Flamingo Gardens & Wildlife Sanctuary
3750 South Flamingo Road
Davie, FL 33330-1614
Flamingo Gardens was originally founded as Flamingo Groves, a citrus orchard, in 1927 by Floyd L. and Jane Wray. The Wrays came to Florida in 1925 and were deeply intrigued with the horticultural possibilities of the subtropical locale. They purchased 320 acres of land around and including Long Key in the Everglades. On January 2, 1927, Floyd L. Wray incorporated Flamingo Groves, beginning what was to become one of the first botanical gardens and tourist attractions in South Florida.
The Floyd L. Wray Memorial Foundation was established in 1969 by Mrs. Wray, in honor of her late husband, to preserve the core property for future generations and emphasize the history of the Florida Everglades. The name was changed to Flamingo Gardens, and the gardens were preserved and expanded. In 1990, the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary opened with the Bird of Prey Center, followed by the half-acre Free-flight Aviary featuring the 5 ecological zones of South Florida. One of the first of its kind in the country, the sanctuary gave residence to permanently injured or non-releasable Florida native wildlife.
$21.95 per day adult admission
I’m pulling from my collection of old photos. Today we’ll explore one of my favorite places in South Florida, Flamingo Gardens. It is located in Davie on the western side of Broward County (think Ft. Lauderdale). Acres of one of the last natural jungle growths in South Florida with over 3000 tropical and subtropical species of plants and trees, including the largest tree in Florida. It also boasts the largest single collection of State Champion trees which are the largest tree of their species as determined by the Florida Forestry Service. The oak grove below is the 2nd highest point in the Miami area.
The Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary is home to over 90 native species making it the largest collection of Florida native wildlife in the state. The property is now listed as Broward Cultural Heritage Landmark and the Wray Home is a register Historical Landmark with the state of Florida and a museum giving visitors a glimpse of life in the 1930’s. It was completed in 1932.
You’ll note the wide porch that sits at the front entrance and the many windows to provide shade and air circulation. Despite the heat and humidity of Florida, homes did not have anything like air conditioning and many in 1932 did not have electricity. The huge live oaks provide a canopy of shade for the home. They did not cut down all the large trees like modern builders as it takes decades for growth of a young tree.
Let’s take a quick look at several of the rooms to see how folks lived back in the early days of Florida. Let’s start with the dining room.
A quick look at the living room.
Next is the sewing room in a spare bedroom. I love the old pedal sewing machine.
I love this photo of the Mr. and Mrs. Wray walking among the native flamingos in the citrus grove. She later added peacocks to the birds on the grounds. Visitors were always welcome to visit the citrus grove and tour the growing garden.
When I lived in Broward County, I loved relaxing on the weekend by spending a day at Flamingo Gardens. I always learned something new, and I enjoyed my time with nature and history.
From walking on foot to the very nicely narrated guided tour on a tram, and to the tour of the original homestead on the grounds, you learn the history of the garden and its creatures. Now we’ll look at the beautiful landscape and enjoy the flowers.
We’ll see some birds as the flamingos and peacocks freely roam the grounds. Next week we’ll finish with a second post with lots of photos of the wildlife.
Just as in any garden some trees and plants bloom and flower at a certain time of year. These photos are from multiple visits in several seasons. Below is flowering mango trees. In southern Florida, mango trees begin to bloom in late November and continue until February or March, depending on the variety.
Summer means frangipani (plumeria) blooms.
Flowering bushes, vines, and trees are in the lush landscape.
All types of tropical plants can be found including bromeliads and orchids.
If you live within driving distance even if only during the winter, you should visit. If you love it, buy a membership for unlimited annual visits. It’s a great deal! Prices for membership start at $55 a year for students and seniors. That’s less than the cost of 3 single day tickets. Prices for memberships vary going up like the family price of $165 for 2 adults and up to 6 children.
If you are in the South Florida area for vacation, take a day and drive west to Flamingo Gardens.
Grab a bite to eat. Try a taste of Florida, like conch fritters and yucca bites.
And walk in the garden.
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