If you had asked me years ago about any interest in arid plants, I would have rolled my eyes. Now as I travel from garden to garden, I am increasingly becoming fond of these whimsical spiny succulants and cacti. I may just have to buy one. Perhaps it’s the beauty of thier shapes. I find them bizzare and frankly fun. Here in Miami, The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has two swaths of land that easily transport the wandering visitor another world.
All the gardens here are visually tactile. Here in the arid gardens I found the most impressive agaves I have yet to come across! The agave attenuata below is from Mexico. Not only is it impressive overall, the growth of this plant is visually facinating. It begins with a typical wide leaf base but its outshoot stands seven or so feet tall! As a photographer I found each part of the plant visually intriging!
Together, the plant is a surprise to say the least! There are also the other agaves which I enjoy simply for their form.
While others types of arid plants here are notable for their bizzare shapes and unique qualities!
On my only visit to Fairchild I was astounded and the number of information specialists walking the paths or waiting on benches when you round a corner. I chuckled when I saw a stack of “Horticultural Hotline” business cards that were on display in one of the information booths along the path. Now this is a great garden, I thought. And these cards show just how seriously they hope to educate the public. Afterall that is what Fairchild Tropical Bontical Garden is all about.
There is also the Lin Lougheed Spiny Forest of Madagascar section of the garden. On of the great things I love about the Fairchild is their ability to transport visitors to other parts of the world. We may be in Florida but the arid gardens make it felt and looked more like Africa. That seems to be the point!
It turns out that the African Island of Madagascar is nearly the same latitude as Florida. This allows for a great conservation exchange between the two countries. Fairchild explains this program as, “to save two unique habitats. In the south of Madagascar we have partnered with the Arboretum d’Antsokay to support the development of a regional conservation facility for the unique spiny forest of Madagascar. This extraordinary habitat is displayed in the new Lin Lougheed Spiny Forest of Madagascar exhibit at Fairchild. We have partnered with Man and the Environment (MATE) to help conserve one of the last pieces of coastal forest along the eastern coast of Madagascar. The Vohibola Forest Reserve contains endemic trees and palms found nowhere else in Madagascar”
According to the Fairchild, Madagascar’s “arid climate and poor soils”, have prompted, “these plants to have evolved classical catus-like thorns and spkes even though they are not related to the cactus.” Being from an isolated island, the plants here evolved uniquely in response to the peculiar climate.
This Pachypodium Lanerei (above) from Southern Madagascar has thick, sharp spines enveloping the entire trunk.
This lovely, little, yellow flower perched upon it’s canopy is the endangered succulent: uncarina grandidieri. According to Fairchild this is due to the, “habitat destruction, conversion to charcoal and illegal collection for the plant trade in Madagascar.”
Of course there are plants one may expect to see. This aloe plant (below) from Madagascar looks much the same as ours.
Lastly, nearby is the massive African Baobab tree that lives for thousands of years. In fact, the Fairchild cites the lengend claiming they can “live for tens of thousands of years.” It’s only known enemy is the elephant. The elephants use their long tusks to rip into the tree trunks to get the moisture that settles within the tree’s inner fiberous tissue. This tree is about 70 years old and looks like it has plenty more years ahead.
This is just one of the many gardens here at The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Hands down, Fairchild is one of the top two most impressive gardens I’ve ever seen. There will be many more posts featuring this Miami garden destination to show just why it dazzles me so. As for now, this Bee is off to have one last cup of tea for the evening.
Britt : )