"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden -- Part One

What would be the best Mother's Day gift for a mother who loves gardening?  How about some nice plants and a garden visit?  Well, I got both this Mother's Day! 

I have been hearing a lot of nice things about Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden since I started my gardening passion one short year ago.  The garden is located in Miami, about 45 minutes drive south from where I live.   I never visited there even my husband and I had lived in Miami for about 6 years when we both studied there as international graduate students.  I have been talking about visiting the garden for a while, but with busy working schedule during the week days, and equaly busy weekends, the visit just remained in the talk until this weekend.

This past Sunday was the Mother's Day.  Since kids had Sunday Chinese school, my husband and two boys decided to fulfill my wish on Saturday.  So, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, here I come!

As soon as we entered the gate, this was what greeted us.  This kind of setting of massive bromeliads, palms and cycads is being seen everywhere in the garden.

Fairchild is not only a garden dedicated to conservation and education, it also serves as a backdrop for the art works from all over the world.

This three pumpkins are created by Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama with her signature polka dots.  Although it is a little too modern to my taste, but it is something unique of this garden.   I saw lots of other Art works spreaded around in the garden.
Art work by Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama
This is a fountain near the South Entrance.  The Cobalt Herons are made by American Artist Dale Chihuly.  They were formed by blowing glass.  I found it fits this setting quite well.
Cobalt Herons by American Artist Dale Chihuly:
Here is one of the water plants in the fountain with very cheerful flowers and beautiful leaves.  Anybody recognizes it? I can not find a plant label near by.

Fairchild has wide collection of palms and cycads. Here is the cycad circle that contains about 315 species  with more than 700 accessioned plants. All cycads are considered to be threatened with extinction.

Cycad Circle 1
Cycad Circle 2
Their palm collection is situated around the lake.  What a serene view it is! 

Palm collection around the lake
This large Jacaranda Cuspidifolia is in full bloom with its lavender flowers.  It is so distinct in its surroundings that I was immediately drawn into it.
Jacaranda Cuspidifolia
A closeup of its flowers...

The weather was very hot and humid. Boys wanted to get on the tram to get an easy tour first (I had to go back to take a closer look and took lots of pictures of the plants later).  When we got off the tram, I gasped at this giant live oak tree.

Its branches are packed with so many air plants, bromeliads, orchids and staghorn ferns. It is just a magic tree for me.

I found myself can not help keeping snapping the pictures of so many beautiful plants. Lots of them I have never seen, and let alone to know the names.  Thanks to the label system of the garden, I am able to show you with a name for most of the plants.  (After coming home, I found some of the label picture I took does not match the plant that I thought the name is for.  With the plants tightly packed, it is so easy to confuse the label when it is not directly put on the plant itself, especially for a new gardener like me.)

This flower attracts me by its bright color, and unique shape.  The texture of the flower appears to me very wax like.   I thought the common name of "Gold Finger" is very interesting.
Juanulloa Mexicana (Common Name: Gold Finger)

Bromeliads are all around the garden.  Every corner I turned, I can see some of their stunning blooms or the foliage.
Bromeliad Aechmea 'Blue Tango'

I have the exact same one as shown below in my garden.  It now has a pup growing next to the mother plant.  Hmmm.., wondering how many years it will take for mine to grow like this? Is that possible?
Neoregelia X Ultima
Neoregelia Hybrid

And how about this bloom?
Bromeliad Aechmea 'Royal Wine'
I also have an ornamental pineapple in my garden, but the leaves of mine are different from this one.  This red pineapple contrasts the varigated leaves so nicely.
Ananas comosus x Ananas bracteatus 'Tricolor' (Red Pineapple)
This flower is just so standing out with its bright red orange color.
Scutellaria costaricana
 (Helmet flower, also known as Scarlet Skullcap or Costa Rican Skullcap)
This bloom is white and airy with long white stamens that look like whiskers, hence the common name 'Cat's Wiskers'.

Orthosiphon Stamineus (Cat's Whiskers)
They also have quite a nice collection in ginger family.  Here are two of them.
Alpinia henryi 'Pink Perfection'
Costus barbatus (Spiral Ginger)
Even with careful picking, I found I still have so many pictures I have taken in the garden that I can not pack into this already long post.  I will share them with you in some future posts.

Hope you enjoyed the tour so far.   This garden has so many to offer.  I am so happy that my husband and two boys took me here to celebrate the Mother's Day.


