At first thought, this has to be the most unlikely spot for a botanical garden:
1. its main entrance is on Military Trail, a traffic-clogged multi-lane commercial strip featuring an array of downscale roadside businesses, and;
2. it is directly across from the huge Palm Beach International Airport – a hyper-active place on whose parallel runways a mix of airliners and business jets constantly land and take-off.
But once inside Mounts Botanical Gardens’s entrance gate, the ugliness of suburbia disappears (although the aircraft definitely make their arrivals/departures known), and the visitor is transported into a relaxing world of winding pathways amidst lush greenery. This is Palm Beach County’s largest public garden, and it features some 2,000 different tropical and sub-tropical plants and trees. The hard-working staff has not only gone to great lengths to label these beautiful specimens but has also created a free cell- (mobile) phone tour.
Even though it is private, Mounts is affiliated both with the Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension (it is, in fact, named in honor of Marvin “Red” Mounts, a four-decade Cooperative Extension agent) and the University of Florida. Originally a quarter of its current size, the site was first a horse pasture and then, in the early 1950s, a place to learn the cultivation of tropical fruit trees with the goal of encouraging County residents (this was when Palm Beach County was still semi-rural and not the over-developed hodge-podge of gated retirement communities that it is today) to plant them for food.
Usually a quiet (except for those airplanes) place, Mounts can sometimes be very busy, especially during one of its special events, such as its Tropical Fruit Festival, featuring tropical fruit tastings and other activities. There are many other events listed in the Events Calendar, available at www.Mounts.org.
At 14 acres (5.7 hectares) Mounts Botanical Garden provides ample room for roaming its paths, visiting its various gardens, and/or just sitting and quietly enjoying nature. It is a beautiful spot, and one of Palm Beach County’s hidden treasures.
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