Not only are botanical fruit gardens educational, they are fun to explore. You can see sub-topical, tropical and exotic fruit trees and plants from around the world. You can learn how they grow and how the fruit is harvested. In some places, you can even taste the fruits. South Florida is an excellent location for botanical fruit gardens, because the temperatures rarely drop to the freezing point. Even so, some of the trees and plants have to be sheltered in greenhouses.
Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion
The Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion is located in Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens in Coral Gables (see Location and Resources). The pavilion was funded by a grant of $5 million from William F. Whitman's family and some of the plants were grown by Whitman himself. The area below the pavilion was excavated and refilled with acidic soil that the trees need for proper growth. It is one of the largest collections of tropical fruit in the world. In addition to mangos, avocados, Spanish limes and tamarinds, numerous lesser-known exotic fruit plants are protected by the pavilion.
The Florida Botanical Gardens
A tropical fruit garden is located in The Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo (see Resources). More than a dozen varieties of bananas and plantains grow in the garden, as well as mango and citrus trees, sugar cane, pineapple plants and other fruit trees from around the world.
Edison Ford Winter Estates
The garden at the Edison Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers was developed by Thomas Edison and Henry Ford (see Resources). They planted berry bushes and fruit trees to provide food for the people who lived on the estates. Mango, citrus and coconut trees grow in the garden, in addition to other tropical and exotic fruit plants.