When walking along North Shore Drive, NE one cannot help but notice the beautiful, lush palms and winding walkways of the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum.
Curious, I began to research this woman. Although not a lot was written about her, I learned that Ms. Kopsick was born in Austria-Hungary in 1877 and came to St. Petersburg in 1962. She was professional chef who worked for millionaire families, including the Goulds and Vanderbilts.
She followed the financial advice of her employers and invested well. In 1977 she gave away some of her wealth to establish the arboretum, a collection of rare palms. A few years earlier she donated several thousand dollars to dress Flora Wylie Park, also part of North Shore Park. In recognition, she received a key to the city and kisses from at least two St. Petersburg mayors.
Miss Kopsick died in St. Petersburg in 1980 at the age of 103.
The Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum is a two-acre park with drinking fountains, red brick walkways and conversation corners with wooden benches.
Over 500 palms and cycads are exhibited representing over 150 species from around the world. It is a continuing project and is overseen by the City Beautiful Commission in cooperation with St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation.
Many of the trees and bricks today are purchased through the generosity of individuals and organizations. For more information about the park and giving programs, call 727.893.7441 or visit www.stpeteparksrec.org