Let Nature Challenge You

NOTE: October 25, the Arboretum will close at 1 PM for a special ticketed event.

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.

Share your time and talents
Become an Arboretum volunteer!

Several volunteer opportunities are available now.

Arboretum Rangers

Complete a minimum of one two-hour-long ranger training session and get to know the ranger training guide. Then lead tour groups, typically on weekends and consisting of ten participants or less, through various areas of the arboretum and gardens. All tours occur between 8am and 5pm and you are only asked to lead tours that work with your schedule. A minimum commitment of 2 hours per month is required (more hours are preferred). When tour guides are not required, rangers are asked to spend time at the arboretum answering visitor questions and maintaining a safe and friendly environment. Next training session is scheduled for Saturday, October 11th.

Special Event Volunteers

There are two special events coming up and we need volunteers for both:

  • October 25, 2014 ArborEATum Wine & Food Fest
  • November 8, 2014 The Art of Nature

Help is needed with set up, parking, check-in, greeters, membership and merchandise, break-down and cleanup. Free admission to volunteers working an event.

Workday Volunteers

On the second Saturday of every month (except July & August), workday volunteers help us with projects that include preparation and maintenance of plantings around the Lake Loop as well as trails and amenities throughout the site.

Conservation Corps

Volunteers help with projects to prepare and maintain demonstration habitat areas, control erosion in natural areas, monitor water quality in Lake Ray and control exotic invasive plants. Work days are advertised by email.

For more information and to volunteer for one or more of these opportunities, please contact info@jacksonvillearboretum.org. The Arboretum is an all-volunteer organization and we depend on generous individuals and groups to operate, maintain, and improve it for all to enjoy.

Thank you!

News – October 2014


octoberimage fairy houses


The Arboretum will be celebrating its 6th Anniversary on November 8, 2014. As part of this event, we are inviting the community to join us in creating a large display of fairy and gnome houses (as well as other fairy and gnome accoutrements) in the Palm Island on the south side of the lake.

Fairy and gnome houses are easy and fun to make and participation is open to persons of all ages, as well as groups. So grab your glue gun, some sticks, bark, and packaged sphagnum moss (never living moss!!!), and let your imagination run free — there are no rules other than, in keeping with the event theme, The Art of Nature, coverings should be primarily natural materials. The Palm Island is shady so be sure to include a little color and some embellishments to make your project stand out (and fairies love flowers and shiny buttons and beads). To get some ideas, just “Google” “How to Build Fairy Houses”. There are loads of instructions and photos on the web.

If you plan to provide a project for display, please let us know (via email to info@jacksonvillearboretum.org) so we can plan a large enough area. Most fairy houses are “birdhouse” size; gnome huts are a bit smaller (yogurt cups make great bases for gnome huts).

Set up will be the on the Friday before the event.

You will need to drop your creation off at the Arboretum after 9 am on Friday, November 7th. Please be sure that your identification is on the bottom of your house or hut. After the event on Saturday, you can take your house or hut home, put it in your garden, or use it inside for a table display!

A Brush with Nature
‘Plein Air’ Painting Event

April 16 – 18, 2015


The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is issuing a Call to Artists for artists interested in participating in “A Brush With Nature,” a juried Plein Air Painting Event to be held on April 16-18, 2015 at the Jacksonville Arboretum. This is a fundraising event to benefit the Arboretum and proceeds from all sales will be split 50% with the artist and 50% with the Jacksonville Arboretum. Eligible artists must reside within 250 miles of Jacksonville, Florida. The juror will be Marc R. Hanson, renowned plein air painter and teacher. Among his honors, he has been the featured artist for Plein Air Magazine.

Deadline for submission of Application is November 15, 2014.

For Application and/or further information, please e-mail: ABWNArtists@gmail.com


In partnership with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation and Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, the Jacksonville Arboretum will once again offer its Step Out in Nature program. This is a fun and fitness competition for Jacksonville area public schools that encourages students to compete for most steps walked at the Arboretum between September 2014 and March 2015. All of the Arboretum’s trails are measured in the number of steps it takes the average adult or child to complete them. In addition to fitness training, walkers will enjoy the wonders of traversing the 13 ecosystems that make up the Arboretum. Students can register to compete and track progress at www.stepoutinnature.org. The system will automatically calculate the number of 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 programs until March:

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

Since this is a competition, prizes will be awarded to the top 3 Duval County Public Elementary schools, the top 25 children from elementary school and recognition will be provided to all children who participate.

It is our hope that the competition will introduce children and their families to the fun and value of exercising outdoors together. Along the way, they will also learn about the natural world that surrounds us. Nourishing an appreciation for the outdoors at an early age is essential to fostering a healthy lifestyle and a lifelong respect for our environment.


Our rainy September means that October will be a great month to checkout mosses at the Arboretum. Mosses are waxy little plants with no leaves and no stem that use each other to stay upright. Their inability to stand is why you never see just one little moss plant; it’s always a group. That grouping also helps them retain water in the area. A waxy covering across their bodies helps keep water from evaporating. You will usually find them in moist areas out of the direct sunlight. Try checking the swales along the Live Oak and Lower Ravine Trails.

The most important feature of mosses is that they have no vascular system. A vascular system in plants is a series of tubes that can transport water and nutrients over a distance. Mosses absorb water mainly through their leaves. Without a vascular system, mosses cannot grow very large. They are rarely taller than one inch high.

Another important characteristic of these little guys is that they require water to allow their haploid reproductive cells to combine. Unlike flowering plants, the dominant stage of mosses is their haploid or gametophyte stage (only one set of chromosomes). The diploid or sporophyte stage is generally no more than a brown stalk growing from the little green plant.

Along the Live Oak Trail and in the ravine you can find carpets of sphagnum moss (Sphagnum sp). This species is known for its ability to absorb 100 times its dry weight in water. Peat moss (partially decomposed sphagnum), mixed with a lightener such as perlite, is used in the horticulture trade as part of practically all soilless media. It is sometimes used to increase soil organic matter but in the extreme southeast it is not recommended because it decays too rapidly. There is also concern among environmentalists about the sustainability of peat harvest even though harvested fields are reseeded with live shredded sphagnum.

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