Monday April 14, 2008
My third trip to Fairchild was the most interesting yet, thanks in part to unwillingly (and groaningly) submitting to the tram tour. The garden has over 500 volunteers, and among other things they lead all these tours, which are — surprise — extremely interesting and helpful in making sense of what might otherwise seems a somewhat sprawling estate. Fairchild has four distinct plant habitats and … well, I’m not going to regurgitate everything, but trust me, it’s worth it.
The public attraction aspect is almost secondary to Fairchild’s scientific function. A premiere collection of tropical wildlife, every plant on the property is a scientific specimen, and many are tagged for reference. Botanists come from all over the world to study this stuff.
In the arid area, almost every different plant is a different species. Set atop a small hill, the area was excavated and filled with fast-draining sandy soil to simulate a desert environment.
So, I guess we should talk about the Lichtenstein. There are only about 10 sculptures, but they’re pretty hard to miss of course. At their best (for example, this lamp light sculpture) they’re pretty darned good.
Also the house sculpture, charming enough in a photo, but employing a perspective gimmick that makes it look like it’s moving as you walk past it. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of tired “brushstroke” pieces to be had, but the best of it was pretty good.
Also, remnants of Chihuly abound. Here a lizard has gotten pretty comfortable with the red tubes. I sort of wish they’d get rid of the glass, because it’s pretty distracting. In the tropical rainforest all people were photographing were the sodding glass balls in the stream. (Tour tidbit: since Miami doesn’t get nearly as much rain as a rainforest needs, the area has a treetop-level sprinkler system — every layer of the rainforest needs water, not just the ground.)
Orchid fever in the enclosed conservatory building. I took the orchid pictures, but Susan took most of the rest of them, because like a knucklehead I left my camera battery at home. More orchid pictures at flickr: 1, 2, 3. Oh, one last thing. Fairchild has a butterfly garden now. Did you know that if you plant the right plants, butterflies will just start hanging out? Well, they planted lots and lots of them in one little area and viola — a year-round swarm of butterflies. Good stuff.comments powered by Disqus