Sunken Gardens is one of the places I have known about and wanted to visit but never made the effort. It did fall into disrepair and the city of St. Petersburg took ownership. It is maintained but you can see the effects of budget cuts. The butterfly house was empty and there were only 3 flamingos. But it was still enjoyable and I got plenty of photos.
OP rsvp'd late so I doubt Mike realized he would be there. But everything seemed to go well enough. I think it helped that OP knew Mike was sensitive to his sarcasm and probably kept it in check. Also, OP chose to walk with Jeff and Gary and not with Mike and Allen.
The temperature was cool and breezy that morning but it was warmer in the park. Many of the trees and shrubs were old and tall which blocked most of the wind. I say most because the flowers tended to move every time I wanted to take a shot.
I brought my tripod but forgot my plate so I let Doyle tote it around in his cart. There wasn't much I needed a tripod for. There were so very small fountains with falls over rocks. After being up north, it didn't seem worth the effort to set up to smooth the water.
The flamingos were cool. It was nice to get so close. There were some beautiful parrots but the mesh on the cages was to tight to try to get any shots.
I had forgotten to get a new woodling to replace Chip and his missing foot so I had to use the small one. Because of the rod I cannot remove, he is harder to pose. Doyle suggested to flower between his legs.
The place was smaller than I expected but it was noon when we had finished. OP, Allen and Mike were gone by then. We talked about lunch. Panera was across the street but Jeff suggested Ted's Montana Grille. He gave us the address and we all left to drive only to find that Ted's was not there. We ended up back at a crowded Panera.