The gardens are a beautiful part of this park, located in Flagler County, Florida Washington Oaks also offers shoreline on the Atlantic oceanside and the Matanzas River. The property was once owned by a distant relative of President George Washington.
Louise and Owen Young who purchased the land in 1936 established the gardens and built a winter retirement home. Eventually around 1965 they donated most of the property to the state. The gardens include the use of native and exotic species, all underneath an oak hammock.
I set out exploring on this visit at the picnic area of the park. I started walking on one of the trails, while walking I could hear a rustle in the trees along the trail. I stopped to listen, I didn’t hear anything. I started walking again and yep, I heard the rustle again. I stopped looked up and there he was, a curious nosey squirrel, I realized he was following me and he continued to follow me jumping from tree to tree, to the end of that trail.
I also was able to see other creatures in the park. In the water areas and streams, running through the gardens, I was able to capture a few photos of small gators. As you can see they are well camouflaged in the water, and they also sit nicely hidden on the banks under the foliage. I also saw a couple of water snakes, most likely poisonous!
You can picnic and fish from either the beach side or along the Matanzas River. The park has a few short trails for hiking and bicycling. Weddings can be preformed at the park, there are several places inside the park to choose, garden or beachside. In the visitor center, a person can learn more about the park.
I found this photo on FloridaMemory.com, it was taken in the 1960’s: “Washington Oaks Gardens: Part of a Spanish land grant to Bautista Don Juan Ferreira in 1815. Developed as a plantation by Joseph Hernandez, early Florida planter. George Washington, related to our first president, married Hernandez daughter, Louisa in 1844. They were given this land by Hernandez and remained here until 1856, developing the plantation and starting an orange grove. Louisa died in 1859, and George left, but returned in 1886, to live here the rest of his life. Purchased in 1936 by Mr. and Mrs. Owen D. Young, the gardens, groves, and plantings were expanded. In 1964, after Mr. Young’s death. Mrs. Young gave the property to the State. F-124. Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials. 1965.”