For Part Two, please click here.
For Part Three, please click here.


  1. Ami,
    What a great day and a great gift from your family.

    A beautiful tour of amazingly tropical gardens. Gee, all those bromeliads and gingers in bloom just reminds me of how much warmer it stays 'down south'.

    The Neoregelia X Ultima will multiply quickly for you. I find it to be one of the hardiest (and fastest growing) bromeliads in my garden. I am transplanting them in many places all the time... even in containers now. Never knew its name as it was originally a passalong~~ so thanks.

    Beautiful tour and beautiful photos. Thanks.

    (I left an answer to your question on my blog on my last post about the small shade tree. But then I also thought about the possibility of you finding a standard Indian Hawthorn??? I've planted two of them this spring and I'm excited to see them in about 5 years when they have a nice but small-er canopy.)
    I'll keep thinking...

  2. Ami ~ What a lovely Mother's Day treat you had. Your pictures are all wonderful and I look forward to seeing more of this beautiful garden.

    I would love that oak tree also with all the beautiful flowers, etc. growing in it.

    I love Dale Chihuly's glass works. The Norton Art Museum has some beautiful pieces as a ceiling of one room. There are nice comfortable benches that you can even lie on to get the full effect. You can't see all the beautiful pieces in one visit.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  3. Your family certainly gave you the perfect gift. Happy Mother's Day!

    I enjoyed the tour of this garden. It's one I've read about often but have never visited. It's definitely on the 'some day' list. Your photo of the palms by the lake is so nice. I'm a native Floridian and that shot reminds me of many scenes that used to be commonplace here before all the development that has taken place. It's nice to see some natural Florida preserved. I look forward to future installments of your visit to Fairchild.

  4. It is a personal dream of mine to one day visit Fairchild. You are so lucky! What a botanical paradise! Beautiful to see those orchids dripping from the tree branch! And I love the jacarandas! They are blooming all over CF right now as well and do draw the eyes instantly. Such a strange color on a tree!

  5. Meems: I only got the name "Neoregelia X Ultima " from the label. But when I google with this name, the picture is not exact same as the one I saw in Fairchild (although very close). Well, whatever it is, I love it and glad to know that it is very hardy and fast to multiply :)

    Thanks for putting lots of thoughts for me to find a suitable small shade tree. I will do some research of the two trees you mentioned.

    Flowerlady:Glad that you liked the tour. Isn't that live oak tree a beauty? Candy for eyes :)

    Among the art works presented in Fairchild, I love Dale Chihuly's glass works best. Those cobelt herons are so pretty and unbelievable.

    NanaK: There are more preserved and historical areas in Miami area than the city I am live in. The city I live in is a new development, it is very well planned, clean and nice, but it doesn't give me those old-time nature beauty that I love :)

    FloridaGirl: I do consider myself lucky to be close to Fairchild. I am thinking returning there in cool season so that I can stay there longer to enjoy more :)

  6. Oh Ami that was great - what a great Mother's Day outing. The scenery is so different from what I am used to here - so many new things just like that flower - its unknown to me too.

  7. Hi Ami,

    What a beautiful garden. It really is the best way to spend Mother's Day. I just love the Jacaranda.

  8. I'm definitely coming back to this post if only for the pretty pictures. We went to fairchild last year and I don't rember seeing those cute little pink billbergias with the rolled up leaves!!! The aechmea blue tango was one of my favorites last year too though. Can't wait to see more!

  9. Really enjoyed this tropical garden.
    It must be very refreshing just to experience all this.

  10. aloha ami,

    happy belated mothers day and what a great tour, this is an amazing garden, i'm glad you finally saw this in person...the palm and cycad collection really looks very impressive - even for hawaii standards!

  11. Hi Ami,
    Oh I have heard of the Fairchild gardens, what lovely photos you took. That sure was a gift from the heart - happy mothers day (belated) Thanks for sharing

  12. Hello Ami, thanks for sharing your Mother's Day tour with us! What a lovely gift! MAny of those plants are quite different to what I can grow, but it is amazing to see them all.
    The live oak tree with all those tendril like plants growing down from is just fantastic, like something out of a dream!

  13. What a perfect gift for mother's day. This garden is really splendid. I really like the jacaranda tree which is overflowing with lavender flowers. Purple is my fave colour.


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