You might think a public garden of just one acre would not have much to offer -- but you would be wrong in the case of Hollis Garden. It is divided into garden "rooms", lovingly attended to by 3 Lakeland city employees and funded by a substantial endowment from the late Mark Hollis, who was formerly president of Publix Supermarkets. Each room has a theme -- red plants, white plants, herbs, vegetables, etc. I don't know what is their secret, but I have never seen such large and perfect vegetables. There's an area of trees that have historical significance. Clusters of annuals are changed out at least twice each year and they are constantly trying out new plants. I admit a place like this holds particular interest for me as I work in horticulture, but, in each of three visits, I have never spent less than 3 hours there.
The setting is right by a large lake with a pleasant view and plenty of bench seating if you'd like to contemplate life or simply have a nice lunch break. There is also a small cafe adjacent to the garden, and the reasonably-priced food was good.
I would be happy to pay admission to Hollis -- but being free is the icing on the cake.