About the Gardens

We currently provide tours, service learning projects, education workshops and internship opportunities at Henry Nehrling’s Palm Cottage Gardens.

Nehrling Gardens is the former home of famed horticulturalist Henry Nehrling, who purchased the property in 1885 to establish a garden where he could experiment with tropical and subtropical plants year round. It is located in Gotha, Florida, a small community near Orlando that was founded by German Americans in the 1870s. The 1880s Florida wood frame vernacular style home and semi-detached kitchen were moved by ox-cart to the site in the early 1900s, when Nehrling moved his family to Florida.

This particular garden was one of Florida’s earliest experimental botanical gardens where Dr. Nehrling tested over 3,000 new and rare plants for the Bureau of Plant Industry, now known as the USDA. By the early 1900s it was a popular destination for thousands of tourists, nature lovers, and new Florida settlers. Many prominent people of the era, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Theodore Mead and Dr. David Fairchild, marveled at the garden and celebrated Nehrling’s extraordinary work.

Of the 40 plus acres purchased by Henry Nehrling between 1885 and 1897, only the 6-acre homestead site remains; a portion of which extends into Lake Nally. Specimens of the original 100-year old tree canopy and many of his plantings still exists as well as the original home – a charming and authentic example of pioneer Florida life.

The Henry Nehrling Society was formed in 1999 in order to save and purchase the property – a mission that was accomplished in 2009. Now, the gardens are owned and operated by the non-profit corporation’s volunteer board and staff.

Today, Nehrling Gardens continues to enrich our lives as a community resource and education center focused on historic preservation, horticultural education and environmental conservation.