With a mission to "inspire and educate through nature" and a history spanning more than 40 years, Mounts Botanical Garden is Palm Beach County’s oldest and largest botanical garden. Located behind Palm Beach International Airport, the Garden is a hidden gem.
Visitors to this 14-acre tropical oasis will see an acclaimed collection of 25 unique garden areas containing more than 5,000 species of tropical and sub-tropical plants, including Florida natives, exotic and tropical fruit trees, herbs, palms, roses, cactus, bromeliads and much more.
Other highlights include the award-winning Windows on the Floating World: Blume Tropical Wetland and Lake Orth, where an island overlook gives visitors a view of the koi, plecos and turtles that are in abundance. Mounts Botanical is part of the Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Department, in partnership with the University of Florida and the non-profit Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden
For 40 years, the entire farming community of Palm Beach County received invaluable assistance from Marvin Umphrey “Red” Mounts. He was born in Oklahoma in 1898 at the family’s sod farm house. After he graduated from agricultural college at the University of Florida in 1925, Mounts was hired as Palm Beach County’s first assistant agricultural extension agent. His territory covered 1,261,000 acres.
Mounts encouraged farm families to expand their usual crops of green beans and tomatoes to a variety of tropical fruits and up to 18 vegetables to improve their health as well as their finances. He introduced a grass for cattle grazing that held up on wet soil, investigated the best fertilizers and pesticides, and taught farmers about marketing. He showed cattlemen how to breed Cracker cows with beefier types from up north and how to fatten them faster with new strains of grasses. He collected soil samples and helped identify which nutrients were needed.
When not in the field, Mounts would compile farming statistics, lecture to garden clubs, and preach the gospel of agriculture at school career days. Mounts also formed the first chartered 4-H Club in Florida and helped to establish the Audubon Society of the Everglades.
In his early days on the job, it took Red Mounts two days to travel from his office in the county courthouse to the Glades (Everglades Agricultural Area) using barges and the Conners Toll Road, now Southern Boulevard. When the Palm Beach County Agricultural Extension Agency moved to Military Trail in 1954, the new building was named for Mounts, as was the adjacent Mounts Botanical Garden. Marvin “Red” Mounts died in 1969.
I had to return to Mount's for the Christmas display and it was great! It was a true magic Wonderland.