One of the first things you will notice upon entering the garden is the intoxicating smell of the ylang-ylang tree (Cananga odorata). Competing for best scent in the garden is the frangipani (Plumeria rubra), fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum), and Magnolia champaca.
Other trees, though lacking in scent, have beautiful blooms, such as the ashoka tree (Saraca indica), silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa), and starburst bush (Clerodendrum quadriloculare), which all bloom at different times throughout the year.
Other trees with smaller blooms such as the Bauhinia, and Tabebuia send out flowers continuously through the seasons.
Where would Miami Beach be without its iconic palms? The garden is home to many of these, including the royal palm (Roystonea elata), bailey palm (Copernicia baileyana), triangle palm (Dypsis decaryi), buccaneer palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii), fishtail palm (Caryota spp.) and many more. In fact, there are over 60 species growing in only 2.6 acres.
Palms are not really trees as their trunks are comprised of fibres instead of wood and do not form annual tree rings. They belong in the Arecaceae family, which is more closely related to grasses than true trees.
This tranquil corner of the garden is defined by a red lacquered bridge spanning a quiet pond dotted with water lilies (Nymphaea spp.). Stone lanterns stand amongst the plantings based on the principles of feng shui, where specific orientation and placing of certain elements helps to capture the energy and spirit of nature. Significant plantings here include the red powder puff shrub (Calliandra haematocephala), golden trumpet tree (Tabebuia caribea), and various types of tropical bamboo.
Orchidaceae is the largest and most diverse family of flowering plants, and many bloom all throughout the year here. As you explore the area, you may discover that not all our plantings are in the ground. Many orchids peer out between tree branches and foliage, so don’t forget to look up too!
The orchids in our collection consist mainly of those which will survive outdoors in our particular microclimate. Genera include Vanilla, Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, Schomburgkia, and Vanda. The garden often has orchids for sale if you would like to try your hand at growing your own.
The Native Garden is a wild area defined by woodchipped pathways and densly planted perennial shrubs, trees and palms. Nearby plantings of tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) and firebush (Hamelia patens) provide food for butterflies, hummingbirds, and other animals.
This garden showcases flora that might not necessarily have showy flowers or foliage, but are paramount to ecosystem health. For example, the coontie cycad (Zamia pumila) is a low growing, flowerless plant often confused as a fern or palm, but is actually more closely related to coniferous trees. It is the only cycad native to Florida and the host plant for the critically endangered Atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala).
Other plantings include Lignum-vitae (Guaiacum sanctum), and live oak (Quercus virginiana), with epiphytic plants growing amongst the branches such as tillandsia, orchids, and cacti.
Water is a focal point in all areas of the garden. According to our landscape architect Raymond Jungles, the element of water is significant because it “brings the sky into the garden, animates the space, reflects the landscape, and cools the areas directly around the buildings. Water magnifies the garden’s sense of scale.”
Immediately outside the offices is a refurbished fountain designed by Morris Lapidus. Beyond the fountain is the main pond with a cascading oolite fountain and flowering water lilies. The adjoining wetland contains red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle), pond apple trees (Annona glabra), and rush grasses (Juncus spp.).
During the day you can see dragonflies, koi, ciclids, and if you’re lucky, one very shy turtle roaming the waters. At night the bufo toads take over the pond edges.
In today’s chaotic world, the edible garden remains a reliable source of sustenance and natural beauty. Our edible garden was made possible in part by the local chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier: an international organization of women in the field of food, drink and gastronomy. This tropical edible garden contains pineapples (Ananas comosus), pomegranates (Punica granatum), coffee (Coffea arabica), common figs (Ficus carica) and even raspberries (Rubus niveus Thunb.). Often we will harvest fresh food and herbs from the garden to supplement workshops, mixers and other events.