I took a time out last week and visited the Peace River botanical & sculpture Gardens right here in Punta Gorda, Florida. I am so excited that we have such an amazing spot in our own backyard! I will give you the low down on my thoughts, but first let me tell you some facts.
The Gardens are located at 5827 Riverside Drive, Punta Gorda, FL 33982 and are open 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Tuesday – Sunday. The Gardens are part of a three phase plan. Phases one and two include approximately 11 acres, it will be 27 acres when fully developed. This will include 10 acres of waterways, wetlands and marshland and 17 acres of gardens.
When you arrive, signs will direct you to the parking area where you will find a ticket station. The attendant was very friendly and helpful, she explained what was located near the parking area and where to go to find the main garden area. There was plenty to see on this side of the street so don’t skip it. Take the time to walk down the crushed shell path to a variety of hydrangeas and other plants. Enjoy the stroll down the sidewalk taking time to look at other vegetation, say hi to Andy Wohrhall, and note the beautiful art pieces on the way. You will notice a large area of dirt, I was told that will likely be the sight of a new restaurant in the coming years.
Once you cross the street, follow the path and take time to enjoy the raised bed Sensory Garden which is labeled as follows: C – culinary uses, T – ok to touch, S – ok to smell, L – just look, M – medicinal. Continue on and you will be greeted by two large sculptures of a man and a woman seemingly welcoming you to the Gardens. Ahead of you is a gorgeous pool housing two more sculptures. There are two boardwalks. One ends at a gate leading to a private residence, that will one day be a part of the Gardens as a museum. The second boardwalk leads to a gazebo with bench seating overlooking the Peace River. I sat there for quite a while enjoying the scenery and solitude. I visited the visitors center and koi bond last. A few things to note: there are bathrooms in the center for those wondering, they do offer snacks – however they are limited. I inquired if they allowed bagged lunches and they encouraged it, just no collars on wheels. The visitors center is a good place to end your tour, sit and have a refreshment while watching the koi swim in the pond. It was amazing how clear the colors of the fish were. All of the sculptures and plants are easily identifiable by sings and grounds are meticulously maintained.
It took about 45 minutes to tour everything and take time to sit and relax in the gazebo and the patio by the pond. What I loved, besides the obvious beauty of it all, was that most of the walking paths were paved concrete or pavers making it a good place for baby strollers or wheelchairs. There were only two paths with crushed white shells that may be tough to navigate. What could have been done better was the first boardwalk, which will eventually lead to the museum. It was disappointing to walk all the way down, just to be greeted by an alarmed gate. At the time, I didn’t know the house would one day be a part of the Gardens, so it was off putting and there is nothing else to really see down that boardwalk besides the mangroves on either side.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I will definitely be back and will recommend it to family, friends, and visitors. I look forward to the day all phases are complete.