Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens
Sunken Gardens is located in a great St.Petersburg neighborhoodFlorida

Florida has forty-two different botanical gardens to choose from. At 4 square acres, Sunken Gardens is perhaps one of the smallest Botanical Gardens in Florida.  But, what it lacks in acreage it makes up for by its location near downtown St. Petersburg, with its great music, art scene, and huge selection of eateries.  The Gardens are also co located with a children’s museum housed in an historic building.

Sunflowers
Colors lurk in interesting places
dutchmans-pipe
Look up for unique plants

Most of Florida’s old roadside attractions have been well catalogued, though Sunken Gardens seems to have missed out..perhaps because only bits and pieces still exist.

Old Forida
A Doorway to Old Florida

But, it exemplifies the kind of hybrid garden/zoo that was common in the state.  Thus the unique collection of birds here and the occasional interloper.

Chilean Flamingos
Chilean Flamingos
parrot cages
One of the many parrot cages
Racoon
A raccoon visits

Because of its age, this garden has some of the oldest trees and bushes that we see in the metropolitan area. Remnants of old Florida remain with the fauna here relatively unique. From the photographer’s perspective this  clearly provides opportunities.  It’s possible to come here mid-day and still have shade.  The flamingos, common in the past, in front of hotels and the like are now limited to places such as Sunken Gardens.  There are many flowers and birds that provide macro opportunities, but a wide-angle lens is useful for capturing the amazing landscape provided by the old live oaks, ferns and colorful Bougainvillea. On the other hand, the day I took these photos had started out bright, but my sun disappeared….making for a pretty dark day as reflected in these photos.

The small size of the garden and the seemingly steep entrance fee here are issues. The much larger Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo is free (described in a future post).   However, members of the American Horticultural Society, available with nearly any Botanical Gardens, membership will get a free pass here and Groupon has discount offers. These Gardens are worth a visit in conjunction with a visit to the ever-improving downtown St. Pete, or perhaps the Children’s Museum.

The St. Petersburg Art Scene

ArtWalk

Wow! The September Second Saturday ArtWalk was amazing.  As with many towns around Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg holds a monthly ArtWalk where local galleries remain open late and often have special exhibitions or openings.  St. Petersburg has one of the best in the area.  This month we were lucky enough to have ArtWalk coincide with the finale of the St. Petersburg Mural Festival (SHINE 2016).   Here are a some of our favorites. The Festival attracted official and unofficial entries…with many businesses adding public art.

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Some of the murals weren’t quite complete so we were able to watch some of the artists still applying paint. Lucky for us, unlike a chalk festival, we can return during the next few months to see ones that we missed and revisit our favorites. A map of the murals and information on all these great artists can be found here.

In addition to the murals, twenty-one museums and galleries had special exhibits.  Each month is different so before we headed out  we downloaded the monthly map and guide from ArtAlliance website.  As the ArtWalk covers about four square miles, we have found it better to decide in advance to focus on one or two of the five arts districts .

We usually choose a centrally located restaurant, park nearby and walk to galleries. You can also use the trolly.  Central Avenue continues to evolve into a gastronomic haven, with new restaurants and cafes opening every month. Our restaurant choice this time was the recently-opened Hawkers Asian Street Fare. Check out this intriguing, yet inexpensive menu. It was worth the wait.

Hawkers restaurant
Hawkers Asian Street Fare

By far, the Warehouse district has the largest number of galleries that participate in the ArtWalk and it has been many a month that we spend a large part of our Saturday night at Duncan McClellan’s Gallery sipping wine and watching the glass blowing demonstration where a featured artist creates amazing art glass.  These are great photo ops! During ArtWalk a food truck is set up and often they have live music.

Glass Blowing
Duncan McLellan Art Gallery

I can’t promise that ArtWalk will be this exciting every month….but with more new galleries and restaurants opening all the time, you can’t go wrong visiting St. Pete during this  monthly event.