Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

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Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is located in Florida
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Type Private,[1] open to the public for a fee[2]
Location Coral Gables, (Miami-Dade County), Florida, United States
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Area 83 acres (34 ha)
Created 1938 (1938)[3]
Status Open year round
Website Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is an 83-acre (34 ha) botanic garden, with extensive collections of rare tropical plants including palms, cycads, flowering trees and vines. It is located in metropolitan Miami, just south of Coral Gables, Florida, United States, surrounded at the south and west by Matheson Hammock Park.

Fairchild opened to the public in 1938.[4]

With 45,000 members and over 1,200 volunteers, Fairchild plays many roles, including museum, laboratory, learning center and conservation research facility, but its main role is preserving biodiversity, which the garden’s scientists, staff and volunteers all contribute to on a daily basis. In 2012, Fairchild also became the home of the American Orchid Society.[4]


The garden was established in 1936 by Robert H. Montgomery (1872–1953), an accountant, attorney, and businessman with a passion for plant-collecting.[5] The garden opened to the public in 1938.[6] It was named after his good friend David Fairchild (1869–1954), one of the great plant explorers. Dr. Fairchild's extensive travels brought more than 20,000 important plants to the United States, including mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, dates, horseradish, bamboos and flowering cherries.[7] David Fairchild retired to Miami in 1935, but many plants still growing in the Garden were collected and planted by Dr. Fairchild, including a giant African baobab tree. With the guidance of an influential circle of friends, Montgomery pursued the dream of creating a botanical garden in Miami. He purchased the site, named it after Dr. Fairchild, and later deeded it in large part to Miami-Dade County.[8]

The garden was designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, member of the Frederick Law Olmsted partnership,[9] and a leading landscape designer in South Florida during the 1930s. He was born in 1885 in Massachusetts and obtained his landscape architecture degree from Harvard in 1910.[10] He came to Florida in 1924 and by 1933, he was working with the Dade County Park Department and drawing plans for Greynolds Park and Matheson Hammock Park.[10] In 1938 Phillips began design for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.[10] Phillip’s top three principles when designing Fairchild was as follows: variety, consistency, and contrast.[10] The first 15 years saw the construction of its primary buildings and landscape features, including the Montgomery Palmetum, Bailey Palm Glade, Allee and Overlook, Vine Pergola, Amphitheatre, Gate House, Montgomery Library and Museum, 14 lakes, stone terracing walls, irrigation systems, Moos Sunken Garden, and Nell Montgomery Garden House auditorium. Later buildings included the Davis House (1953), Hawkes Laboratory (1960), Robbins Plant Science Building (1967), Rare Plant House (1968), Corbin Education Building (1972), Jean duPont Shehan Visitor Center (2002) and various additions over the years. A groundbreaking ceremony occurred in 2010 for significant new complex of buildings including the Paul and Swanee DiMare Science Village, Dr. Jane Hsaio Tropical Research Laboratories, Clinton Family Conservatory and Burns Building. The new Science Village complex was opened December 2012 and was designed by Miami architect Max Strang.

Research and conservation

Fairchild scientists are conserving tropical plants, hoping to avoid the extinction of species and their habitats. These activities are measured by the delivery of quantifiable conservation benefits to Fairchild’s priority geographic investment regions (South Florida, Caribbean, oceanic islands, tropical Africa, and Madagascar) and plant groups (palms, cycads, tropical fruit and tropical trees).[11]

These have been selected because of conservation need, institutional expertise and history. Main activities include field exploration of important plant areas, conservation assessments, species recovery and direct support to in-situ conservation.

With active partnerships with area colleges (including Florida International University, University of Miami, Miami Dade College, and University of Florida) Fairchild trains graduate and postdoctoral students.

