Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Florida – Top Ten Garden

Lush tropical vegetation

Lush tropical vegetation

Just a few miles south of Miami’s busy centre, you can follow a stream as it winds through acres of waterfalls hedged by tropical palms, orchids and other lush foliage.

That stream is a feature in the 83 acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden which was established in 1938 on the edge of Bay Biscayne by David Fairchild, the botanist and tropical plant collector. He particularly liked palms; there are now over 400 different species of palms in the Garden along with over 3,700 species of cycads and more than 700 tropical flowering trees.

The vegetation in some parts of the Garden can truly be described as luxuriant, whereas in other parts there are lawns and well-tended borders. Check at the reception for the shuttle service which some Seniors may find useful in getting to the upland sections of the Garden.

The Garden effectively combines displays and horticulture with research, education and conservation. An example of conservation is the area that specialises in the plants of Florida and Puerto Rico. It also attracts a wide range of birds and we were closely followed in one area of the garden by a great white egret that was hoping, successfully as it turned out, that we would disturb a lizard for it to catch and devour.

Don’t miss out on the open-air butterfly garden, the spiny forest of Madagascar and the tropical conservatory with its displays of orchids, aroids, bromeliads and epiphytes.

Artwork in a garden setting

Lalanne artwork set off by the lakes

The Fairchild Garden prides itself on promotion of the arts with well-known artists and musicians exhibiting and performing throughout the year.

Recent exhibitions have included art work by Dale Chihuly and Yoko Ono. When I visited two years ago, the art of Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne was being featured. Claude Lalanne uses plant forms in her work and her husband Francois-Xavier uses animal forms.

The very effective way in which the Garden blends contemporary art with its natural beauty was one of the factors in my including this garden in my Top Ten Gardens of the World.

The Garden is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, with an entrance fee currently of $25, but with a reduced fee of $18 for Seniors who are 65+.

Whilst in the area, make a point of visiting Vizcaya Museum and Garden, just a few miles north, with its elaborate Italian Renaissance-style villa and attractive gardens leading down to Biscayne Bay.

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