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Kanapaha gardens in Gainesville

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Complete Guide | 🌼 What to Do & How to Spend Your Day

Thinking about spending a day at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens? You can easily spend an entire day wandering the paths through the gardens and enjoying all there is to offer. The gardens were first created and established in 1978 and have been the destination for locals, tourists, and traveling business people ever since they opened to the public in 1986. Without proper planning and research, you may miss part of the massive 68 acre slice of bliss, so we wanted to provide something for our customers to refer to, ensuring they get the most out of this Gainesville, Florida attraction. 

Here’s everything you need to know, like whether the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens are free, what events take place, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens membership options, hours of operation, and more.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Overview

 

General Information

  • Address: Summer House, 4700 SW 58th Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608
  • Phone: (352) 372-4981
  • Hours: Monday 9am-5pm, Tuesday 9am-5pm, Wednesday 9am-5pm, Closed Thursday, Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 9am-7pm
  • Entrance fee: $10 Adults, $5 children ages 5-13, Children under 5 are free

The name for the garden comes from the nearby 250-acre Lake Kanapaha. “Kanapaha” originates from two Timucua words for “palmetto leaves” and “house.”  The North Florida Botanical Society is a private non-profit organization that manages Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and will be the managing party for some 50 more years as the gardens were leased to them for 90 years.

What You’ll See at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is composed of fifteen different individual major collections. The collections include the arboretum, the azalea/camellia garden, the bamboo garden, a butterfly garden, the crinum garden, the cycad garden, Fern Cobble, an herb garden, a hummingbird garden, Palm Hammock, a rock garden, the rose garden, a large spring flower garden, a vinery, and the woodland garden. 

History

The North Florida Botanical Society leases the land for a whopping $1 annually, as is the initial agreement. Local community volunteers and landscaping companies saw the gardens as a tourism boon and attraction so they helped with the development from the beginning in 1978. By 1986, ten garden attractions had been finished and a one mile loop of paved walkway ran through them. Additionally, a full irrigation system complete with six separate gazebos for events and relaxing, as well as two boardwalks that overlooked sinkholes had been completed. 

The park has relied on a combination of community service employees and some modestly paid part time help to run the facilities and maintenance. The botanical gardens are a labor of love.

What to Bring When Visiting the Botanical Gardens


Since you’ll be enjoying the great outdoors, you should bring sunscreen, bug spray,  a hat, and a water bottle. You’re also welcome to pack a picnic lunch and blanket to enjoy on the beautiful grounds of the gardens.

Garden Rules and Regulations

The North Florida Botanical Society does impose a set of rules and regulations on the grounds. The set of rules and regulations, which are mostly a standard list duplicated from all Florida public state parks, protect the property, the guests, and the organization from safety and legal hazards.

Familiarize yourself with the following rules so you know what is expected when you visit the gardens.

General Rules

 

  1. Remain on the pathways and grassy turf at all times.
  2. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is dog-friendly Dogs are permitted but must be on a leash at all times.
  3. Proper family attire worn at all times: Tops, bottoms and shoes must be worn at all times.
  4. Radios and musical instruments are prohibited unless special authorization has been granted.
  5. The following are prohibited:
  • bicycles, skateboards, scooters, in-line skates
  • picking any plants, seeds, fruit or vegetables
  • catching any animals including insects
  • feeding, harassing or harming any animals or destroying their nests or shelters
  • climbing on or damaging any of the trees, rocks, works of art or buildings
  • barbecues or other cooking devices
  • jogging on sidewalk
  • swimming, wading and fishing in the fountains, ponds and lakes
  • Littering
  • smoking in children’s area
  • aggressive behavior
  • moving around our labeled plant signs or other items

Photography Guidelines for all Photographers 

  • Please do not enter flowerbeds, plant displays, waterfalls, water or  mulched areas
  • Proper family attire at all times; Tops, bottoms and shoes must be worn at all times.
  • Clothing changes must be done in one of our bathrooms.
  • Do not disturb or remove plants, plant labels, signs or containers.
  • Do not climb trees, rocks or buildings.
  • Do not block entrances, pathways, or public use areas.
  • Must exit gardens by our regular closing hours.
  • Do not litter (confetti, fake flower petals, etc.).
  • The Garden reserves the right to restrict access to certain areas, escort photographers off the property, or permanently revoke access to the  Garden if these conditions are not met.
  • We reserve the right to change these guidelines without notice.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Events

The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens are open six days a week for regular visits and there are numerous events throughout the year that everyone can enjoy. Standard pricing applies. Events are the best way to gain a different perspective than you’d enjoy on a regular day visit. If you can visit during one of the events you’ll have time to enjoy the gardens and the activities surrounding the particular event. 

