A Visit to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
A unique collection of exotic trees and plants makes Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden near Miami a treat to visit.
Ever wanted to wander a rain forest filled with colorful orchids? See towering palms from far away lands? Stand beneath a baobab tree? Then it’s time to plan a visit to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden near Miami, Florida. The collections here are unique and unlike any you’re likely to find elsewhere in the country. Miami’s southern climate allows for a collection of trees and plants that won’t grow in most places around the USA.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is named for Dr. David Fairchild. He worked for the USDA in the late 1800s and early 1900s, traveling the world to find trees and plants that he felt would be beneficial to the American landscape. Dr. Fairchild brought a whopping 200,000 varieties of plants to our country. You can thank him for mangoes, soybeans, pistachios, and the flowering cherry trees that grace our capital each spring. When he retired to Miami in 1935, he joined a coalition of others to create and fill a new botanic garden. While landscape architect William Lyman Phillips worked on the garden’s design with funding from Col. Robert H. Montgomery, Fairchild set off around the world to collect plants for the gardens.
The result is a botanic garden like few others. Trees are a major focus, with a large and internationally important collection of palms. Another unusual feature is the Madagascar Spiny Garden, filled with unusual plants from the land where lemurs live. A charming water feature contains American’s only outdoor specimens of Victoria water lilies, with lily pads that can reach up to 40 inches. During the cooler months, the Orchid Odyssey fills the trees of the rain forest area with living orchids in vivid hues. Butterfly lovers will enjoy the outdoor native butterfly garden and the indoor Wings of the Tropics butterfly exhibit. And these are just a few highlights of this massive botanic garden.
Perhaps one of the nicest things about visiting Fairchild is the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers and staff. Start your visit with a tram tour to get a detailed overview of the 83 acres. Then hop on a complimentary shuttle to go back and see the areas that interest you most. One visit to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (fairchildgarden.org) isn’t nearly enough to see it all, but you can certainly try!