by JOANELLE MULRAIN
A 120-acre urban woodland awaits your tracks on its trails. The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, a gem of nature located in East Arlington, features a two-acre lake and miles of hiking footpaths taking you into and through multiple ecological habitats. The nonprofit group leases land from the City, and you and your family are invited to its birthday party on Saturday, November 9, from 9 am to 3 pm.
The Arboretum has partnered with the Northeast Florida Sculptors, whose members will present an exhibit of more than two dozen outdoor sculptures placed gracefully up and down the trails, gardens, around the Lake Loop and Jones Creek. Sculptures will use diverse materials, such as steel and wood, and some will feature natural materials that will decompose over time. The public will experience fine art in a natural setting. Each visitor can vote for a favorite to win the People’s Choice Award.
There are many other delights in store, too. Storytellers from the Beaches League of Storytellers and the Jacksonville Public Library will surprise visitors with verbal expressions. Photographer Lee McDonald will host a digital workshop. Demonstrations will feature a variety of nature-related events. Folk music will float through the leaves and trees from Jacksonville Old Time Jam, as volunteers lead guided nature walks. Chain-saw artist James Gandy will sculpt an old camphor tree stump along Live Oak Trail. Children may get their faces painted or join in an art project with found natural objects. And, when hunger sets in, food will be available from Up in Smoke.
“It is amazing what our all-volunteer organization has accomplished in five short years, and we are greatly indebted to all of our hard-working supporters,” states Gail Beveridge, board member. “The Arboretum is a magical place of natural beauty in the midst of our city, so through this special anniversary event, we hope to introduce many more people to the wonders of nature.”
The day will end with a brief awards ceremony, an important tribute to our military in recognition of Veterans Day (Monday, November 11), and a piece of cake. The event is free and open to the public; however, a donation of $3 per person or $5 per family is suggested.
Since opening in 2008, the board and dedicated volunteers have blazed and maintained more than three miles of trails; constructed decks, benches, picnic tables and a boardwalk to a National Champion Loblolly Bay tree; planted more than 400 trees, shrubs and flowering plants; installed a permanent waterless restroom; launched the Step Out in Nature program; offered monthly fitness and nature walks; and for the past three years hosted the successful plein air painting fundraiser, A Brush With Nature.
Mark your calendar to come out and celebrate their fifth birthday. Bring your family to relish in the wonders of nature at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, where preservation of unique habitats in an urban environment is accessible by the public seven days a week (8 am to 5 pm or 7 pm/daylight savings), except for special events, which are welcome!
Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
by JOANELLE MULRAIN