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 – January 2015


 Photo Credit: Melinda Simmons

Photo Credit: Melinda Simmons

WildLiFe Report

Out of the Classroom and into Nature

On December 9th, a Florida State College of Jacksonville class toured the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. Eighteen students in Dr. Christopher Perle’s Biology Laboratory course walked portions of the Lake Loop, Jones Creek, Lower Ravine, and Upper Ravine trails, while learning details about the species and environments they encountered. When the group gathered along Jones Creek it was pointed out that three storm water drains empty into the creek before it flows into the St. Johns River. This was a topic of particular interest to the students and they spent several minutes discussing the potential impacts of heavy rains washing lawn fertilizers and street pollution into the creek and river. Despite the chill in the air, these students, with a wide range of backgrounds and majors, appeared to enjoy their hike, the changing colors of the deciduous tree leaves, and their new knowledge.

Red Maple: A Tree For All Seasons

Red maple (Acer rubrum), grows too large for most suburban properties, but it is a beautiful tree at the Arboretum and along Jacksonville’s roadsides. It is one of the most reliable trees for fall color in north Florida. Despite its name, fall leaves may turn yellow, orange, red or nearly purple. Look closely this month and you will see clusters of small red flowers at the branch tips. They are followed soon by bright red winged fruits. Red maple wood is used for furniture, paper pulp and firewood. Historically, the wood was used to make farm implements, baskets and household goods like bowls and spoons. Red maple is tapped for maple syrup. Several uses of red maple by Native Americans have been recorded. They include dyes and medicinal uses. Wildlife makes good use of red maples, too. Deer browse the new growth and a wide variety of animals eat the seeds.

Step Out in Nature

Congratulations to everyone who has Stepped Up for Step Out in Nature!

step out in nature

We are halfway through the competition and half way through our goal of reaching a million steps. We have had great turnout of people for the monthly scheduled nature and fitness walks and the nature programs: Tracking in the Woods and the Meet Merlin Owl Encounter. We have new and exciting things in store for this spring semester; we are changing the scheduled fitness bootcamp on the 1st and 3rd Saturday to include a Fun Family Outdoor Activity! During the Outdoor activity, kids will be learning, playing, and caretaking nature, in nature. We believe that kids thrive and are healthier when they spend time outdoors and that’s what Step Out in Nature is all about.

The competition will continue in the spring until March 16th. Aside from the programming, we encourage everyone to continue walking the trails and recording the trails walked on-line at http://www.stepoutinnature.org/ to compete for great prizes.

As part of the program, the Arboretum is offering the following activities until March 16th:

  • Fun Family Outdoor Activity: Every 1st and 3rd Saturday at 9:30 AM
    For these days we will have a fun outdoor activity and a short hike for elementary aged kids and their families. The activities are fun nature oriented educational activities.
  • 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).

Spring Schedule

January 17th – Predators & Prey Day!
Learn about predator/prey relationships during a hike. Learn how to identify which creatures we spot/hear along the way, are they predators, prey, or both?

Activity: Play “Predator/Prey Tag”, and go for a hike

January 24th – A Walk in the Woods and Nature Walk with a Naturalist/Biologist

February 7th – The Pirates are Coming!
Let’s learn about outdoor skills by learning navigational skills and find cool things hidden in the woods.

Activity: Play “treasure hunt” while hiking around the Arboretums trails

February 14th – A Walk in the Woods and Nature Walk with a Naturalist/Biologist

February 21st – Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes!
Let’s learn about invasive plants and how they affect our ecosystems, we will find local examples including the invasive air potato.

Activity: Play “Hot Potato” and do potato sack races and go for a hike to collect air potatoes and have potato sack races.

February 28th – A Walk in the Woods and Nature Walk with a Naturalist/Biologist

March 7th – Spring Will be Springing!
Go on a wildflower walk and learn about different flowering plants and the insects that thrive in the spring

Activity: TBD

March 14th – A Walk in the Woods and Nature Walk with a Naturalist/Biologist

March/February (Date TBD) – Finale!

Calling all Brides!

This past June, the Arboretum started offering site rentals for third party events. In addition to family reunions, memorial gatherings, and corporate retreats, the Arboretum is a beautiful choice for a nature-themed wedding ceremony and reception. If you are planning a wedding, please consider the Jacksonville Arboretum and its unique natural settings. To learn more, visit www.jacksonvillearboretum.org/site-rentals/

The Arboretum will have a display at the upcoming Bridal Fantasy Event on Sunday, January 11, 2015 at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort. We have 25 free tickets to distribute on a first come basis. If interested, please send a request with name & number of tickets to info@jacksonvillearboretum.org and we will advise you where to pick them up (office in San Marco).

For more information about the show, visit www.JacksonvilleBridalShow.com. Hope to see you there!


As we ring in a new year, let us pause and reflect a moment on the year just past. In 2014, the Jacksonville Arboretum has continued make improvements to the property with additional plantings and signage and the installation of the Reflection Pointe Pavilion. We also introduced a new educational program series, Discovering Nature Nearby and continued the popular Step Out in Nature program. Work was started on several habitat demonstration areas. Our special events, including the inaugural Ar-bor-EAT-um Wine & Food Fest and the family-friendly Art of Nature proved very popular and raised funds for the Arboretum’s operation & maintenance. Several programs to develop sustainable revenue streams were launched including a new membership program with additional benefits, a new Donor program, Site Rentals for third party special events, and Adopt-a-Species, the first in a series of Tribute Giving programs. This is an impressive list of accomplishments, especially since the Arboretum is an all-volunteer organization.

What the typical visitor experiences are the property improvements, tours, educational programs, and special events. But behind the scenes (or the scenery in our case) are many people who make these experiences possible, including our dedicated board members, many of whom handle multiple functions. Besides on-site work, our volunteers help with overall planning, financial & risk management, special projects, information technology, grant writing, fundraising, event planning, membership services, public relations, volunteer resources and more. This is a major undertaking for our small, but growing organization, which can always use more dedicated volunteers. If you have a specific expertise or interest in the areas mentioned above, make a New Year’s resolution to give a few hours a month to the Arboretum. Send an email, with “volunteer” in the subject line, to info@jacksonvillearboretum.org  and describe how you would like to help.

To all of our volunteers, THANK YOU for ALL that you do. You are the heart and soul of the Arboretum and together, we will embrace the New Year with renewed enthusiasm and resolve to move the organization forward.

Bring Oak Leaves

Drop bags off during regular hours near the water fountain, but please do not block the sidewalk.

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