Gardening zones are like an artist’s palette. Based on the extreme highs and lows of each region, the USDA hardiness zones dictate what will thrive where. In terms of art we have impressionism, pop art, purism, minimalism and more. And with the garden there, too, are styles: contemporary, minimalist, English cottage, French and Japanese. Each garden style is unique. Personally, I lean towards the classic cottage, but I certainly can appreciate other styles. During my recent trip to southern Florida
I was dazzled by the tropical paradise. There were pergolas everywhere draped in bright pink blossoms. Large trees with intriguing exposed twisted roots created a canopy of shade down many neighborhood streets. All the natural beauty has been carefully planned and planted at a one stop feast for the eyes, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
The tropical plant conservatory in Coral Cables is named after the world renowned plant explorer, Dr. David Fairchild. It boasts four hundred and fifty plants from the tropics plus seven hundred and forty species of tropical flowering trees with fragrances that fill the air. There are rare palms, orchids growing from tree trunks, ferns, fruit trees, and vines. After the tram tour through the gardens, I was content to wander away from my group to soak in so many beautiful things I had never seen before. Many of the rare plant species native to Florida and the Caribbean have unique shapes and textures. Technically, Miami has a sub-tropical climate that can actually be too cold for some tropicals, but Fairchild has that covered. The enclosed pavilions provide the optimal warm, humid environment the plants need, including some exotic fruit producers that you would typically see in the Amazon and Malaysia. Since it is highly unlikely I will ever travel to those distant corners of the world, it was a treat to see all of this natural beauty in one place.
If I had to pick the most memorable site from Fairchild it would have to be the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree. It was jaw-dropping in its beauty. The peeling bark reveals the most stunning color you will ever see on a tree trunk, hence the name rainbow Eucalyptus. In addition to the soothing pastel colors, it has a unique texture. Underneath the coarse bark is a smoother surface. Who knew a tree could be so fascinating?
With each additional year I add to my gardening hobby comes new discoveries. It’s a great feeling as an adult to be able to get so much pleasure from something so simple. It’s like seeing the world through the eyes of a child.