Exploring Kraft Azalea Garden in Winter Park, FL

When the conference ended on Thursday there was still a little daylight left, and I wanted to get some fresh (warm) air. I can’t stand being cooped up in a hotel.  I’d spotted the Kraft Azalea Garden on the map, and it was located at the edge of the large lake in Winter Park, only a few blocks from the restaurant I was returning to that night.

The garden, with its tall old trees draped in Spanish Moss, was much grander than I expected.

Kraft Azalea Garden Winter Park FL | The Borrowed Abode

It also looked incredibly peaceful as I arrived, but when I stepped out of the car there was such a racket coming from the trees above me.  I stood staring up at the trees, trying to find the source of the noise.  I saw nothing but branches, leaves, and moss.

Suddenly a majestic white bird swooped out of the trees and across the road.  And then I saw it:  the trees were filled with dozens of beautiful Snowy Egrets, all nesting and squabbling with each other.Kraft Azalea Garden Snowy Egret | The Borrowed Abode Kraft Azalea Garden Winter Park FL04

The birds were mesmerizing, and it amazed me how all the seemingly local visitors barely took a second look at them.

When I tore myself away from birdwatching to wander through the other 5 acres, it was such a treat to see azalea bushes blooming in the middle of winter, and even more fun to see them juxtaposed against the Spanish moss that covered everything.

Kraft Azalea Garden Winter Park FL02Sunset was approaching and the light was phenomenal; everything seemed to be glowing.Kraft Azalea Garden Winter Park FL03At the end of my visit I was treated to a close-up peek at one of the birds.  It was gathering a twig from the ground, then flying it up to add to the nest.

Snowy Egret Kraft Azalea Garden | The Borrowed Abode

Once it landed in the nest (last photo above), I watched as the bird carefully jabbed the stick against the others, trying it over and over, until he had woven it around the other branches just right.

Watching the bird’s movements and multiple attempts, I became aware of just how hard he was thinking as he worked to build his nest.  I think sometimes we forget just how intelligent other creatures are.

(If you want to see more of these amazing birds, check out this gallery of the Great White Egret Chicks!)

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  • Reply Funnelcloud Rachel at 9:42 am

    Nest building – a true DIY! So appropriate for your blog and so fascinating – love the pics!

    • Reply Jane at 11:09 am

      Lol. You’re absolutely right! That bird was into hardcore DIY. 🙂

  • Reply Ash @ HumberHomeProject at 10:36 am

    this is so neat! What a fun little unexpected adventure. Getting to see the bird build its nest? That’s awesome!
    I totally geek out over bonus discoveries like this on vacations 🙂 One time, in Disney, I spent an hour watching a turtle & some fish swim next to me while I ate breakfast at our hotel. I was just sucked in!

    The “glowing” picture is very cool, too – I love it! 🙂

    • Reply Jane at 11:09 am

      I would absolutely sit there watching the turtle and fish too 🙂 It’s especially neat to see things like that when you’re surrounded by craziness like Disney world!

  • Reply Melissa at 1:56 am

    That sounds so amazing! Your pictures are great, especially the egret in flight and nesting.

    • Reply Jane at 11:10 am

      Thanks! You would have loved it too, I think!!

  • Reply Corri at 10:23 pm

    Glad you had such a great time at Kraft Azalea Park – I actually got married there years ago and it was perfect! Another amazing local garden is Leu Gardens… there are a lot of little hidden treasures among the tourist traps.

    • Reply Jane at 11:38 pm

      Corri, what a beautiful wedding location! I have heard someone else mention Leu, so it’s on the list for next time!

  • Reply Places I’d Love to Live: FloridaThe Borrowed Abode | The Borrowed Abode at 11:23 am

    […] home overlooked the Kraft Azalea Garden, and thus had prime viewing of the lake and the Great Egrets.  […]

  • Reply Travel tips for business traveler | The Borrowed Abode: Decorating a rental home at 9:28 am

    […] I’m in Altamonte Springs, but that town is boring so I drive 10 min to Winter Park for good food, awesome parks, and beautiful neighborhoods to walk in.  It’s a hidden gem amongst the Disney-fied spread of […]

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