Posted Nov. 12, 2012
By ELIZABETH DE ARMAS
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In the midst of the hustle and bustle surrounding metropolitan Miami, serenity lingers closer than one may think. Tucked away in a quiet area on Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables lies a spectacular botanical garden encompassing 83 acres of land, luscious flowers, butterflies, birds, art and history.
Welcome to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Opening its doors for the first time in 1938, the garden became a nationally recognized plant conservation and education-based garden in a short period of time. David Fairchild, an internationally known plant explorer, helped spearhead the creation of the garden with a core group of environmental advocates.
Now, 74 years later, the garden counts 45,000 members, more than 1,200 volunteers, nearly 700 species of flowering trees and approximately 350,000 visitors each year.
At Fairchild, there is something for any one, at any age, to enjoy.
Enjoy food? Eat. Like long walks? Take the trail. Enjoy vegetables? Take a look at the edible garden. Like tours? Take the tram with a guide.
Devon Powell, a field botanist and research scientist in the garden, says Fairchild is special to South Florida.
“The garden sticks out because it is the only tropical garden in the United States outside of Hawaii,” Powell said.
And for those visitors who won’t go anywhere without a camera in hand, get ready for many photo scrapbook moments.
Stephanie Parra, a member of David Fairchild Tropical Garden, enjoys visiting often with her family.
“The garden provides the Miami community with a tropical oasis of lush greens and natural landscapes,” Parra said. “As a member, I believe the gardens help enhance botanic and cultural aspects of the city.”
Throughout the year, the garden hosts many cultural events. Among them are the Edible Garden Festival, Garden Wedding Experience, Ramble Friday, Butterfly Days, Holiday Music, Gala in the Garden, and Plant ID workshops.
The events allow members of the community, and visitors of the area alike, to experience the garden first hand –- with a twist.
Each event is unique and designed to create a new experience each time, from the moment you enter until the moment you leave.
Luis Esteban, a Miami resident, never tires of visiting Fairchild Garden.
“I have been to many of the garden’s events with my family, and I’m always left in awe by the beauty and elegance of this place,” Esteban said. “Not only are the events entertaining, but many are extremely informative and thought provoking.”
For first-time visitors, Esteban says the rainforest, arboretum, food spot and art display are a “must.”
The Richard H. Simons Rainforest, created in 2000, takes visitors through a two-acre trail filled with waterfalls, tropical palms and orchids. The Fairchild Arboretum displays more than 700 species of vibrant and vivacious tropical flowering trees from all over the world in 12-acres. If that isn’t enough, the Geiger Tropical Flower Garden, has several colorful flowers that visitors can admire while taking in their sweet fragrances.
“There is so much to see and do, that every time is like going for the first time,” Esteban said. “Be assured that you’re not only coming to one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, but one of the most peaceful places.”
Everyone loves food, and Fairchild Tropical Garden does, too. The Lakeside Café offers a full menu with fresh fruit options, a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups, smoothies and desserts.
Kimberly Bobson, Marketing and Production manager at Fairchild Garden, says the garden is unique and a wonderful place to visit year-round.
“Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants,” she said. “It exhibits some of the tropical world’s rarest and most beautiful plants within the tapestry of an iconic landscape design.”
If the food isn’t appealing enough, the scenery seals the deal. Enjoy your tasty meal with a lake view, under an umbrella, and around vibrant beautiful gardens and sculptures. Sounds like a dream, but it’s real. Pinch yourself while you’re there to make sure.
Thais Cardelle sits under an umbrella and gazes at the garden as she enjoys a Key Lime Tart with whipped cream. She is 86 years old, but she still enjoys lunch with her husband at the Lakeside Café in Fairchild Garden, and she gets a little cardio in while she’s there.
“Nature is a beautiful thing,” she said. “My husband is an artist and he has always loved painting paradise flowers and rose bouquets. Whenever I come here, I understand why. It’s breathtaking.”
Year round, visitors can enjoy artwork that is on display by Daisy Youngblood, Freda Tschumy, and Dale Chihuly. Yoko Ono’s Wishing Grove is also on display. While those artists are there to stay, seasonal art is exhibited from December to May. Several world-renowned artists have displayed their work in the garden since 2005.
Many times, at the Fairchild shop, paintings are available for purchase. The store also includes post cards, souvenirs, educational books, décor for your home, stationary, and more.
“I would encourage anyone and everyone to visit Fairchild more than once,” Cardelle said. “Not so you can become a flower expert, but so you can learn to appreciate the little things in life – natural beauty, life and peace.”
IF YOU GO
- Address: 10901 Old Cutler Road Coral Gables, Fla. 33156.
- Phone Number: 305-667-1651.
- Hours: Mondays through Fridays: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Prices: Adults – $25, Seniors – $18, Children – $12.
- Cash, major credit cards, and travels checks are accepted.
- Bring insect repellant and sunblock.
- For more information visit http://www.fairchildgarden.org/.