Heathcote Botanical Gardens, Fort Pierce

4.5
#5 of 23 in Parks in Fort Pierce
Garden · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
172 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • A lovely garden. Lots of shady spots with seating. The whirlpool made us say "I want one". Well worth a visit.  more »
  • I visited this place early on a sunny and hot Thursday afternoon in June, and I only saw a few other visitors while I was there. (I bet it's packed during the winter months.) It's a nice place to...  more »
  • What a fun and pretty spot to visit! You can easily explore the entire garden in an hour, but you don't have to rush! The bonsai garden is super interesting. Each one has a placard describing it's....  more »
Google
  • Pretty nice botanical gardens, I went for the winter lights night event and was not let down. LOTS of lights, but I wish I had gone during the day to actually see the plants. It's not huge, but definitely a neat place to go
  • Lovely gardens with lots of Bonsais. You can tell a lot of love has gone into it. A good sampling of vegetation and some cute art pieces to boot.
  • Sweet garden very close to streets and a highway but you feel like you are in a secret garden. Beautiful environment. Several times a year there are weekend plant sales which include much education. Wonderful bonsai garden-very large and one of a kind. Lovely night time Christmas light display. Must see all of this, including gift shop. Nice.
  • This place is absolutely gorgeous. I love taking pictures, the decorations are beautifulšŸ˜Š Its definitely my favorite place to visit as of now and its very cheap to enter
  • This is a highly recommended hidden gem for, Ft Pierce, FL. I used to live within miles, also commute from Savanah Rd (road Heathcote is on), or N&S US HWY 1...truly finds the Garden hidden, yet NOT HARD TO FIND. I have Volunteered here before, and I got to experience the gardens on a more intimate level. It is amazing behind the scenes and knowing the staffing, and others whom volunteer, have such wonderful passion and pleasure in the hard work they do. The gardens themselves are amazingly beautiful and, sorry to say, make my hometowns Port St Lucie Gardens look too "new". That is to say that Heathcote is so established in the way of age. This lends their edge over most botanical gardens near the area. They've got some REALLY aged and simply astonishing trees, plants, etc. Both exotic and natural, from orchid greenhouse to plenty of different species of plants and trees to keep your eyes open and cameras clicking. Highly recommended by me, a 40 something native to the area!

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