Cedar Lakes, Woods, and Gardens Nature Preserve:
A Japanese Botanical Garden in North Central Florida
I drove the winding dirt track through the Williston property, rounding the carved out limestone pits, abandoned by time, and through the knoll of trees up to the little parking area. We found ourselves in a cowfield- literally. The munching heifers paused chewing their cud to stare at our intrusion into their peace, as if to say: this is our home–go away.
We left the car and followed the little path to the tiny cabin outpost, where Cedar Lakes, Woods, and Gardens employee, Lori, introduced us and a couple of other intrepid explorers to the hidden Japanese botanical garden. I had once watched the movie, Lost Horizon, based on the James Hilton novel, where the plane crashes on a snowy mountain and the survivors seek shelter in a cave that ends up leading them to a warm tropical paradise where no one ever ages. I think that may be what Dr. Ray Webber had in mind when he set out to create his botanical paradise in the 100 year old abandoned limestone pits just outside of the sleepy north central Florida town of Williston.
Lori informed us that the former DDS just wanted a place to fish, which inspired his 23 years of labor: stone by stone, shovel by shovel of cement, creating the labyrinth paths, secret grottoes, islands, waterfalls and pagodas of Cedar Lakes, Woods, and Gardens. Hundreds of colorful plants crowd the paths and tiny spaces of this exotic garden. With swinging bridges, a wooden hammock and Koi pond stocked with giants, a trip through the Japanese Botanical Garden is a vivid tour of color not easily forgotten.
Cedar Lakes, Woods, and Gardens is located at: 4990 NE 180th Ave, Williston, Florida 32696
Check out the YouTube video of our recent excursion there:
Things to Know Before You Go:
- Admission is: Adults $12, Children $7. Under 6 free.
- Due to the countless steps, this is not a wheelchair or stroller accessible place.
- Not recommended for small wandering kids, but more mature kids will love the paths, bridges and swans, and of course, relaxing in that island hammock.
- While there are no concessions at this attraction (they do sell water though!), the Ivy House located in a rambling old historic house in downtown Williston, is known for it’s southern cuisine and charm. 106 NW Main Street. Williston, Florida 32696
If you haven’t seen the short Christmas Gift Meditation from Cedar Lakes, Woods & Gardens from earlier this week, check it out! Seriously 1.5 minutes of waterfall meditation that is guaranteed to relax (or maybe just make you want to pee!).
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