Sunken Gardens is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Florida, dating back almost 100 years. It began as a small lake, about 15 feet deep, that had been formed when rainwater collected in an old sinkhole. In 1903, St Pete plumber George Turner bought the property and drained the lake, leaving behind a thick layer of pond muck that was perfect for growing plants. An avid gardener, Turner began collecting exotic plants and arranging them within the sinkhole. Neighbors began asking to walk around in his garden, and in the 1920's Turner fenced the sinkhole in and began charging admission to Sunken Gardens. It thrived, and was often listed as one of Florida's top ten tourist attractions. In 1967, the Turner family bought the Coca Cola bottling plant next door and converted it into a gift shop for the Gardens and a wax museum. In the 1970's, however, when Disney World began to dominate the Florida tourist trade, admissions declined, and Sunken Gardens was losing money. By the 1990's, the Turner family was looking for a buyer, and the City of St Pete purchased Sunken Gardens in 1999, as a historical landmark. It is now run by the city using local volunteers.
I'm not up on my plant identifications, and I didn't record all the ID tags that are scattered throughout the Gardens. So I'm not able to identify the plants here, other than to note that they come from all over the world--I remember plants from China, Cameroon, Brazil . . . . Perhaps there are some amateur botanists out there who can help out? :)