Head for Florida's Treasure Coast if you want to find some secret gardens that will delight! Starting in Fort Pierce with the Heathcote Botanical Garden, you'll find some real hidden treasure here when the James Smith Bonsai Garden opens in May this year. A charming small garden, immaculately tended by volunteers and soon to expand even further.
Head north and you'll find another magical hidden water garden at nearby Vero Beach - home to the McKee Botanical Gardens - with its fantastic lotus and lily displays in the summer months. This is another charming, small garden that was saved by local volunteers when the great Florida real estate boom happened back in the 70s. Thank heavens they saved McKee - it's a real gem!
There's more secret treasure to be discovered at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. This 15-acre garden is currently under restoration, but if you love palms, go out of your way to visit - because there's many species here that will open your eyes wide!
Further inland, but away from the theme parks, you'll find spring colour at Harry P. Leu Gardens on the shores of Lake Rowena in Orlando. A peaceful 50-acre haven amid this bustling city, with the largest collection of camellias on the East Coast of the US (sadly I missed them!), but don't worry if you're too late for the winter blooms, there's plenty more to see here during the rest of the year, and we saw some wonderful floral displays on our brief visit.
And for another hidden treasure, seek out Port d'Hiver in Melbourne - a magical bed and breakfast with views over the beach, beautifully decorated rooms and a breakfast to make you want to stay forever! This property is included in the Select Registry Collection and we'll certainly return if we head back to the East Coast of Florida. You can read full reviews on the gardens featured here by clicking on the links in the text.