Education Programs

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden offers educational programs to all age groups. Simple horticultural study, art and painting, photography, and culinary courses are offered.[12] More than five different childhood educational programs are offered at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for kindergarten to 12th grade. Through scientific investigation and garden exploration, students learn the fundamentals of botany, landscape, and nature. The programs included are the Explorer Program, Discovery Program, Adventure Program, Planet Mobile Program, and Homeschool Program.[13] Through one such program, The Fairchild Challenge, around 20,000 students at more than 120 K-12 schools across Miami-Dade County plant, maintain, grow and learn in their school gardens. This program offers garden consultations and teacher workshops as well as provides school garden grants. They include staff supervision, guided activities, and hands-on learning experiences. Graduate students can apply for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s graduate fellowship. This fellowship trains students in "systematics, ecology, evolutionary biology, and genetics" and more.[14]

Wings of the Tropics

This is the garden's newest exhibit. Exotic butterflies from Central America and South America flutter freely within the 25,000 square foot Clinton Family Observatory.[15] Butterflies are released twice a day, mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Among them are heliconius, morpho and owl butterfly. The USDA approved observatory features butterfly feeding times, which include fresh sliced fruit such as mango and cantaloupe.[15]The butterflies also feed on ripe bananas which are usually placed in tree stumps or down at the ground level. There is a concrete walkway leading around the beautifully landscaped enclosed area where visitors can freely roam among the many butterflies that can easily land in one's shoulders or head. Upon entering or exiting this exhibit, there are double sets of doors to ensure that butterflies do not escape the area.


Since 2003 Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has sponsored a series of exhibits by artists, including Patricia Van Dalen, Yayoi Kusama, Dale Chihuly, Fernando Botero, Cameron Gainer, Roy Lichtenstein, Franz West, Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Michele Oka Doner, Mark Dion, Joshua Levine, as well as Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne.[16]

New artists exhibit at Fairchild starting each December. Currently featured exhibits throughout the garden include the art of Dale Chihuly, Daisy Youngblood, Freda Tschumy and Sicis.

Throughout the year the garden hosts a series of seasonal weekend festivals ranging from the International Chocolate Festival, the International Mango Festival, the Butterfly Festival, the Bird Festival, the Orchid Festival, the Ramble, the Food and Garden Festival and the Edible Garden Festival.[17] Other activities include concerts, plant society meetings and a wide variety of classes.[18] The Ramble is very popular with Fairchild Garden members who look forward to the event so they can purchase plants which are highly desired. This event is usually held in the Fall of each year.

See also


  1. "About Fairchild". Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Retrieved November 25, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Hours and Admission". Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Retrieved November 25, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Zuckerman 1988. p. 33
  4. 4.0 4.1 http://www.fairchildgarden.org/aboutfairchild/
  5. Wait 1948. p. 8.
  6. "About Fairchild". fairchildgarden.org. Retrieved 31 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. David Fairchild#cite note-1
  8. Zuckerman 1988. Pp. 15-33.
  9. Jackson 1997. p. 16.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 http://www.fairchildgarden.org/About-Fairchild/Important-People-In-Fairchild-History
  11. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/centerfortropicalplantconservation/
  12. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/Education/Adults
  13. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/Education/School-Youth
  14. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/Education/School-Youth/College-Graduate-Studies
  15. 15.0 15.1 http://www.fairchildgarden.org/Horticulture/Wings-Of-The-Tropics
  16. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/visitingfairchild/art-at-fairchild/
  17. http://www.fairchildgarden.org/events/
  18. "Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden". Fairchildgarden.org. Retrieved 2012-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jackson, Faith Reyher. Pioneer of Tropical Landscape Architecture: William Lyman Phillips in Florida. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1997.
  • Pinkas, Dr. Lilly. Fairchild Tropical Garden. Miami, FL: Hallmark Press, 1996. ISBN 0-9652810-0-0
  • Wait, Lucita H. Fairchild Tropical Garden; the First Ten Years. New York: the Ronald Press, 1948.
  • Zuckerman, Bertram. The Dream Lives On: A History of the Fairchild Tropical Garden, 1938-1988. Miami, FL:Fairchild Tropical Garden, 1988 ISBN 0-916224-85-6

External links