Using Native Plants To Blur The Line Between Park & Preserve

Native Plants
Rendering of the beach pavilion and dune restoration; courtesy Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach


When completed, the world-class 20-acre Phipps Ocean Park in Palm Beach will immerse visitors in an environment exclusively featuring Florida’s native flora and fauna and blur the line between expansive public park and a sustainable nature preserve. Raymond Jungles, FASLA, the landscape architect for the project, created a landscape design for the park that features 100% native plants to highlight the area’s past and showcase its commitment to a sustainable future. The goal for the project is to demonstrate on a large scale how native plants can be used to create beautiful, environmentally sustainable landscapes, and restore habitats for wildlife. Jungles was selected for the project for his firm’s focus on the preservation of natural ecosystems and the restoration of pre-existing ecologies.

Jungles recently spoke about the environmental imperative of restoring coastal biodiversity to the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, who are raising funds for the revitalization of Phipps Ocean Park. The conversation explored the importance of native plants and restoring ecosystems and how that fits in with traditional horticulture.

native plants
Rendering of Great Lawn and Little Red Schoolhouse; Courtesy Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach


Highlights of the Park include outdoor community spaces (a great lawn and a gathering area with nearly 20,000 square feet of open space), and a Coastal Restoration Center with 12,400 square feet of dedicated space for the propagation and growing of native species.

Phipps Ocean Park is comprised of varied ecosystems that connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Lake Worth Lagoon Estuary. One of the most urgent issues facing the coastal park is the removal of decades of invasive and exotic plant species, followed by the restoration and stabilization of the authentic biodiversity and natural dunes to ensure the resilience and sustainability of Palm Beach’s fragile coastline. Once completed, the park will broaden the reach of the Palm Beach Green Initiative, displaying lush native plants and offering a nursery program to continue to grow and plant new native coastal species for Phipps Ocean Park and gardens throughout the island.

Amanda Skier, President and CEO of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, commented, “We are overjoyed to have the expertise of Raymond Jungles and Fairfax & Sammons as we seek to reinforce the town’s green initiative and provide an example of how native plants can be used to create beautiful and ecologically sustainable gardens so that we can enjoy our beautiful natural resources now and long into the future.”  Fairfax & Sammons are the architects for the project.

Horticulture Highlights

As mentioned, Phipps Ocean Park is designed to be a cross between an expansive public park and a sustainable nature preserve. Some plant features include:

  • Coastal Restoration Center—Amid a thicket of trees and Coastal Strand vegetation will be a new 12,400-square foot Coastal Restoration Center for the growing and propagation of native plants for the park and town of Palm Beach. The center will include a 2,400-square-foot slat house inspired by the Neo-Classical style architecture of the area, with a modern interior that houses the nursery and a gathering space for education about environmental advocacy.
    Native Plants
    A wildflower garden and elevated walkway will be located at the western end of the Great Lawn; courtesy Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach


  • Wildflower Garden—A transformative space at the entrance to the park, it is located in the natural basin and will provide moisture for plants to survive without irrigation and be able to receive rainwater from nearby green spaces. The 13,000 square foot garden will include an elevated walkway to allow visitors to explore the space without disturbing the seasonal native flowers and grasses.
  • Rain Gardens –Creating a model for localized flood control, the 18,000 square foot parking lot will demonstrate how a parking lot can be integrated into the park’s design and mitigate stormwater runoff.
  • The Great Lawn—A broad open space that embraces the sky, The Great Lawn will accommodate groups of all sizes for community programming and recreational activities.
  • Dune & Mangrove Restoration—A vital example of Florida’s natural habitat, to the East the dune will protect the park from the ocean, while to the West the mangroves will provide protection and shelter from the Intracoastal Waterway.

Opening is planned for mid-2024.

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