Florida Travel: Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda

"Steel Palm" is Signature Sculpture of the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, Fla.
"Steel Palm" is Signature Sculpture of the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, Fla.
“Steel Palm” is Signature Sculpture of the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, Fla.

More than a decade in the making and a gift of Roger and Linda Tetraul and the Roger and Linda Tetrault Family Foundation, the opens in a new windowPeace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens has made its public debut.

opens in a new windowTurkish Artist Kemal Tufan during the Instalation of "Keel" at the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, Fla., June 2014.
Turkish Artist Kemal Tufan during the Instalation of “Keel” at the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, Fla., June 2014.



On a rainy day in June 2014, I first visited the gardens to watch the sculpture called “Keel” installed by Turkish artist Mr. Kemal Tufan. The piece, which replicates a boat keel, has more than 20 individual pieces and the heaviest piece weighs 5,800 lbs. Because the individual pieces were so heavy, a crane was used to move each piece individually.

opens in a new windowInstalation of"Keel" at the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, Fla., June 2014.
Instalation of”Keel” at the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda, Fla., June 2014.

Although more than 3 years ago, I vividly remember that day. Members of the local media were invited to attend because this will be a significant cultural attraction for the area. It rained (and the pesky bugs were out in full force) and only one reporter showed up, who I don’t think  wrote about the day. I tried to rally more media – that’s my job – and the response was pretty much, “Call us when you’re open.”

opens in a new window"Keel" - Preview - Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., July 2017
“Keel” – Preview – Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., July 2017

Today, Phase I of the gardens, a beautiful, youthful 11 acres, is open.  When fully developed, it will be 27 acres of lush landscape dotted with large-scale interpretive, whimsical and sometimes quirky, sculptures crafted by artists from around the world. The first and signature piece installed in the gardens is “Steel Palm,” by Boston artist Mr. Jacob Kulin. It was inspired by a 50 million-year-old palm frond fossil in the Tetrault’s private collection. It stands 18-feet tall and contains of more than a dozen individual pieces.

opens in a new window"New York City Slicker" - Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017
“New York City Slicker” – Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017

Two sculptures called “Ostriches,” which are graphic designs on aluminum, stand 20′ tall at the entrance of the gardens and bow to greet visitors. They were created by Chinese artist Mr. Yu Zhaoyang.

opens in a new window"Ostriches" - Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017
“Ostriches” – Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017

When I say “fully developed,” not every acre will be developed. Some will be left natural and now, visitors can walk along a boardwalk through a stand of mangroves which has three species of Florida’s mangroves, red, black and white. I enjoy this walk because a bit of it is naturally canopied by the mangroves. Another boardwalk leads by “Keel” and out over the Peace River to a gazebo.

opens in a new windowLinda and Roger Tetrault and Photographer/Artist Laurie Tennent - Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017
Linda and Roger Tetrault and Photographer/Artist Laurie Tennent – Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017

The Garden Community Center houses a café, gift shop and gorgeous photography exhibit called Botanicals by Michigan artist Laurie Tennant, on display through March 2018. She captured her botanical images by visiting the gardens and setting up her own darkroom to process the prints. Linda Tetrault was over the moon when telling me about Laurie’s talents and Laurie told me from the time she met Roger to Oct. 20, 2017, the garden’s opening, it was a two-year process. Fifty percent from the sale of her images will go back to the gardens.

opens in a new windowPeace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., July 2017
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., July 2017

Tour the opens in a new windowPeace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens on your own or join one of the volunteers, which I recommend because they will probably point out something you would have missed. The gardens are a nice addition to Southwest Florida and eventually, I would like to see a Florida garden trail and at the very least, a Southwest Florida gardens tour to include opens in a new windowSelby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, opens in a new windowEverglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, opens in a new windowEdison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, and opens in a new windowNaples Botanical Gardens in Naples.

opens in a new windowPhotographs by Laurie Tennant. Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017
Photographs by Laurie Tennant. Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Punta Gorda, Fla., Oct. 2017

Learn more about the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens by visiting their opens in a new windowwebsite.

Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
5800 Riverside Drive
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
Tel: (941) 621-8299
opens in a new windowwww.PeaceRiverGardens.org

View more images of the Gardens on opens in a new windowFlickr account.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to support this blog, my traveling habit and my special-needs dog.

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

One thought on “Florida Travel: Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda”

  1. Hi !! I just saw this post thank you so much for including me and the great comments, when you visit again the permanent works are installed outside!

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