STORY AND PHOTOS BY SUSAN BURGESS
Heathcote Botanical Gardens, the green jewel in
Fort Pierce’s crown, is looking at an even
brighter future as it grows into Heathcote
Botanical Park in the next three to five years.
“It’s such a big asset,” said Fort Pierce Mayor Bob
Benton during a visit to Tallahassee. “It’s one of the gems
of the city, and it helps us capitalize on our natural
resources. One of the reasons I’m in Tallahassee right now
is to draw attention to our world-renowned landscape.”
Pending completion of land purchase talks with the
city, a $3.5 million Florida Communities Trust grant will
help the botanical garden grow to a 67-acre park and
eventually to 150 acres, said board President Cris Adams.
“I see Heathcote now as a tourist attraction,” she said.
“I see it after expansion as a destination.”
The botanical area will expand from 5 to 15 acres, she
said. The rest will be a park for a variety of free public
uses. A nearby lake will offer picnicking, playground,
fishing, hiking, and biking, with demonstration gardens
and an education building nearby.
At completion, the park will link Indian Hills Golf
Course north of Savannah Road to a huge swath of greenway
leading to Jensen Beach, and serve as the gateway
between the north and south legs of an interstate hiking
and biking trail system winding through the city’s downtown
and the county, said Fort Pierce Urban Forester
“The idea of the expansion creating a connection that
A lake will soon become part of Heathcote Botanical Gardens with paths
and recreation areas along its edges.