Scenic USA - Florida

Maclay State Gardens

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Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park - Tallahassee, Florida

Photos by Lou Kellenberger
Lou Kellenberger Photography

     North Florida's winters are usually mild and short lived, and this early March view of Maclay State Gardens offers strong proof that spring is here. The azaleas, magnolias and Azaleas in Bloom camellias are in full bloom, putting on quite a show in this 28 acre botanical garden. The beautiful grounds give Tallahassee a good reason to call itself the city where spring begins.
     New York financier Alfred B. Maclay created a 3760 acre estate in 1923 naming it Killearn, reflecting his Scottish roots. Aided by Fred J. Ferrell, an ornamental garden began to take shape in 1925. Ferrell, the master gardener, stayed on at the estate for almost 50 years. Following an English country garden design, Silver Bells in Bloomthe Maclay Garden incorporates a formal walled garden, reflecting pool and a secret garden.
     Maclay's widow, Louise Fleischmann Maclay, continued to maintain the garden after Maclay's death in 1944. Finding it difficult to manage, she finally donated 307 acres, including the garden, to the state in 1953. Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park features over 150 varieties of camellias, 50 varieties of azaleas and a huge collection of exotics. The Aunt Jetty camellia was the first to be planted at the garden and is thought to be over 150 years old.

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