News From The Gardens

January 27, 2021

By Kathy Busick

The Gardens at Lakes Park are simply spectacular and worth strolling through every day. You will see evidence of all the hard work accomplished by an eager and enthusiastic crew of between 20 and 25 volunteers.

if you are interested in volunteering in the gardens at Lakes Park you will need to go on the Lee County Parks and Recreation website and scroll down to volunteer opportunities. Currently, we have a full crew of volunteers and are looking for people who live here full-time and would be able to help out during the late spring and summer months.  

We are adding benches to the Fragrance Garden for you to sit on and enjoy, a brief respite from daily life.. A pallet of white bricks was left over when the gazebo area received a new cement pad, and they have been repurposed to spruce up the area in front of the benches. If you are interested in purchasing a bench or brick go to the Lakes Park Enrichment website for more information. (

Every day something new is blooming or getting ready to bloom. Many of our plants and trees are a bit worse for wear due to the cold weather we experienced in January, but will spring back to their former glory as the weather warms. Make sure to check out the Starburst Clerodendron that are located near the wedding gazebo. (We have Four that are getting ready to burst into bloom) If you follow the outside path past the Community garden you will spy our Lightbulb Cherodendron in full bloom. It is a small tree like specimen that has blooms that look like a string of tiny, delicate light bulbs.

 The new roses recently planted in the Rose Garden are starting to thrive with lots of TLC from “the rose ladies” who love to work in that area. In the hopes of preventing damage caused by watering the leaves of the roses, drip irrigation is being installed in the main rose area. Good work ladies, cause growing roses in Florida ain’t easy at best! 

The ABC garden, in the Children’s Garden is full of vegetables that go along with the letters of the alphabet. It is fun to watch the children go around the bed and chant the alphabet. It is wonderful for them to see where their vegetables come from. The produce is donated to the Community Cooperative for families in need. The pollination area is full of milkweed and of course Monarch butterflies laying their eggs. You can also check out the wild cotton and the two banana groves. Have you ever seen a banana blossom? Thanks to the hard work of “the Children’s Garden” crew this area is constantly being weeded and pruned for families to enjoy. It is a very popular and kid friendly place to wander through. The instruments are a popular feature. 

There are always plenty of butterflies and birds to view. A loggerhead shrike likes to entertain our volunteers who work in the recently planted trees at the back of the gardens. We do have a resident pair of red shouldered hawks that can be heard calling to each other. A Great Blue Heron was recently seen gathering large branches for his nest. 

Our gardens are full of milkweed due to the diligence of “our butterfly lady” who sprays for aphids and wasps (using a soapy spray) while not harming the eggs or emergent caterpillars. The pods open when ripe and the seeds are carried far and wide by the wind. 

Due to the hard work of our crew of dedicated and talented guys, the gardens have never been so well maintained. On our Monday and Thursdays they can be found pruning, trimming, spreading mulch, clearing out overgrown areas, fixing and replacing the trellises, building new doors for the sheds, sprucing up the benches with left over bricks and weeding whacking and edging the boarders of the beds. Have you seen the new sign in the native plants area? The guys built a beautiful stand using scrap wood. 

The propagation ladies raise many of our plants from cuttings, seeds and donations from friends. The propagation area is full of specimens in all stages of growth. Many are placed back in the gardens, but others are sold twice a month at the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday. Come check us out. All monies raised go back to the Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation and used to support the park. 

Believe it or not, there is a crew who are at home in the Cactus succulent gardens . It is a prickly experience at times, but their hard work and dedication has turned this neglected area into a show piece.

The small koi pond /bridge area has become a favorite photo op for many folks. It was a somewhat neglected area for two long, but another crew has taken on the task of keeping it well maintained. Look for more plantings in that area in the near future. 

The gardens would never look so spectacular without the “ladies who love to weed”! They float around through the 6 acres of gardens, weeding, raking and pruning as needed. 

Make sure to stop and say hello when you are in the gardens, especially on our Monday and Thursday work days. We can answer your questions if you have any, and we do appreciate all the positive comments.