There is an online calendar on the site’s events page that is updated regularly, but some of the most common events taking place on the grounds include:

Guided Walks

Guided Walks are tours that occur every first Saturday of the month at 10am. Expert volunteers will share interesting bits of history while pointing out the best the gardens have to offer so you’re sure not to miss anything!

Camellia Show – January 7th and 8th

The Camellia Show event features prize-winning camellias and is geared toward educating the public about the care, culture, and appreciation of camellias. You can buy Camellias while supplies last.

Bamboo Sale

Every winter, Kanapaha holds an Annual Winter Bamboo Sale. In January, Kanapaha issues a descriptive sales/availability listing of bamboos that are being offered during January on a dug-to-order basis. More details are available here.

Spring Garden Festival – March 18th and 19th

Gainesville’s premier horticultural event, the Spring Garden Festival features about 125 booths offering plants, landscape displays, garden accessories, arts and crafts, educational exhibits and, of course, food. The children’s area is included with the admission price and includes potting up a plant to take home, a bean bag toss, photos, and many arts and crafts. More details are available here.

Fall Plant Sale – October 22nd and 23rd

Each October, people flock to the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens for the Open House & Fall Plant Sale.  The fall plant sale is held in conjunction with the Gainesville Orchid Society. It’s free to visit the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens for the Fall Plant Sale! In addition to viewing the botanical gardens, approximately 50 booths will be set up selling a wide variety of plants. This is the best time to visit Kanapaha Botanical Gardens to buy plants for sale. More details are available here.

Special Days

  • Mother’s Day – free admission for mothers of all ages
  • Father’s Day – free admission for fathers of all ages
  • Veteran’s Day – Any active or retired military get free admission

Rentals and Reservations

The 68 acre campus has indoor and outdoor spaces available for rental. It’s a fantastic location for weddings, baby showers, retirement parties, birthday festivities, and graduation celebrations. 

Weddings

Looking for a gorgeous backdrop for your wedding? The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a unique location to exchange vows and you can be sure you’ll have amazing photos of the day to treasure.

  • Rental fees always include chairs and tables indoors, chairs outside, and can be arranged to fit whatever plans or needs you have.
  • Rental includes access to the gardens for rehearsal. (There are no special hours!)
  • Rental fee also waives the regular cost of admission for up to 100 guests.
  • Rental Coordinator: Mischella Reed-Proebsting
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone Number: 352-372-4981 x103  
  • Office Hours: MWF 9am – 1pm, Tuesday 9am-12pm

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Memberships

Memberships are available. Purchasing a membership is a rewarding investment into your life, if you’re a local member of the community. While you can always enjoy peaceful walks through the gardens, meadows, and forest, and enjoy the Koi ponds, the memberships also provide discounts to many of the events and to the rental/reservation system.

Pricing

  • Individual – $40 (1 named adult)
  • Individual plus 3 kids – $50 (1 named adult and up to 3 of their children ages 18 and younger.)
  • Two Named Adults – $55 (2 named adults)
  • Two Named Adults plus 3 kids- $65 (2 named adults and up to 3 of their children ages 18 and younger.)
  •  Business- $130 (2 named business owners/staff & up to six clients per day. One business owner must be present with clients to enter.)
  • Extra card- $5 each

Benefits of a Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Membership

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens FAQs

Can I volunteer?

Absolutely! Everybody is encouraged to become a volunteer to help improve the local Gainesville community through this beautiful attraction.

How do I become a volunteer?

Call (352) 372-4981 or email [email protected] to get started.

Does Kanapaha accept donations?

Certainly! For anybody who wants to donate funds rather than time, visit this page.

Is Kanapaha Botanical Gardens a dog friendly place?

All pups need to be kept on a leash, but they’re all welcome!

Can you buy plants at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens?

Plants are available for sale during some special events.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a wonderful attraction for tourists and people considering relocation to the Gainesville area. As a member of the Gainesville community, we encourage our customers to check it out and even volunteer! If you need help scheduling and coordinating a Gainesville move, give 2 College Brothers a call at (352) 448-9095 or visit us online. The sooner we get you safely relocated, the sooner you and your family can check out these beautiful gardens.

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