Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jungle Gardens of Avery Island - 4/28/15

Jungle Gardens is an 170-acre flora and fauna sanctuary that was initially founded in 1895 by Edward McIlhenny (the founder of Tabasco Pepper Sauce) when he captured and raised eight wild egrets. When they were ready to migrate, McIlhenny freed them and they returned the following year and every year thereafter. The Gardens are committed to the preservation and study of flora and fauna from around the world.

After the Tabasco Factory Tour, we drove the short distance the Jungle Gardens Visitor Center. Here we paid our admission ($8/adult) and obtained a map of the three-mile driving tour.

There are 15 stops along the tour (and an audio program that can be accessed via your cell phone) for each. The first stop has Southern Live Oak trees that are prominent throughout the park. They are just gorgeous!

Bayou Petit Anse and Marsh Trail is where we saw our first alligator of the day.

And egrets.

And turtles.

The Boat House was built by McIlhenny for his friend, Charles Willis Ward, who had a 70' motorboat.
Venetian Gardens.

This oak tree is named for President Grover Cleveland when he visited the McIlhenny family in 1891. It is 300+ years old. Down the road from this huge oak is the Holly Arch.

From the Cleveland Oak we followed the path to the Buddha's Temple and lagoon in front of it.

The Buddha was built for the Shonfa Temple, northeast of Peking, by the order of Emperor Hui Tsung (1101-1125). It was looted by a rebel militant in the 20th century and sent to New York to be sold. It was purchased by friends and given to E. A. McIlhenny as a gift in 1936.

This area is known as Bird City. The first aviary was built over 100 years ago and today this area is home to thousands of egrets, herons, other water fowl and wildlife.

I loved seeing the oaks, palms, and alligator in this area as well.

Bamboo was imported from China and can be seen in many locations throughout the gardens.

We felt these gardens were definitely worth the $8/per admission price. The waterfowl alone are spectacular. And the Buddha temple in this location was a totally unexpected surprise (and delight!) It  is in a beautifully serene setting. Be sure to explore the pathways that can be found at multiple spots (illustrated on the map that is provided when you pay your admission fee at the visitors center). The one-way scenic drive makes it very easy to enjoy the many sites that can be seen here. Kudos to the McIlhenny family for creating this piece of paradise at Avery Island.


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