Sunday, February 24, 2013

Places: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden




Last weekend I took advantage of the refreshing 60-degree weather to spend a peaceful hour at one of my favorite spots to visit in Miami: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (October through April are the best months to visit Miami and these are really the only months I like to be outdoors for long periods of time, as May through September can get extremely hot!). 

I like to think of Fairchild as one of Miami's hidden gems that I'd like to keep all to myself, but it is actually well known and becoming even more so in recent years. The number of exhibits and things to see and do there has grown over the years as well. The garden was founded in 1938 by Col. Robert H. Montgomery, who named it to honor his friend and renowned plant explorer, David Fairchild (1869-1954). In fact, many of the plants and trees that were brought back by Fairchild from his world travels can be found still growing in the Garden today, including a giant African baobab tree. 

Now, I am no gardening expert and can't even really say I have a green thumb (though I've managed to keep a few house plants alive), but I do have an appreciation for plants and for those who really know how to grow and care for them. Aside from all of the interesting varieties of plants you'll see here, the great allure of Fairchild Garden is its acres of land that offer a truly unspoiled, tropical oasis and brief escape from the traffic, crowds, noise and general chaos that comes with everyday life. Time spent there never fails to leave me feeling a bit calmer and more optimistic. 

Photograph of notecard I bought in the giftshop: artwork by Federico Carosio III, "Fairchild Garners" (Carosio Arts) 

I hope you will enjoy this little photographic "walking tour" which gives a glimpse of just the front portion of the Garden. (Sidenote: I used my small portable camera to take all of these photos and the morning light wasn't very bright, so apologies for some murky or less than crisp photos!) 

Pandanus Lake



Look out for gators! 




If forced to choose, I think my favorite tree in the garden would be the Rainbow Eucalyptus. From a distance it might not look all that special, aside from its towering height, but as you come closer you'll begin to notice the unique colors and pattern of its trunk. It is so different from the trees that I'm used to seeing--it almost looks like something man-made. It must be seen in person to fully appreciate. My photos don't do it justice! 




  




Banana tree in bloom 


Ibis crossing

In the distance is the entrance to the cactus and succulent garden

Vine Pergola 





The Jade Vine's flower has such an unusual shape and pretty blue-green color. I saw it once a few years ago but it wasn't blooming the last time I was there, so I'm so glad I was able to catch it this time. It's pretty interesting, don't you think? 



Brown Anole (lizard)


The Bengal Clock Vine has pretty lavender flowers. 
We used to have this type of vine on my fence at home years ago. I miss it! 


I'm so sorry I wasn't able to identify this vine. Does anyone know what it's called?  
2.26 Update: This is the Shower of Orchids Vine (thanks to Kate for identifying it!)


I wish this were my own backyard, but at least I can visit once in a while! 



Shehan Visitor Center



The garden is also available for weddings and events



A peaceful spot for a rest or a picnic 
I found this blossom on the bench shown in the photo above. Isn't it striking? 

    

The Floss Silk Tree is one of the more interesting trees you'll find in Florida. Check out those spikes!









The gift shop at Fairchild is an excellent resource for books on tropical gardening and also offers a great selection of unique, fun and beautiful souvenirs. I could easily spend an hour just looking around in there!

I think this is an owl but I'm not sure. Whatever it is, it's cute!
 





I love this tray! 

Of course I didn't make it out of the gift shop empty handed. Here's what came home with me:  

This shea butter soap by Michel Design Works is handmade in Sussex, England. It has the most gorgeous wrapper and an intoxicating floral scent. 


 
These note cards are some of the prettiest I've ever seen! I love birds and particularly tropical birds. I'm thinking of framing these to use them in a wall collage.


Clockwise from top left:   Scarlet macaw & Blue and yellow macaws, Edward Lear; Western tragopan, Joseph Wolf;  Scarlet-fronted parakeet, Xaverio Manetti; Sulphur-crested cockatoo, George Raper; Rose-ringed parakeet, Bob Young (John Reeves Collection); Common kingfisher, Bob Young (published by Archivist)
Notecard from Jonathan Wright and Company

I hope you enjoyed this look at Fairchild Garden and that it gives you a sense of the tranquility and natural beauty of the place. The garden is especially serene in the early morning hours and during the week, unless there is a special event happening. If you're ever in Miami and have an interest in plants or butterflies I highly recommend visiting. I did not walk throughout the entire garden on this visit and you'll find there is more to see than what I've shown here: There is a tram ride available, a 2-acre tropical rainforest, an edible garden, artwork and sculpture, and the Wings of the Tropics exhibit which opened in December, where thousands of butterflies, as well as hummingbirds, can be seen. There are also popular annual events, such as the International Mango Festival and Chocolate Festival where you can sample treats from around the world. 


