SPRING HILL — There’s still plenty of time to vote for the best decorated holiday tree at the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens and Nursery.
As has been the tradition every holiday season, guest businesses and individuals are invited to decorate a tree at the gardens, located at 1489 Parker Ave, Spring Hill, with visitors then donating a dollar to the non-profit group to choose their favorite. The gardens are free to tour and are open dawn to dusk seven days a week.
Those who’ve noticed the flowers and landscaping at the entrance to Spring Hill at Commercial Way and Spring Hill Boulevard might be interested to know that it is volunteers of the organization who maintain and do the plantings there. Bright red poinsettias are the centerpiece of the display now, and will remain until after the first of the year, which is when votes for best-decorated tree will be counted and the poinsettias will be relocated to the nearby gardens.
The gardens also are taking donations of poinsettias, with those donating being able to dedicate the plants to someone in commemoration. A tag with the name of the person being remembered is hung on a tree in the poinsettia section of the gardens. Many people have poinsettias they may want to donate after the holidays, said Kathy Wolfe, nursery manager, and they may do so any time of year.
The nursery at the gardens also sells a wide variety of plants and flowers, said Wolfe, the proceeds supporting the Nature Coast group. Volunteers at the gardens also offer up great advice on planting and caring for various types of plants and trees to help residents improve their home landscaping.
“We’re the best-kept secret in Spring Hill,” said Wolfe. “There are so many people who don’t know we’re here, but those who find us really are surprised.”
The gardens are tucked away in a wooded area next to Hernando County Fire Rescue Station 1, and are lavishly landscaped with mostly native plants and trees. There are 22 themed sections throughout the gardens, including bromeliad, butterfly, herb, Florida native and rose gardens. There is as a fish pond where visitors can feed the fish. There’s a waterfall adjacent to a simulated rain forest. Brick-paved walkways wind throughout the gardens, where on the west end there is an entrance to the “Secret Garden.”
“It’s fun and very educational for children,” said Wolfe.
Those who want to find out more, make donations or volunteer to help can visit the group’s website at www.naturecoastgardens.com.
“We depend on donations and community support, and we are all-volunteer,” said Wolfe. “Everything we get goes to support the gardens and we give back through our support of community causes.”