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500 Gardens (Public Gardens):

FLOR500 invites 500 schools and libraries from across the state's 67 counties plant 500 wildflower gardens and dedicate them to one of 500 important Floridians (selected by a team of historians) featured on this website. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to develop skills in art, history, and nature as they participate in celebrating 500 years of Florida.

Review the FLOR500 list of featured honorees in the their region and select a historic figure they want to honor when they plant their public wildflower garden.

For Title: Enter the NUMBER and NAME of Honoree from list,
For First Image: Enter MAIN Garden photo,
Add Credit Line for Photos if needed


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Rev. Atkins

Posted By Trenton R. Saunders, Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reverend Joel Aktins is a Florida native that lived to the age of 75, and a person who had a vast impact of the civil rights movement occurring in Winter Haven Florida. He was a public figure that fought for the equality of civil rights for employment in Polk County. He also desegregated the schools in Polk County. Reverend Aktins was a pastor at the Zion Baptist church for 41 years and served equal rights with his life. 


I chose to dedicate this garden in this area because I think a lot of students and athletes don’t realize how far society has become because of figures like Rev. Atkins.  The Saac has hundreds of people coming through it every day, these people are mostly athletes that will impact society because of their images.   The spot the garden is located in is to remind us that the ability for people of all races and ethnicities are at this university because of the desegregation that took place 40 years ago. 


Reverend Joel Atkins influenced me to be all that I can be and to fight for what you believe is right.  Understanding that the privileges I have were not free is something I will not ever look over upon again.  Reverend Atkins is some one that we should all appreciate and give our gratitude to. The people that become doctors, lawyers and etc, should always know that their education was not paid for with money but with hard work and dedication.


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352 - Jonathan Dickinson

Posted By Amy P. Perez, Thursday, April 24, 2014
Garden For Jonathan Dickinson at Crandon Park, Miami:
6747 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149

Jonathan Dickinson (1663-1722)


Jonathan Dickinson was a Quaker born in Port Royal, Jamaica. During his sailing, his ship was wrecked along southeast the coastline of Florida, where he, his wife and son, and ten of their slaves were then stranded. They were found and held captive by the Jaega Indians and eventually made the physically and mentally abusive trip up to Saint Agustine, Florida; five members died along the way. Dickinson and his remaining group members were greeted by Spanish authorities and there, they were treated for their injuries and set on their way to Charlestown (now Charleston) South Carolina, and from there set sail to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


I have chosen to place Jonathan Dickinson’s memorial here at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne because it is a public park where visitors come to spend their time, and Dickinson’s memorial would be easily noted and appreciated by many there. However, I chose this destination because Crandon Park is also a beach, and the memorial is close to the ocean. Originally, Dickinson arrived at Miami by sailboat, and I thought it most fitting that his garden be placed somewhere near the ocean. Dickinson’s intention was to sail from Jamaica, whence he came, to Pennsylvania, where the Quakers thrived, mostly. Placing Dickinson’s memorial near the water helps viewers to understand his voyage and arrival here in Florida, and gives them the opportunity to delve into his rich history. The memorial for Dickinson at Crandon Park is ideal, as he is always nearest the water.

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GARDEN 382 Dr. Howard Thurman, Civil Rights Leader

Posted By Gabriela Roque-Velasco, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Epiphany Catholic School

5557 SW 84 Street 

Miami, FL 33143



Dr. Howard Thurman, November 18, 1899-April 10, 1981, born in Daytona Beach Florida. A self made man graduated with honors from Morehouse College and the Colgate Rochester Divinity School. Thurman extended his ministry by serving as Director of Religious Life at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. He was selected as the first dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University.

Throughout his career, Thurman traveled heading missionary trips. One of his most memorable was a meeting with Mahatma Ghandi, where Ghandi told him he regretted not having made nonviolence more visible as a practice worldwide and suggested some American black men would succeed where he had failed. He left his post at Howard University, to establish the Church of the Fellowship of All People in San Francisco, the first racially integrated church in the United States. Dr. Thurman was invited to Boston University, and became the first black person to be named tenured Dean of chapel at a majority white university.

A prolific writer, Thurman wrote about 20 books of ethical and cultural criticism. His books influenced leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, such as Martin Luther King Jr. He later served as spiritual advisor to Martin Luther king Jr. Howard Thurman left a legacy. Thurman was named honorary Canon of the Cathedral of Saint john Divine. He was named one of the 50 most important figures in African-American history. Life magazine named him one of the 12 most important religious leaders in the United States. 

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141 Hernando de Soto

Posted By maria nunez, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who participated in the conquests of Central America and Peru and discovered the Mississippi River.

De Soto arrived on the west coast of Florida on May 30, 1539 with 10 ships carrying over 600 soldiers to look for silver and gold and they also where exploring the area. Hernando De Soto died during the explorations and was buried on the banks of the Mississippi River in late June 1542.

I decided to plant the seed in name of this explorer; I planted in a public garden because what he died deserves to be in a public place where everyone can have contact with it. The place is public, near a little lake, which can be a representation of the Mississippi River that he discovered and who was the first documented to crossed it.

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Garden 487: John B. Pennekamp

Posted By Melissa Cubas, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park 102601 Overseas Highway (MM 102.5) Key Largo, FL 33037

FLOR500 Gardens

Melissa Cubas


John D. Pennekamp was known for his work as a newspaper editor and a conservationist in the South Florida Region.  Although he began working as a newspaper writer, he devoted much of his free time to conservation and environmental causes in Florida.  Aside from his efforts in conserving the Everglades from overdevelopment, Pennekamp also opened a 75-mile onshore and offshore sea park in Key Largo, which was named John D. Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Pennekamp moved from his birthplace of Cincinnati, Ohio to Miami when he was 28 years old to work for the Miami Herald, where he worked for fifty years as a newspaper editor, managing editor, and daily columnist.  When Pennekamp helped open the Everglades National Park in 1947, Key Largo was not included in those boundaries of the Everglades National Park.  By 1950, citizens of Key Largo began to grow concern for the conservation of the coral reefs of the area.  Being the first chairman of the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials, Pennekamp used his credentials to lobby for the park’s creation.  By 1963, the park was opened and dubbed the area a state-controlled park and coral reefs off the Key Largo shore, a historic landmark and permanent preserve.

Many of us Floridians are familiar with the underwater statue of Jesus Christ in all His glory, surrounded by thousands of colorful fish and coral reefs.  I am lucky enough to spend almost every weekend in the keys with my boyfriend and his family who live just one mile marker away from John D. Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, so I saw fit to plant my seeds in the state park.  When entering John D. Pennekamp state park, there are tons of beautiful greenery and the ocean just a few steps in.  But I was walked, I noticed a small area that seemed overlooked by conservationist, so in my efforts to act as Pennekamp would, I decided to plant my seeds in the area that could use it.  Having visited the park multiple times, I was proud to engage in my conservationist acts and attempt to make the park even more beautiful.

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