Nature Coast Botanical Gardens & Nursery
The Spring Hill Garden Club had a small plot of land at Lake House on Kenlake Avenue which they used as a nursery for their members to grow plants and sell to the public. Hernando County had .5 acres of land on Parker Avenue and wanted to create a county park. This 4.5 acre was too small for a park, but the Lake House property was large enough for their plans. On November 15, 1994, the club Hernando Co. with the Board of County Commissioners for a 99-year lease on a 4.5-acre scrubland on Parker Ave. The property would be used as a nursery and botanical garden. The one-hectare property was cleared of a kindergarten, including toilets and a paved parking area. The parking lot was funded by a fundraiser led by Gloria Nadeau, and the bathroom building was built with donated labor and materials. Complete land preparation began in 1997. This was a continuation of the club’s ongoing commitment to beautifying the district. A grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District provided the first significant funds to begin the major work on the gardens. The main path around the fence was made/designed from the remains of a previous firefighting plow to create a fire break in the community. There are still some trees in the garden that show fire damage from that time. The first plant sale in our new location took place on April 21, 1999.
In 2001, Ed Howels became the first gardens/project manager, and with the clearing of the remaining property, the Natural Coast Botanical Gardens (formerly known as the Hernando Co Botanical Gardens) began. By March 2004, 6 gardens were ready and several others were under construction. The first garden was the creation of the Don Howell Memorial Garden in 2002. This was followed by a wildflower garden designed by Don Kubiak at the entrance. The gardens remained very close to the original first printed map. Each new garden had to start with a $1,000 donation to the garden of your choice. Things blossomed from there. The waterfall was built by Rick and Tina Burkett, owners of Burkett Pond Builders. The plants were donated by the Spring Hill Rare Fruit Council, the Native Plant Society, and the garden nursery. At the edge of the lot was a large pile of felled trees and fallen trees that were beginning to decay, and what the early garden pioneers saw was not a pile of rubbish, but a beautiful mountain with a waterfall and a pond. Jim Erickson dug a hole for a fish pond in the lawn, which now has a rain curtain, at the request of the first nursery manager, Ethyl deValk. Don’t forget to check out this place in Spring Hill too.
A rose garden was planted in memory of Diane Fisher’s sister. and the gazebo in the garden was given by Gloria Nadeau in memory of her husband in June 2004 . The first wedding held in the garden was Gloria’s son. The Erickson family, Jim and Jeannie and their daughter Kathy, developed the Secret Garden. We worked hard to get it ready for our first wedding day. Secret Garden was also fortunate to receive a grant from the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program. The fantasy garden was created as a memorial to a daughter who died young. Members of the Hernando Computer Club created a ceramic koi pond and several benches and tables around the garden. Dick Keller built the building in what is now the Asian Garden. It is a beautiful place to host a wedding. Tom Howard has added some fun things to this garden, be sure to look for the birds hanging from his trees. Orchard Garden was started in 2006 by the Erickson family. It would show the fruits and berries of Florida Garden. They have other organizations that help maintain these beautiful gardens. In 2012, the Hernando Computer Club agreed to maintain the Fantasy Garden and the Hernando Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society agreed to maintain the Native Plant Garden. In 2017, a major project was started, during which a brick path was built around the main circle of the garden, which makes the gardens accessible to people with mobility difficulties. After a successful fundraiser, several very generous anonymous donations and several small grants this project was completed in 2019. Brian Feil, a woodcarver and garden club member, worked hard to reclaim a dead tree trunk in the picnic area. The Wood Spirit is said to be Lord of the Forest and Natural Things. Seeing one is said to be quite a lucky thing, and European villagers used to go out on regular hunts, hoping to find a Wood Spirit to foretell the future of their village. Also, in 2017 a complete renovation of the benches in the Nursery was completed. This really cleaned up the Nursery and makes it much easier to keep the benches cleaned.
A new garden was opened in the Welcome Center this year. This enabling garden is designed specifically for people with disabilities, making gardening almost impossible. This garden is now maintained by the organization ARC. Horticulturist Mary Wuest asked garden club member and artist Mary Scarpelli to paint cheerful flowers on the concrete structure to enhance the welcome center. 2020 is a very busy year. Our original plan was to pave both parking lots, however after having the septic system cleaned (for the first time in 20 some years) we found that the mulched lot must remain mulched. The main lot was repaved in late April. Tom Howard designed and built “Tom’s Birds” and installed them all around the gardens, keep your eyes open to find them all. The Toucan is interactive, pull the wire hanging and he will fly. You have to look hard to find the hummingbird in the Butterfly Garden. Tom and his crew also saved the Tree Spirit that had been rotting with the tree it was carved into. March 20021 Doug, Matt, Hugh, Tom and Josh are rebuilding the train and waterfall Garden. After many years the track bed was rotting and the waterfall had leaks and was overgrown. When it was cleaned out they found many beautiful things that had not been seen for years. The village is still under construction. In April 2021, new landscaping and the train village will be completed. Doug created an entire village of miniature plantations and many buildings, people, vignettes and circus animals. JULY – December 2021 Finally – the picnic pavilions are ready. Now, when you reserve a site, you’ll have shelter when the weather turns bad. We hope you enjoy the new addition. There is a 16 x 24 foot covered area with tables and floor and a wheelchair ramp. The Garden of Remembrance contains those in memory of individuals. The butterfly garden contains those to celebrate clubs/events/people. A pet memorial garden is a place to remember your four-legged best friend. Spring Hill Garden Club has preserved the landscape of our iconic landmark “The Waterfall” on the road. 19 and Spring Hill Drive, since 1978. It has been maintained by Garden Club Volunteers over all these years, but now The Garden Club has given over the maintenance to Dream Pools and Spa and Tyler Ortiz. For the past 15 years the landscape has been maintained by 2 lady volunteers, who are now in their 70s and are unable to continue in this capacity. “The Waterfall” was declared a Historic Landmark by Hernando County in 1992 and The Garden Club has decided to hand over the landscape responsibilities of this Important Landmark. If you are ever in need of home and foundation repair, click here.