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Florida Fresh Air: Mead Botanical Garden presents a relaxing urban oasis

Last updated: 01-18-2021

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Florida Fresh Air: Mead Botanical Garden presents a relaxing urban oasis

Orlando Sentinel |
Jan 15, 2021 at 5:05 AM
Florida Fresh Air is a weekly column that highlights one of the numerous outdoor parks, trails or natural spaces Central Florida has to offer.
Visitors to Mead Botanical Garden will discover that tranquility is abundant in a setting not far from urban Orlando and Winter Park. Natural delights come in the form of old oak trees and Floridian fauna at the urban oasis with 47 acres to explore.
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Tucked away near Lake Virginia and Lake Sue, the green space attracts morning walkers and joggers, cyclists, birders, picnickers and explorers alike. Florida’s biodiversity is highlighted in the dry uplands and forest wetlands that make up the gardens.
While wandering through the urban oasis, it’s possible to spot squirrels, turtles, egrets, butterflies, woodpeckers among the trees or along a 3/4-mile walking trail. Along Howell Creek, the trail follows cypress trees and hikers may catch glimpses of wading birds, alligators or the occasional river otter.
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A great egret rests in Alice's Pond at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
The gardens were dedicated in 1940 and founded by Rollins College professor Edwin Grover and Eagle Scout Jack Connery, who named the space after their friend Theodore Mead, a naturalist from Oviedo.
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Educational opportunities are abundant in the park, a common destination for field trips, summer camps and school programs designed to teach children about Central Florida’s ecology. When not actively walking or learning, it’s easy to enjoy a picnic with family, friends or a significant other under the shade of longleaf pines and oak trees.
Mead Botanical Garden also has spaces available to rent for wedding ceremonies and special events.
An amphitheater can serve as an event venue at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
Important information
Location: 1300 S. Denning Drive in Winter Park
Hours: 8 a.m. to dusk daily
Amenities: Amphitheater, bike trail, picnic tables, gardens, boardwalk, greenhouse, discovery barn, hiking trail, pond, event venue, on-site parking, pavilion, restrooms, wheelchair accessibility
Activities: Birding, hiking, cycling, outdoor education, picnicking, gardening, jogging, school programs, weddings
What to bring: Pack a picnic and a blanket when enjoying an afternoon in the gardens, or bring a good book to read while sitting on benches spread throughout the park. A bird guide might also be useful, as Mead Botanical Garden is listed on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
What not to bring: Alcohol is prohibited within the park. Winter Park’s rules also specify that ponies and petting zoos are not permitted in the park, regardless of birthday parties or special events.
Pets: Well-behaved and leashed pets are welcome but aren’t allowed in picnic areas or restrooms. Owners must clean up after their pets.
Pro tips: Bring a camera to capture Floridian flora and fauna within the park. Wildlife tend to be more active in the early morning and evening. Gaze up at trees to spot owls, woodpeckers and other birds.
More information: 407-622-6323 or meadgarden.org
Find me on Twitter @PConnPie , Instagram @PConnPie or send me an email: pconnolly@orlandosentinel.com .
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