Description - Long before Europeans reached Florida, Native Americans came here to hunt, fish and gather shellfish. A midden -- the mound of oyster shells, forms the hill at the top of the rose garden and other discards left by generations of Indians. Archaeological studies are currently underway to learn more about the Indian ways of life here.
Copyright: Florida Division of Recreation & Parks
Washington Oaks State Gardens
Over the course of several centuries, ownership of the land changed hands many times. During the 1500s and 1600s, several French, Spanish, and English groups passed through the area. The first documented settlement by Europeans came in 1770. In 1818, Jose Mariano Hernandez, a St. Augustine native of Minorcan descent, bought the land by 1936, Louise Powis Clark, a designer from New York, owned the oceanfront parcel. It was to become a winter retirement home for herself and her third husband, Owen D. Young, who added the formal garden. In 1962, Mr. Young died. Shortly before her death in 1965, Mrs. Young gave most of Washington Oaks to the State of Florida.
Much of the land remains as it has for hundreds of years. Shady hardwood hammocks, coastal scrub, and quiet salt marsh comprise the landscape. Visitors tours the lovely historical home which now serves as the visitor center, formal gardens and coastal beaches.
- Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Matanzas River, also known as the Intracoastal Waterway. Within this coastal hammock, you will find magnificent live oak trees. These trees offer shade as you walk through these tranquil and peaceful gardens. The gardens will take you on a journey down footpaths that lead you to enjoy the many varieties of plant life. Each season yields a new experience with the flowering of annuals, perennials, combined with exotics and native vegetation complimenting a beautiful natural setting. The gardens are well known for azaleas, camellias and roses. The rose garden features many different types including Don Juan, Tropicana, Kentucky Derby, Sweet Surrender, Sun Flare, Double Delight, Madellion and the wild Cherokee Rose. Upon stepping out of the rose garden many couples unite at the octagon, located next to one of the many reflection ponds, to recite their wedding nuptials. While strolling along the pathways, bordered with carpets of mondo grass, labels identify the wide variety of ornamental and exotic plants throughout the gardens. One of the highlights at the park are the many citrus trees along the outer perimeter of the garden.
A walk in the formal gardens will provide an atmosphere of tranquility. Many visitors spend several hours wondering and relaxing in the formal gardens located within the park. The garden makes remarkable use of exotic and native species all nestled within a picturesque oak hammock. Within the gardens, you will find everything from azaleas and camellias to the more exotic bird of paradise.
Recreation - Ocean waves have washed away the sand, exposing coquina rock and creating a picturesque boulder-strewn beach. At low tide, many shore birds feed and rest around the peaceful tidal pools. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, fishing and walking through the ornamental gardens and along the river.
Climate - Summers in northeastern Florida are hot and humid with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Summer temperatures average in the low 80's Fahrenheit (27 - 28 Celsius). Mild winter temperatures average below 52 degrees Fahrenheit (below 11 Celsius). Freezing temperatures are infrequent but windy conditions are common. The average precipitation for the northeast area is between 52 and 56 inches per year. Light, loose fitting clothing is recommended in spring, summer and fall. Layered clothing is recommended for winter. Biting insects are common throughout the year and are especially heavy from late April through early June.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is located two miles south of Marineland, off A1A.