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 – July 2014

wedding.opt.sizedCopyright Florence Belle Photography

Site Rentals at the Arboretum

Envision your wedding, family reunion, team-building retreat or other special event in the beautiful natural settings of the Jacksonville Arboretum.  Starting today, the Arboretum is offering six unique locations for rental to third parties.  Over the past few years, we have had numerous requests for wedding ceremonies and receptions, vow renewal ceremonies, engagement parties, bridal showers, family reunions and team-building events, so now we are able to accommodate such special occasions.  We expect site rentals to become a good source of sustainable earned income, which is vital to our organization since we receive no funding through City or State budgets.  Please consider the Arboretum for your next special celebration and help us spread the word by telling your family and friends.

For guidelines, location descriptions, rental charges and other details, please visit our Site Rentals page.  You can also download a reservation application and a brochure.

New Photography Policy

A new policy for professional photographers has been implemented, requiring a reservation and small fee for one-time or occasional photography sessions or an annual permit for unlimited sessions throughout the year.   For the purposes of this policy, a professional photographer is defined as someone who is being paid to take photographs on the Arboretum property.

We welcome and encourage visitors to take personal photographs and videos of their visit to the Arboretum and to share them on our Facebook page or Instagram, tagging “jaxarboretum” on photos you take at the site. Photography classes, clubs and groups are also welcome to take photographs at no charge but are asked to notify the Arboretum prior the scheduled meeting date and time to be sure there are no conflicts with other events that may limit such activities. Photographs and videos taken for personal use or by classes, clubs and groups may not be used for commercial purposes. Please visit Site Rentals for more information.

Automatic Gate

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Arboretum and we need your help. We now have automatic gates but we still need gatekeepers. We need gate openers to check that the gates really did open and then drive through the parking lot and do a quick 5 minute task like stock the brochures, or empty one bag of trash into the dumpster, or wipe the mold off a trail head sign. Gate closers should check that the “in” gate closed automatically at 5 p.m. and then manually close the “out” gate once all the visitors have departed.

Please contact Head Gatekeeper Melanie Palmrose at almostancientpots@yahoo.com.

Discovering Nature Nearby

Geocaching with a Smart Phone, the last program in our series, will be held on Saturday, July 19 from 9:00 a.m. – noon. This fun and informative session will be presented by experienced local geocachers, who will give a short overview of geocaching, then show the group how to look for geocaches nearby, including a really cool EarthCache. Everyone will meet back at the posted coordinates at 11:30 a.m. to share experiences and wrap up by noon.

This program, made possible by a grant from TD Foundation, is suitable for adults and families with children. Those under 18 must be accompanied by and under the supervision of an adult at all times.

Spatterdock Project

You’ve perhaps noticed the annual cycle of the “water lilies” in Lake Ray? These plants are actually called spatterdock. By late March, 70% of Lake Ray is covered in spatterdock, then a small beetle arrives to consume the emergent leaves until by late May, there is hardly a green dot left in sight. Over the summer the spatterdock slowly grows back and then goes dormant over the winter. The next year the same thing happens. Spatterdock is a native plant but overpopulation causes several problems. Foremost, the decaying plant parts and beetle bits fill in the lake, a process called eutrophication. Second large amounts of plant matter disrupt the dissolved oxygen cycle in the lake. Lastly, lots of plants mean visitors can’t see the critters through the leaves, and volunteers can’t paddle across the lake in order to gather the bimonthly water samples.

Spatterdock leaves grow up from tubers anchored in the lake bottom. Tubers are 2-3 inches in diameter and often well over 10 feet in length . Lakewatch, a volunteer water quality program run by University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS), recommends that managers not allow leaf coverage to exceed 70% of the water surface. Several years ago, they suggested that we drain about 1/3 of the water from the lake or hand dig the plants that would be exposed if we did drain about a third of the water. Since we can’t drain the lake, we are hand-digging. We did a test dig two years ago and another larger removal project in late June 2014. Six brave volunteers despite an alligator sighting removed about 150 cu ft of tubers from the west end of the lake. By removing these plants and their roots, we strive for a healthier lake by slowing the spread and growth of the plants, and reducing amount of plant material decomposing in the lake.
To help with the next spatterdock removal project, please contact us at info@jacksonvillearboretum.org.

Monarch Butterfly

Ever since researchers noticed a huge decline in the monarch population in 2013, this butterfly species has been in the news. It appears that herbicide damage to milkweed in crop fields is the culprit. Monarch caterpillars eat nothing except milkweed, which for years has been a plentiful weed in agricultural fields. Now that farmers can spray round-up to kill weeds without damaging their crops, the monarch caterpillars have much less food available.

You can attract monarchs to your yard by including milkweed in your home landscape and definitely in your butterfly garden.

The Arboretum will be giving away a free milkweed plant to each new individual member who joins at the September 6 member/volunteer event or at the September 13 volunteer workday. Stay tuned!!!

Summer Safety Tips

June has arrived with it’s long days and high temps. Remember the following safety tips and keep this summer one of good memories.

  • Beat the heat – This time of year, the best time to visit the arboretum is 8am-noon. Peak heat hours are 2-4 pm and it cools only a couple of degrees by dark.
  • Stay hydrated – Carry water. If you are active outdoors, you should drink fluids every 20 minutes.
  • Protect yourself against bug bites – Avoid ticks and disease carrying insects by using appropriate repellents and, as always, stay on the trails.
  • Wear sunscreen – The arboretum is generally quite shady but it is a good idea to be cautious and wear a low to medium SPF screen.


Be Sociable, Share!