Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden, Key West's Hidden Gem

Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden, Key West’s Hidden Gem

Hidden at the end of narrow Freeschool Lane is the last remaining acre of undeveloped land in Key West’s historic Old Town. How this priceless parcel escaped development is nothing less than a miracle, but even more miraculous is the tropical rainforest that today grows upon the site. This is Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden, a virtual oasis where, for a $10 entrance fee, visitors can walk among orchids, Bromeliads, ferns and more than 150 species of palms, including several rare, near-extinct species of palm. Scattered amongst the trees and plants are Mana’s rescue birds: colorful parrots, macaws, and cockatoos that squawk from perches in their cages, competing for attention.

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden Key West

Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden Key West

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden Key West

Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden Key West

For 40 years, Nancy Forrester has been tending this garden and inviting the public to share in her love of the plants and animals. Unfortunately, this may soon change. Realizing she could no longer afford to personally shoulder the expense of the garden, she recently transferred its stewardship to the Mana Project, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization created specifically for this task.

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden Key West

Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden Key West

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden Key West

Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden Key West

For her 70th birthday last week, in lieu of gifts, Nancy requested donations to continue the legacy of the garden. So far, the donations have been few and the fate of the garden is uncertain. At the moment, however, Nancy continues to run the day-to-day operations under the auspices of the Mana Project, hoping for a miracle that will save it for future generations.

With my time in Key West coming to a close, I made it a point to visit the garden. During my visit, in addition to wandering the dirt paths winding through the lush vegetation, I was fortunate to meet Nancy and spend a couple of hours with her.

That she loves the plants and her parrots is evident, as is her determination to save the land from the roar of the bulldozer that could turn this natural wonder into nine vacation homes. I wish her well and dearly hope the community will support her effort to protect this hidden jewel in the heart of Key West.

6 Comments on “Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden, Key West’s Hidden Gem

  1. Our nursery is dedicated to the production of Bromeliads.

    We specialise in Tillandsia (Air Plants)

    Bromeliads have become widespread in gardens all around the world.They have become increasingly popular for gardeners as generally they need minumum care and produce eye catching results.
    Bromeliads provide the most amazing collection of foliage colours and patterns found in the plant kingdom.

    Our dedication to Tillandsias (Air Plants) has made us a stand-out nursery and one which is frequented by people all over Australia.

    Our nursery is located in the picturesque area of Byron Bay.
    We are situated in Tandy’s Lane(adjacent to Uncle Tom Pies;Old pacific Hwy) Mullumbimby.
    We have a dedicated retail section that is definetly worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

  2. Wow what an article, i live in the uk and what this lady has done is just amazing landmark is just great and because someone wants to build homes, this great garden will become nothing, i really do hope it stays open because these gardens show the really US and the real beauty of key west.

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  4. Thank you for your blog entry concerning Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden. Nancy is a very dear friend and mentor and I could not ever be the same person today if I had never met her. Again, thank you very much!!

    Joe A. Frankie

  5. Yes, I believe there is a donate option on the Mana Project website, which can be found by clicking on the link in the above article. Nancy would be very grateful for any donations.

  6. I am sorry I missed this treasure on my last trip to the Keys. Is there a way to make donations online?

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