Monday, February 18, 2013

A Walk in the Jacksonville Arboretum

     On a warm winter day last week, my husband, Maggie the super dog, and I enjoyed a magical afternoon walk on the trails at the Jacksonville Arboretum. This delightful preserve, reclaimed from the edge of a former waste dump, has been creatively transformed into a multi-use park and education center. Husband Mark, a master gardener and member of the area Native Plant Society, participated in that transformation, along with many other tireless volunteers. They cleaned up trash, cleared and leveled trails, labeled some trees and plants, and selectively planted others--carefully adding only true native specimens (plants that would have greeted the first European visitors to Florida centuries ago). The 120 acre arboretum is notable for housing several distinct ecological zones in an accessible, walkable whole. 

     We hiked the easy lake trail and then ventured onto another trail above a ravine, where several streams flowed through the area. The experience was fun (doggie delight adds a wonderful dimension), refreshing, and renewing. Although we were within the city limits of Jacksonville, Florida, it felt like a faraway adventure into forests, scrub land, and meadows. I was particularly grateful to be able to walk for over an hour and a half--exercise that would have been difficult and painful before my recent total right hip replacement. It feels miraculous to consider further exploration and gradually greater walking distances in this amazing coastal North Florida region. And, of course, I took a number of reference photos for future paintings, so stay tuned for what that might bring.

    For more information about the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, the web site is here. Other than that, the photos can complete the story of a wonderful day.

Question of the day: What are some of your favorite walks or hikes near home?


  1. What a beautiful spot, Mary!! We live not too far from Starved Rock and I do like walking the trails there (notice I didn't say "hike" which implies much more hard work!). We also have the I&M Canal trail behind our house and have often walked along or biked along it. I love seeing all the indigenous animals and reptiles (though I admit to quaking in fear when I see what looks like a rat speeding through the water or even snakes whipping through the sometimes stagnant areas)!

  2. I like to go to the zoo and walk and see the anmimals and garden see the butterfly garden at the. Where yall walk are there any bike trails. Where you can take your bike and ride it. I would like to go sometime and take my bike and walk on that trail. Where yall go and take a walk and have a pinc there sometime. Is there any where you can fly a kite. Where yall take a walk at on that trail. Do you know where some good places you can fly a kite at.

  3. When are you going to have a open house and show your art work again. Because i love all of your painting very much. Because i like to paint and draw alot very much. I guss i think of you like family. Since i like to paint and draw very much.

  4. Great to hear from you, Sherry! Your walks sound lovely, and I appreciate hearing about them.

    Hi Anon. There are not any bike trails at the Arboretum--probably because the trails have uneven spots and roots across in some areas. I don't know when I will have another art open house, but you'll definitely know about it when the time comes.