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Trip Planner:   USA  /  Florida  /  Fort Pierce  /  Heathcote Botanical Gardens

Heathcote Botanical Gardens, Fort Pierce

4.5
#5 of 23 in Parks in Fort Pierce
Garden · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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Heathcote Botanical Gardens is a five-acre subtropical botanical garden located at 210 Savannah Road, Fort Pierce, Florida, United States.

Heathcote is a non-profit, 501 (C)3 educational foundation that bills itself as the "Green Heart of the Treasure Coast." It began in 1960 as the commercial nursery of landscape architect Molly Crimmons and her husband, Jim. Heathcote Botanical Gardens was established in 1986 when the site was purchased by local citizens with contributions from the City of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, the State of Florida and Friends of Heathathcote Botanical Gardens.
It currently includes a Japanese garden with teahouse, Reflection Garden, Herb Garden, Rainforest Display, Native Plants Garden, Children's Garden, and a Palm and Cycad Walk.

Other garden plants include: bamboo, a banyan tree, bromeliads, Clerodendrums, Clusia rosea, Coccoloba uvifera, Codiaeum sp., crotons, Encephalartos gratus, orchids, Pandanus utilis, Petrea volubilis, philodendrons, pineapple, Podocarpus gracilior, Tillandsias, and Zamia pumila.

The Garden of Lights is a major fundraiser that sees the entire garden decorated with tens of thousands of tiny Christmas lights. It draws more than 10,000 people each year during weekend evenings leading up to Christmas.
The Adams/Peterson Pioneer house is a replica of an 1870 "Cracker"- style home that shows what it was like to live in Old Florida.
Heathcote is most well known for being the home of the James J. Smith Bonsai Collection, the largest public collection of tropical bonsai in the country. The collection has more bonsai on year-round display than any other public exhibit in the United States. Although there are 26 species represented in the collection, almost half the trees are species of ficus. The more than 100 specimen bonsai range from a huge buttonwood, estimated to be 200 years old, to a magnificent, twin-trunk Jaboticaba, originally styled by John Naka in 1973.

James J. Smith was an internationally recognized authority on bonsai who operated a wholesale bonsai nursery in Vero Beach, FL. He learned from some of the most famous bonsai masters in the world including John Naka and Toshio Saburomaru. For decades, Smith conducted a free monthly workshop at his Durastone Nursery on Old Dixie Highway. He was mentor to several generations of Florida bonsai artists. His bonsai are in numerous important collections around the world, and numerous books picture his trees and discuss his work.

When he was in his 80s, he agreed to give most of his private collection to Heathcote if it could develop a suitable display area. Heathcote conducted a major fundraising campaign and developed a plan for a 10,000-square-foot garden complete with stone stands and a Japanese-influenced pavilion that is a favorite scene for weddings and garden parties.
Smith died in 2016.
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Heathcote Botanical Gardens reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
175 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • A surprise spot that I enjoyed my visit. I was so happy that we came back another two times over the next few weeks. It is one of the best spots I. Tge srea yo fiend a day 
    A surprise spot that I enjoyed my visit. I was so happy that we came back another two times over the next few weeks. It is one of the best spots I. Tge srea yo fiend a day  more »
  • What a beautiful place to visit. There’s an awesome bonsai garden. Rainbow geckos galore…fun to watch! Nice to enjoy some quiet time sitting on one of their many benches. 
    What a beautiful place to visit. There’s an awesome bonsai garden. Rainbow geckos galore…fun to watch! Nice to enjoy some quiet time sitting on one of their many benches.  more »
  • This is a beautiful, though small, botanical garden with an amazing bonsai collection. Perfect for about an hour's break on a busy day. No children were around while I was there, but I could... 
    This is a beautiful, though small, botanical garden with an amazing bonsai collection. Perfect for about an hour's break on a busy day. No children were around while I was there, but I could...  more »
Google
  • We went to a botanical garden in Miami earlier this week, and that one was much better. However, this one was indeed lovely. The bonsai exhibit and the reflection garden are worth the visit. We also particularly enjoyed the butterfly garden. For young children or those inclined to whimsy, the enchanted forest is delightful. My wife also loved playing on the xylophone, and of course she wants you to know this, gentle reader.
  • What a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon! So much care has gone into the design and layout of the different exhibits at this botanical garden. They have an impressive bonsai garden, and helpful staff happy to provide thoughtful insight about the special displays. Children (and the young at heart) will be enamored by the fairytale-like candy house, the mosaic bear chair, and the mosaic hopscotch. They are dog-friendly too!
  • We were very happy to find this tucked away spot. We were greeted by Susan who was very friendly. The female cat led us through the whole gardens practically. Next time I'll start at the Japanese garden first. There bonsai collection is stunning. Veterans free. We got off the path and meet two botanist trying to save the world's citrus blight, naturally. We learned so much about lady bugs/beetles and the different kinds which are a lot. My favorite is the mold eating black and white lady bug. My only request would be to relabel the plants. Many are sun bleached white and blank. Download a leaf identifier app. Some cool plants here
  • Absolutely love this garden! It is quaint and manageable to enjoy in a short amount of time, but also invites you to linger as it has plenty of places to sit and enjoy the birds, butterflies, squirrels, and of course all the wonderful plants. The gift shop has unique items for garden lovers, and they sell plants too! The children’s area includes a lovely fairy garden and lots of hands on fun for curious little ones. The bonsai collection is beautifully displayed and inspired me to start a bonsai plant of my own. Can’t say enough about this wonderful little gem!
  • I went with my family to the Garden of Lights this year and absolutely loved it. Fun for the whole family. My nephew had a blast looking for the animals on our seek and find throughout the garden, Santa 🤶 🎅, lots of great picture 📸 spots; they even had a wood maker making each kid a top. I definitely recommend.

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