Above are some photos from a visit a few years ago. At that time there was a Botero sculpture exhibit taking place and there was also some artwork by Roy Lichtenstein on display. There are three permanent displays of Dale Chihuly's beautiful blown glass sculpture at Fairchild.

Map by Marilyn Griffiths, 2006: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden


20 comments:

  1. What a beautiful place. I have visited Miami once or twice, but never been to these types of places. Looks wonderful.
    Girlie Blog Seattle | Casual Chic Fashion

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    1. Hi Girlie Blog, It's like a little slice of paradise and right next door is Matheson Hammock beach, where you can see the ocean :)

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  2. Hi Shannon,

    What an absolute feast for the eyes! I was thinking 'paradise' until I read the comment about the gators. Was there one in the photo? I was trying to tell, but wasn't sure! The Rainbow Eucalyptus was so cool... as well as the Ibis and bird notecards. I'll have to keep this on my Miami-to-do list if I ever visit Florida :-)

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    1. Hi Dovey, Thank you! :) actually I did not spot a gator that day, but I have always heard rumors that there are some in there, so as I was getting close to the water I was thinking: what if one comes up? I'd better be ready to run lol! I have seen lots of turtles and little fish and lots of very large iguanas, though :)

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing these amazing photographs! This is why I love your blog so much, it's a joy to go through. I didn't even knew the Eucalytus tree had these special striped and that spikey tree is so cool!

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    1. Hi Teri, Aw, thank you for the kind comment! :) I try to share the stuff I think is interesting or pretty and hope someone else will think so too :))

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  4. Oh, how lovely! Thank you so much for sharing these photos. I'm longing for lush greenery and signs of new life after a long, cold winter so your pictures were an absolute joy :) x

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    1. Hi Jane, Thank you! :) I'm so glad you liked them and I hope it gets warmer where you are soon! :) x

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  5. That's a truly gorgeous garden. I love the ibis. They're beautiful.

    The bird items, especially the maybe-owl, are cute.

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    1. Hi Iris, It's great to have Ibis around - there are quite a lot of them in Miami and I even see some in my own front yard from time to time :) I also love white egrets! :)

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  6. *sigh* What a beautiful, magical place! I've only been to Miami a few times but it was during the summers so we usually didn't spend much time outside, otherwise I would have LOVED to see this garden! Everything is so beautiful! Lovely pictures too, as always :)

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    1. Hi Becca, Thank you :) Hope you get a chance to come to Miami again and check it out and also right next door is Matheson Hammock which has a small beach and great views of the sea and windsurfers. :)

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  7. I always enjoy your lovely pictures.
    The pink vine's name might be Shower of Orchids .

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    1. Hi Kate, Thank you so much for identifying the vine, and for the kind comment! :)

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  8. Such serene and inspiring photos! Thanks for sharing them with us. I love nature (bio major in college) but there are many species of animals and plants I still don't know. It's nice to learn new things everyday.

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    1. Hi Paige, Thank you! :) I'm always amazed at the number of species there are and it's interesting to see the many plants that never existed in Florida but were brought back from countries on the other side of the world are now thriving in this hot & humid climate :)

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  9. Oh my.. That banana in bloom is soo beautiful! Your pictures warms my heart as always :)

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    1. Aw, thank you Memoiselle! You are kind :) Isn't that bloom amazing?

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  10. Beautiful! Just looking at the pictures have a calming effect without having been there. Thanks for sharing them with us. :)

    I love the mirroring of the first postcard with the shot of Pandanus Lake. Clever, you. ;) And your love of birds have sort of migrated to me as well. I'm finding them a lot more precious and interesting lately. All in all, glad you had such a nice relaxing day!

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    1. Thank you Liz! :) Great to hear you are enjoying birds more :) I guess photography is what sparked my interest in them because that's when I really started to pay more attention to them than I used to. It's kind of fun to see different species that aren't so common around here. :)

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Thanks for commenting!