By its very nature, flora is in a constant state of flux. So, too, is the Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County. No two trips to this West Palm Beach hidden gem are ever the same. Beyond an ever-changing array of buds in bloom, the Mounts often augments its 14-acre property with new attractions, such as Windows on the Floating World and the Garden of Tranquility.
Beginning in October, the Mounts will kick off its fortieth anniversary season. Highlights include a holiday Garden of Lights event as well as the installation of a new site-specific art piece by Patrick Dougherty that will debut in January.
Regardless of when you visit, you’re bound to find inspiration for your home garden. “Whether you have five acres in the farms or a patio in Delray, you can grow up to 90 percent of what you see here,” says curator and director Rochelle Ibanez-Wolberg. Here, we share 10 garden highlights from our curator’s tour of the Mounts.
- Mouse Trap Tree: Mice are attracted to this low-lying tree’s cheese-hued flowers. As they investigate it, seed pods adhere to their fur, turning them into unwitting pollinators.
- Cat’s Whiskers: This perennial is a captivating fixture of the English Cottage Garden. Here, you’ll find many southern substitutes for northern favorites, such as Dombeya, a tropical answer to hydrangea.
- Bodhi Tree: These trees are sacred in India because of their association with Buddha. When the Mounts planted its two Bodhis, 36 Buddhist monks came to bless them.
- Rainbow Eucalyptus: This colorful tree is one example of something you can’t grow at home due to its invasive-species status. “As the bark peels, it almost looks as if you took a crayon and shaved it,” says Ibanez-Wolberg.
- Bay Rum: Located in the Garden of Well Being, bay rum is an inedible cousin of the bay leaf. This Caribbean native forms the base scent for Old Spice.
- Ylang-ylang: Another plant known for its alluring aroma, ylang-ylang was used to create both Chanel No. 5 perfume and the original Pledge smell.
- Royal Poinciana: This tree, the garden’s largest, was planted after Hurricane Frances to replace her mother. She’s surrounded by confederate jasmine vine that is used in this instance as a ground cover.
- African Baobab: This highlight is best known for its peculiar shape that almost looks like an upside-down tree, with roots extending into the air. “When the leaves are off, it literally looks like it’s the root system,” notes Ibanez-Wolberg.
- Silk Floss Tree: This thorn-covered species evolved this trait in order to protect against animals who love to steal and eat its seeds, which taste like sweet almond. When in bloom, it produces flowers akin to cherry blossoms.
- Butterfly Garden: This charming nook abounds with an array of native species, including Florida’s official butterfly, the black-and-yellow-striped Zebra Longwing.