When you think of peace, beauty and intellectual stimulation, you can’t help but think of the Naples Botanical Garden. One of the top Botanical Gardens in the United States is right here in Collier County, and at this time of the year, the garden is particularly spectacular. Why? Because there are thousands of special lights that are illuminating the magnificent garden at night, along with music, fun areas for the children to run around in, beverages along the pathways, specialty food items at the Fogg Café and a gift shop with unique items with reasonable prices that you won’t see anywhere else.
Right now, through January 5th, you can purchase tickets to this very special event only in advance, whether you are a Member or Non-Member, either on-line or in-person at the Chabraja Visitor Center. “Night Lights in the Garden”, now in its 10th Year, is a very popular and well-attended event so getting your tickets early is important if you don’t want to miss this “Night Lights in the Garden” from 6 – 9 PM.
In a flat place like Naples, where did the Botanical Garden’s hills and massive lakes come from that are the stage for the stunning variety of plants from all around the world? The idea came from a local group of plant lovers in 1993 who had a vision of a beautiful garden in Naples that would contain an amazing assortment of plants, flowers and trees. After becoming a 501 C (3) status organization, 170 acres of flat open space was chosen partly for its proximity to Naples and luckily purchased through a donation by the late Harvey Kapnick, Jr. in 2000.
A design team was formed in 2006, and construction of the first section began in 2008 with the excavation of an area for two lakes—Deep Lake and Lake Tupke. The hills were designed and formed from the excavated fill taken from the site of the future lakes, both of which are significant in size, not just lily ponds, although there are also some of those in the garden. Other phases included the opening of many separately themed gardens through the years, each one more beautiful than the next, a visitor center and so much more. The Naples Botanical Garden, rightfully, earned The American Public Gardens Association’s Award for Garden Excellence. In fact, they were the youngest garden in history to receive this prestigious award. When you visit, you’ll agree that this garden is indeed worthy.
If you’re interested in orchids, you’ll see more of them and in their natural colors during the day. This is a special garden area with the sounds of water around you and orchids high and low. The Botanical Garden collection has over 1,600 orchid species and hybrids, not all blooming at once of course. That means making repeat visits to see the new blooms and of course; take photos.
The Garden provides free tours as part of the regular admission during the day, which are also popular. I was a participant on one tour several months after Irma, which devastated the plants and trees, but ironically, the guide explained that some trees and bushes that had NEVER bloomed in the Garden, did bloom after the hurricane’s destruction. Speculation was that maybe the trauma shocked the plants, or it could have been increased salt in the air or? Who knows?
If you love to learn, this is a great spot to learn in, appreciate the variety of specimens that have been gathered and transported from around the world almost into your own backyard. This is another great place to take your visitors. It’s approximately 1-2 hours around the Garden depending on your speed and then there are those who spend all day. Enjoy!
For more information go to their website naplesgarden.org.