A beauty spot in Tallahassee north of downtown, Dorothy B. Oven Park encompasses a set of historic gardens surrounding a 1930s manor home.
Walk the trails around and through the gardens to enjoy some serious elevation changes, or simply settle onto a park bench to enjoy the beauty of the blooms.
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Length: 0.6 mile loop
Trailhead: 30.491913, -84.253774
Address: 3205 Thomasville Rd, Tallahassee, FL 32308
Restroom: at the manor house
Land manager: City of Tallahassee
Open 7 AM to 11 PM daily.
Follow Thomasville Road south from Interstate 10 for 0.7 mile. The park entrance is on the left just before the big adjoining nursery.
A walk through Dorothy Oven Park is a soothing balm when the air is filled with the scents of spring.
Home to Breckenridge Gamble, who founded Tallahassee’s first nursery – the Camellia Nursery of Tallahassee – in the 1920s, it showcases well-established camellias along garden paths.
If the manor home looks suspiciously like the one at MacLay Gardens State Park, that’s because Alfred MacLay designed both homes.
He and Gamble were long-time friends. Gamble’s great-grandfather Colonel Robert Gamble brought the first camellia to Florida in 1829.
In 1919, it was transplated to the MacLay’s estate, Killearn Plantation. Breckenridge Gamble helped MacLay find the camellias you see at the state park gardens today.
Surrounding the 1936 home in the middle of this park, gardens flow downhill in every direction from the top of this high hill.
The formal Camellia Garden out front was designed by the Camellia and Garden Club of Tallahassee. They used aged bricks to circle the fountain in a repeating spiral.
The bright orange blooms of Florida flame azalea and the soft pinks of pinxter azalea draw your attention as the camellias begin to fade. Both are native to this region.
Follow the pathway through the Camellia Gardens to walk down past the water tower and the stands of bamboo.
The trails lead downhill to the edge of a pond, where turtles like to sun on the fallen logs. An alligator lives in that cypress-lined pond, too.
A back gate allows the adjoining neighborhood to enjoy a garden walk. More flower beds are along the hillside back up to the manor.
Alongside the entrance road where you came in is a small cascade garden where the water burbles over rocks past planted flower beds.
In all, it’s less than a mile of walking to loop the park and gardens. Enjoy the quiet spaces you find within to spend some contemplative time among the blossoms and birds.
See our photos of Dorothy B. Oven Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
In late winter, azaleas create ribbons of bright color beneath the live oak canopy across the grounds of Maclay Gardens, a series of formal gardens along the hillsides sweeping down to Lake Hall.
A clearing in the deep forest along the north shore of Lake Jackson reveals a civilization long gone from the face of Florida, the site protected as Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park.
Although this rugged little nature trail at Mission San Luis doesn’t top a half mile, it gives you a good excuse to go play in the woods in Tallahassee—and learn about Florida’s history