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Gulf & Main Magazine

Alluring Fragrant Gardens at the Cape Coral Rotary Park

Dec 13, 2022 08:00AM ● By Ann Marie O’Phelan

Sweet almond has white clusters of flowers that offer a vanilla - almond fragrance.

Walking through a garden with colorful plants and various textures ignites even more of the senses when scented plants are blooming. 

The 96-acre Rotary Park in Cape Coral offers ponds, wetlands, salt flats, uplands, a variety of hiking trails, an observation tower, an environmental center, and a children’s playground. It’s also a great place to enjoy the winter aroma of several scented plants that are blooming right now in the gardens. 

Scented plants have been shown to positively impact one’s health, such as reducing stress, fighting depression and inflammation, and inducing sleep. Some of the scented winter blooms that can be found in the gardens are fiddlewood, a large shrub that can grow up to 35 feet tree and blooms with a long chain of trumpet-shaped white flowers that bloom year-round. This beauty delights visitors with the scent of sweet candy. 


Another captivating scent comes from the 10–15-foot sweet almond trees with clusters of showy white flowers that provide a vanilla-almond fragrance. Lastly, the leaves of the tropical sage, also known as scarlet sage, smell like tropical fruit and grow 2-6 feet tall. The sage also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  

“Our gardens are diverse and have a mixture of native plants, Florida-friendly specimen plants, and plants that attract butterflies, such as the monarch and zebra longwing, our state butterfly,” said Honey Phillips, M.S., CPRP, Senior Recreation Specialist at the park. 

Native plants in the park include seagrape, saw palmetto, and Florida violets. Birdwatchers are also pleased with the diversity and abundance that can sometimes be found at the park. Visitors can also spot animals like squirrels, tortoises, and snakes. Additionally, there are many events, classes and workshops held at the park, such as the Florida Friendly Landscape Program that promotes sustainable landscaping practices on 1/20 and 2/7 from 1 pm-3 pm; the Botany for Kids Home School Program on February 15 from 1 pm-2:30 pm ($10 per person);  and free Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly House tours on Monday, Friday, and Saturday at 10:30 am given by butterfly experts. 

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