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Maclay State Gardens - Tallahassee
About 5 miles south of where we live. 

Maclay Gardens has been a Florida state park since 1953, when the property was given to the state of Florida by the family of Alfred Barmore Maclay of New York, who planned and developed the gardens on the grounds of his Tallahassee winter home.  When he purchased the property in 1923, there was only a narrow wagon trail from the unpaved Thomasville Road (U.S. 319) leading to a simple hunting lodge on the roughly wooded hillside overlooking Lake Hall.

LINK
Event: Pops In The Gardens Oct. 21st
 
The House Walk
This walk from the garden gate to the house was the first part of the plantings planned and carried out by Mr. Maclay. It was clay sufaced until the brick paving was laid in 1968. 

The use of native plants in landscaping to complement the exotic flora is evident here and throughout the gardens, in addition to the fine old oaks, holly and smaller trees of dogwood and redbud. A cyrilla or white titi, common shrub of lowlands and swamps, was left to grow to tree size along the lakeside. This plant is rarely seen used horticulturally.


 
The Camellia Walk
The Camellia Walk leads to a formal garden enclosed by brick walls green with climbing ivy. This is often called the PansyGarden because pansies have always been planted here. Small century plants accent the symmetrical arrangement of terraced beds around the central pool. They are copied realistically in the entral bronze fountain, made to order for this pot. The sculptor used as a model a live century plant sent to his New York studio.

Against the brick walls are plantings that include kumquat fronted by clipped boxwood. Besides the fountain, other ornaments in the Walled Garden include a blue and white della Robbia plaque brought from Italy. A tablet in the Walled Garden commemorates the dedication of the gardens as a state park March 17, 1956, the day Governor LeRoy Collins accepted the property for the state of Florida. 

Through the arched gateway in the east wall, a vista opens to Lake Hall down a long rectangular reflecting pool set in a meticulously kept lawn between clipped white azaleas and palms from the nearby Gulf coast.

The slight elevation of the slope makes the effect possible only from this point in the gardens. Viewed "backward" from the House Walk toward the Walled Garden, the pool is hardly noticeable, and the effect lost.


 
Pine Needle Path
From the Walled Garden the pond can be approached most directly along the Pine Needle Path to the right of the reflection pool. The Pine Needle Path winds between walls of camellia, gardenia and palmetto growing under tall tea olive and viburnum. 


 
 The lake offers a pleasant digression to a waterside pavillion where a bathhouse once stood. Today, one might chance upon two people exchanging their wedding vows in the light of a glorious sunset or a family just sharing a quiet moment overlooking Lake Hall. The water level in Lake Hall varies, and high water brings more aquatic plants and redwing blackbirds that sing among the grasses. Looking toward the lake, a large native red maple stands to the left of the pavillion, a honey locust on the other side.

 
Along the shore south of the pavillion, the Lakeside Path is borderered by magnolias, black gum and oaks, underplanted with numerous wild azaleas of several species collected from the wild as far north as Albany, Georgia. In bloom, their pink, red and yellow flowers light the woodland trail during late March and early April.

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