Arboretum now offers site rentals at six locations, so if you wish to celebrate your special event in a nature setting, consider the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens. More information and a reservation form can be found at our Site Rentals page.

Ranger Training

The first session of a newly structured Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens (JAG) Ranger training program was held on October 11th. During this primary level Ranger training, Program Manager Melinda Simmons and Master Naturalist Doug Ganyo discussed JAG history and species. Additionally, participants were taught techniques for successful environmental interpretation and how to lead a beginning level tour including parts of the Lake Loop Trail, Jones Creek Trail, and Ravine Trails. Rangers who have completed this primary training are signing up to lead paying tour groups and many plan to attend future training sessions, which will incorporate additional trails and species into their repertoire. For information on how to become a volunteer JAG Ranger or request a tour, please send an email to info@jacksonvillearboretum.org


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