Interested in innovative ideas for your landscape? Need a mini getaway? Now is a great time to visit the Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden, located in the courtyard of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Hillsborough County office in Seffner near the I-4/I-75 interchange. This teaching garden is named for Bette Walker, the first executive director of the Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers, a past professional association of nurserymen/women who provided seed money and plant materials to showcase the horticulture industry and educate the public.

“I love to visit the garden. There is always some new plant to see and try in my own yard. I usually have questions galore for the Master Gardeners and staff. They do a fabulous job in maintaining the garden and have answers ready for me,” said Walker.

Although Bette isn’t with us anymore, I believe she is visiting gardens everywhere.

While small in scale, the Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden features a collection of six themed gardens which convey landscape design and maintenance ideas based entirely on the nine principles of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program. These principles include right plant/right place, water efficiently, mulch, recycle yard waste, fertilize appropriately, control yard pests responsibly, reduce stormwater runoff, attract wildlife and protect the waterfront.

The garden rooms are named Florida-Friendly, Asian Influence, Wildlife Habitat, Backyard BBQ, Sensory and Water Features. Each garden has its own landscape theme and function. For example, one of the water gardens simulates a natural lake or pond and is aquascaped with several Florida-native plants. Recycled products, various types of pervious surfaces, mulches, plant materials and microirrigation are showcased. Both Florida-native and non-native adaptive plants are included.

There are several other reasons to stop by our office: We have a gorgeous perennial garden and a pollinator garden created by Girl Scouts; there is a Master Gardener volunteer on duty who can answer your questions and you can submit a soil sample for testing at a nominal cost. Please check our calendar of events for upcoming programs at:

Discovery Garden group tours can be scheduled by calling Michael at 813-744-5519, ext. 54146. Individual garden strolls need not be scheduled. The garden is open from 8:15 a.m.-4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Extension Office is located at 5339 County Rd. 579 in Seffner. Whet your gardening appetite. Hope to see you strolling here soon!

Contact Lynn Barber at

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