Fairchild Gardens – A Bunch of Orchids Picture

Remember what I said about South Florida being a place you can just stick exotic plants just about anywhere and they’ll grow?

Walking around Fairchild Gardens taking pictures, and trust me I have quite a few of them, I happened to spot this little display.

Mind you, Fairchild is well planned and a large exhibit of tropical exotic beauty.  The thing is that to my New Jersey born and bred mind, the idea of having a cluster of Dendrobium Orchids tucked in the ground next to some sort of Philodendron plant is amazing to me.

Here, lets just put these plants in the ground in an unassuming spot and let them grow.  They’re common enough that they’ll do well here.  Oh those plants?  They’re just a cluster of orchids that would cost a couple hundred dollars in the stores. 

That’s just one more thing to love about South Florida.  Nothing’s particularly subtle here.   When you have an “Exotic” it’s going to be properly exotic.  Beauty is all around us, all you need to do is look. 

I suspect that is a metaphor for anywhere, after all.  Sun coming up over the tundra on the North Slope can be beautiful, if a bit forbidding to me personally.  Amber Waves of Grain in the Midwest.  Sand dunes in the Desert.  Moonrise over the lake, which ever lake you choose, can be spectacular.

Just stop and look.  Nature’s beauty is all around you.

Want Chocolate? Here’s A Cacao Bean

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for some good chocolate.

When we were wandering around the grounds at Fairchild Gardens, I was a bit surprised to find it in front of me, growing.

Now granted, that’s stretching the truth a bit, but it was a Cacao plant with beans on it.  Add sugar and milk and a lot of processing and you might be able to get a little snack out of this particular bean when it is ripe.

It was growing indoors so I am guessing it is one of those “Full Tropical” plants that will only grow under certain conditions in Miami.  Things like Cacao and Durian won’t grow if the temperature drops below 40 or 50 and while we don’t freeze here, we get close.

That freeze line is only 15 miles North, in Boca Raton.  They’re welcome to it.

Fairchild Gardens Random Orchid – Picture

Funny topic for this one right?

Random Orchid?

I’m calling it that simply because I’m not an expert in orchids.  This being South Florida, you can tack a box to an old tree, drop some leaf litter or bark into it and a seedling of an orchid and it could be happy there.   Assuming it gets watered correctly and isn’t attacked by Iguanas or some other critter, you can reasonably expect it to grow and bloom.

It isn’t that Orchids are unremarkable, they just do quite well here with minimal care.

I think that attitude was evident at Fairchild.  There were many trees there, all with little signs saying what the Linnean name was, where they were from, and a common name if they had them.  At least one in a group would be labeled.  If you didn’t have a sign, you had a helpful volunteer who usually knew.  

On the other hand most of these trees had an orchid on or near them.  You got to expect them like they were part of the background flora.  But they were not really the reason for this garden, the trees were.  Great stands of rare tropical trees, some highly endangered, were given pride of place and labeled so everyone could know what they were. 

Having visited botanical gardens before, they had a feeling of being a Tree Museum.  This one certainly was.  We were told that this stand of palms were Haitian Oil Palms, and that this was the only stand anywhere in the world and that efforts to bring back the species were being made.

After all extinction is forever.  Once gone, those trees won’t be there to support the random orchids whether they’re really random or not.
If we don’t protect the trees, they’ll go into a tree museum and paradise will get paved for that parking lot.

Bill and Marjory Share a Seat at Fairchild Gardens – Picture

If you are walking around a large public area and happen across a seat, you’re going to borrow it for a bit even if you don’t necessarily need it.

If you own that public area and want to tell a story, put a piece of public art there.   It will engage people, tell that story, and give them a chance to learn more about your story.  

That’s all rather common, people have done that sort of adornment for as long as there have been people.  Cave paintings started it all, and we have progressed from that.

In the case of the bench, this is a bit more than a random occurrence.

I told my cousin Bill when we had our visit to have a seat next to the little old lady and we’ll get a picture of you for when you go back home.  A digital souvenir.  Bill doesn’t like having pictures taken of him, something I can understand.  I tend to be that guy behind the camera and not in front of it, which is why you see very few pictures of myself on this blog.

So we had our curmudgeonly grumblings back and forth and didn’t see a sign explaining why there was a bronze representation of a little old lady under a giant Gumbo Limbo tree enjoying her morning, but eventually we figured we’d find some rather insistent volunteer who would tell us all about her.

It turns out that this particular little old lady absolutely deserved the honor of place and presence.

She was the writer of the book that drew the rest of the world’s attention to the beauty of the Everglades and was responsible for Florida becoming the tourist attraction it is today.   If you visit Florida, love or live here, it is in part because of this woman.   She was Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who worked as a writer, Secretary for Fairchild Gardens, and quite a long resume of works for the public good.   Certainly deserving memory and a visit from us and the attention that she gets every day at Fairchild Gardens.

A rather pretty spot to sit down, have a regroup, and a sip of water from your canteen under the shade of a spreading tree.

Fairchild Gardens Water Lily Picture

I am normally disappointed with the concept of a Botanical Garden. 

Oh grant you, the beauty is amazing, the education opportunities are many, and they serve an incredible purpose. 

I always find myself wondering “Where can I get THAT?” when I leave.   It is like window shopping when you are in another city and you’ve left your wallet at the hotel.

I had been resisting going to Fairchild Botanical Gardens for quite a while.  Finally with my cousin in town, I had no excuse to not go so I went along. 

The place is simply put, breathtaking.   Absolutely worth a visit.  We walked into the front gate after being asked why we weren’t members.  Cousin Bill found that they were not in a Reciprocal Agreement with the botanical gardens in Omaha, Nebraska. 

After we managed to get past the volunteers, we entered a little court yard.  The building was being guarded by a hand sized lizard with a red head, grey body, and white rings that I had never seen before.  It wasn’t too happy with my trying to get a good view and focus on it with that little camera of mine.   I really do need to get a proper digital SLR one of these days.

Stepping under the breezeway, we saw the water feature.   In the feature were these water lilies.  If you have the plant in bloom, and you get the right angle and light, it is next to impossible to get at least a “good” picture of a water lily.  Playing with the angle with my digital camera and zooming in, the sky reflected back as an inky darkness into which the pinks and yellows of the blossom of this plant shown.

Looking at the Lily Pads I realized where they got camouflage patterns from.   It looked like we borrowed this right from the leaves of the plant in order to be able to hide in plain sight.  The inky dark of the water looking like motor oil that is just about ready to be changed, and the natural purples and greens of the plant showing off against the reflections of the palm trees and the clouds made for a view that had me stop and ponder the scene.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to sniff the roses.  Even if they are water lilies.