November - April Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm; Sat 9am - 1pm
Summer, May - October, Mon-Fri 10am - 5pm
When the gate is locked, the garden can be entered through the adjacent library.
No admission fee
Added to JGarden:
Robert Cheetham, Philadelphia
This garden was originally reported to JGarden as including a Japanese garden, but in truth, it does not. However, it remains in the JGarden database for its age, the quality of its maintenance, the light it sheds on the motivations behind the construction of such gardens in the early 20th century and for the intriguing way in which it has been adapted to meet the needs of the local community.
The Society of the Four Arts was founded in 1936 by a group of Palm Beach residents who perceived a need for cultural institutions that had heretofore been absent from the community, and it remains today the premier arts organization in a community that now boasts several museums, libraries and other public arts groups. It was founded in the middle of the Great Depression to encourage the appreciation of art music, theatre and literature by mounting of exhibitions; hosting concerts, lectures and film; and the establishment of a public lending library. The original building was designed by local architect, Maurice Fatio and now houses the Four Arts Library. It is now just one among several structures that occupy two city blocks. The gardens adjoin this library building in a walled space that is bordered by Royal Palm Way and Four Arts Square. Other attractions on the Four Arts grounds include a Gallery building that hosts art exhibits, lectures and films; a sculpture; and a palm-lined mall centered on a Noguchi sculpture.
The Four Arts Gardens were built in 1938 as demonstration gardens to display the diversity of landscape possibilities available to homeowners in the tropical climate of South Florida. The seven Four Arts members responsible for creating these gardens were also members of the Palm Beach Garden Club. The constructed Tropical Fruit; Chinese (Mrs. Lorenzo Woodhouse); Fragrant Moonlight; Spanish Patio; British Colonial; Florida Jungle; and Formal Rose gardens. Each themed garden is accented with an appropriate facade or statuary to indicate the architectural style with which it was intended to be watched. The gardens are arranged into interlocking courtyards with the Chinese Garden being the most prominent.
In 1954 landscape architect, Richard K. Webel prepared a master plan that substantially altered teh intent of the gardens. Over the next several years, the separate parts of the garden were gradually replanted to weave together a single, larger garden. This remained the case until the 1990's when the Four Arts made a decision to return to the original intent of small demonstration gardens to assist local homeowners with their own garden design projects. The gardens have therefore reversed their trend toward integration to some extent, though this remains a relatively mature tropical garden that highlights a plethora of specimen plants. It is a quiet place, appropriate for its location next to a library and offers several pleasant reading benches. The Chinese and 'Jungle' gardens are the most interesting. The former is dominated by a stone-line pond a fountain bisected by a stone bridge and stocked with koi. The latter is perhaps the most 'Japanese' in appearance with stone paths and isolation from the other, more open courtyards. The whole site in filled with interesting specimens including: bamboo, palms, phylodenddron, bromeliads and huge 'sausage tree' (Kigelia pinnate) from Africa.
While there, I was told by some Palm Beach locals that the gardens and library were recently threatened by construction of a shopping mall. Local residents objected, and the site is safe, at least for now.
The gardens are located about five minutes from I-95. Take the Okeechobee Blvd East exit (52A) toward Palm Beach. Take Okeechobee across the Intercoastal Waterway, where it turns into Royal Palm Way. Four Arts Plaza is just past the bridge, on the left.
Please note that winter is high season here, with most of the e