Wilmot Botanical Gardens, a historic landmark created in the memory of Royal James “Roy” Wilmot, a founding member of the American Camellia Society, now serves as a verdant respite for patients and their caregivers at UF Health and a vibrant center for research and education in therapeutic horticulture. The gardens are free and open to all members of the public. We kindly ask that you do not partake in any activities that could potentially damage the gardens such as putting up hammocks on the trees.
Importantly, Wilmot Botanical Gardens is not a single garden. Instead, the 4.8-acre property is made up of multiple gardens and has several notable features, the most predominant being its collection of camellias and azaleas. Be sure to discover them all during your visit.
Within North Florida, Wilmot Botanical Gardens boasts an unrivaled collection of camellias – the “empress of winter” – including approximately 410 individual specimens and over 270 varieties. Some of the camellias date back to the 1950s, although many of the original plants donated from across the country and from abroad to create Wilmot Garden in Roy Wilmot’s memory have not survived. Instead, the garden has benefited from the generosity and horticultural prowess of local camellia propagators. Mr. Larry Rahme, recently of Orange Springs, Florida, donated more than 100 camellias from his impressive private collection prior to his death in November 2018. Additionally, also in 2018, Clarence and Lillian Gordy donated over 300 camellias from their exemplary private garden in Ocala, Florida. Due to its extensive collection of camellias, WBG is now included on the list of American Camellia Trail Gardens.
Mendenhall Family Camellia Walk
The recently completed Mendenhall Family Camellia Walk, located in the southeast section of the Wilmot Botanical Gardens was made possible by a generous gift from Drs. William and Nancy Mendenhall in July 2020. Their gift to the gardens was made in consideration of the Mendenhall’s abiding interest in and love for the University of Florida and in gratitude for the Mendenhall family’s education at UF. This handsome addition to the Wilmot Botanical Gardens is intended to provide another peaceful green-space option for quiet reflection by UF Health patients, their families, faculty, employees, students, and garden visitors.
The Bromeliad Garden is located along the north side of the gardens and features several varieties of this unique family of plants. One key feature of many members of this plant family is their ability to store water in their leaf structures. Wilmot Botanical Gardens’ bromeliads were donated and planted by the local chapter of the Bromeliad Society.
Chapman Healing Garden
The Chapman Healing Garden is located near the south side of the Conference Center at Wilmot Botanical Gardens. The garden provides another venue for patients and the public to experience the therapeutic benefits of green spaces, more specifically by offering an abundance of sensory experiences related to plants, including their fragrance, texture, shape and color, as well as auditory stimulation from a water feature. The Chapman Healing Garden was made possible due to a generous donation from The Dr. Jules B. Chapman and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation.
Gordy Camellia Garden
The Gordy Camellia Garden is located in the south central section of the Wilmot Botanical Gardens near the Lifestyles Garden and Track. The garden contains several camellias that were propagated and registered with the American Camellia Society by Clarence and Lillian Gordy, recently of Ocala, Florida.
The Hippocratic Garden serves as the site of the UF College of Medicine’s Hippocratic Award ceremony that is held each spring. The garden boasts a sycamore tree that is believed to be a cutting from the original tree located on the Greek Isle of Kos under which Hippocrates taught medicine, according to legend.
Japanese Maple Tree Garden
The Japanese Maple Tree Garden, which features a collection of more than 30 rare Japanese maple trees, is nestled near the middle of the gardens. Identifiable by a Genkan, or traditional Japanese entryway, made of redwood and cedar, this garden adds a new aspect to Wilmot’s foliage, with brilliant colors in the spring and fall and delicate green leaves during the summer. The garden was made possible by financial support from Dr. and Mrs. Johannes Vieweg and the gift of the maple trees from their private collection.
In addition to gardens located throughout the 4.8 acres, Wilmot Botanical Gardens boasts large, green expanses, perfect for picnics, lounging or enjoying the gardens sights and sounds. The Commons, a large lawn located centrally in the gardens, provides an ideal vantage point for enjoying the surrounding foliage and trees, including the Hippocratic Garden and a large portion of the camellia collection.
Lifestyle Garden and Track
A 60-meter accessible track that features a soft rubber surface graces the southern edge of the gardens, adjacent to the UF Shands Medical Plaza and the Davis Cancer Pavilion. It provides a shady activity zone and gathering area for patients, staff, faculty and the public. The track encircles a lovely garden and patio replete with seating. A shelter with a table and additional seating is located adjacent to the west end of the track, which is open year-around for all to use.
The Conference Center at Wilmot Botanical Gardens
Located across Mowry Road from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Institute on Aging, the conference center serves as the administrative hub for the gardens and rental space for meetings, receptions, and other events. The facility has handicap-accessible bathrooms and its own parking lot off Gale Lemerand Drive.
The Greenhouse at Wilmot Botanical Gardens
The greenhouse is one of the most important additions to the gardens since the restoration efforts began in 2006. The greenhouse provides more than 2,700 square feet of climate-controlled space for gardening as well as office and reception areas. It also houses the Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Wilmot Botanical Gardens, which allows individuals to benefit from the healing power of gardening and provides a venue to perform empirical research into the benefits of therapeutic horticulture. The greenhouse was funded entirely by private gifts and gifts in kind.
Founders’ Walk and Leaders & Legends Walk
The brick pathway from Mowry Road to the Hub acknowledges individuals who contributed gifts or gifts in kind to the gardens early during its restoration and is therefore referred to as Founders’ Walk. Wilmot Botanical Gardens established the Leaders & Legends Walk in 2012 to recognize the contributions of individuals who served in key leadership roles or otherwise made significant contributions to the UF College of Medicine.