Southeast Florida

Mounts Botanical Garden: Art from sea debris in a lovely garden

Priscilla the Parrot Fish is made out of plastic toys, buoys, toothbrushes and other recycled plastic garbage picked up on beaches. The sculpture is one of 10 on exhibit at Mounts Botanical Garden until June 3, 2018.

Priscilla the Parrot Fish is made out of plastic toys, buoys, toothbrushes and other recycled plastic garbage picked up on beaches. The sculpture is one of 10 on exhibit at Mounts Botanical Garden until June 3, 2018. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Mounts Botanical Garden is not the biggest or most famous garden in Florida, but it packs a lot in a small space.

Its current special exhibit “Washed Ashore, Art to Save the Sea” makes it an especially appealing stop this winter. (The exhibit continues until June 3, 2018.)

Because Mounts began as a demonstration garden, it is full of informative labels and practical tips on how to apply what you see to your own garden.

Marine Debris Anemone is made of water bottles and other beverage bottle garbage. It's on exhibit at Mounts Botanical Gardens.. (Photo: Bonnie Gross

Marine Debris Anemone is made of recycled water bottles and other beverage bottle garbage. It’s on exhibit at Mounts Botanical Gardens in West Palm Beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

On our recent visit, however, the stars of the garden were the 10 delightful giant sculptures of sea creatures that comprise the “Washed Ashore” exhibition.

The pieces, handmade, some as large as 15 feet long and 10 feet wide, are all assembled from recycled debris gathered on Pacific beaches. It’s a project of Oregon artist and educator Angela Haseltine Pozzi, who has created a non-profit organization that has recycled tons of plastic pollution from beaches and created dozens of monumental works of art.  (More about Washed Ashore.)

Two humpback whale sculptures are on exhibit in Washed Ashore. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Two humpback whale sculptures are on exhibit in Washed Ashore. They are made of recycled plastic debris gathered from beaches.  (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The special exhibition is surprisingly impressive.  When I read that it was sculptures made out of debris found along the beaches, I pictured something you’d see at a school science fair.

But these truly are clever works of art. You can’t help but be fascinated by the artistry, how the artist used a mass of bottle caps or shredded plastic bottles or same-color flip-flops to create creatures from the ocean.

Even adults have fun examining the sculptures to find the items listed on the signage. For example: Can you find golf balls? Did you spot the toy truck tire or the oil cans or how the shiny fish scales are flattened beer can tops? (Kids would love this.)

The sculptures accomplish their purpose:  They delight us but they also make us think about all the plastic we use and what becomes of it.

The tropical forest garden at Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The tropical forest garden at Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Beyond the special exhibition, there are many features that make Mounts Garden a worthwhile visit any time.  My favorite areas were the butterfly garden aflutter with butterflies, the new water garden of aquatic plants and small waterfalls, the vegetable garden and finding out the names of all the trees and plants I see in Florida but never can identify.

Downsides? The garden is adjacent to the Palm Beach airport so the jets overhead reduce the sense of serenity.

Windows on the Floating World is a tropical wetland garden with waterfalls and aquatic plants. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Windows on the Floating World is a tropical wetland garden with small waterfalls and aquatic plants. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Mounts Botantical Garden of the Palm Beaches

531 N Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL

(561) 233-1757

Tickets are normally $10 for adults but during the special exhibit of Washed Ashore tickets are:

  • Adults 12 and older: $15
  • Veterans: $10
  • Children 5-12: $5
  • Members of Mounts & children 4 and under: Free

Note: You can bring a picnic. There were a number of picnic tables as well as a covered screened shelter.

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Flash the Marlins, who is made of many reflective items found on beaches, such as sunglasses, beer cans and bottles. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Flash the Marlins, who is made of many reflective items found on beaches, such as sunglasses, beer cans and bottles. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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