If you haven’t met the Aroids, now is the perfect time! Step away from your own dysfunctional family and go to Miami to meet this one! The Aroid Family has a big reunion every year at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and you’re invited to the festivities on Saturday and Sunday, September 15 & 16 from 9:30am-4:30pm. The event is presented by the International Aroid Society and the Aroid plants and society members will be on display and for sale (well, the human members aren’t for sale, just the plants). I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some serious Aroid collectors in my time and these people mean business and they’re on to something. These plants are gorgeous, striking, fascinating and unique and have freakish tendencies which other plant families lack. They grow up trees, they hang from trees, they scale walls, they can smell horrible, they can grow huge or be really tiny- the varieties are endless. Many of them have giant leaves which you can cut and place in big glass vases in your home and they last for months. The Monstera or Swiss Cheese Plant even produces an edible fruit. You may have read about Fairchild’s “Mr. Stinky” in the newspaper; he is a Corpse Flower also known as Amorphophallus titanum and he has an enormous and very smelly flower. If you’re lucky, you can meet him. I highly recommend that you visit this show to tour the garden and purchase some Aroids for your own garden. I think you’ll be impressed with the drama they add to your landscape!
Every summer as a child, I greatly anticipated the day when my family would plant a few giant sunflowers in the vegetable garden. We carefully placed the small black and white striped seeds in a small trough and watered them daily as we waited for the moment when the first leaf appeared. One of my favorite events was the day when the plants grew taller than me. I watched the flower buds form and pondered how much taller the plants could actually get and wondered if they would be able to stand on their own or if we would have to stake them. After the flower petals faded and the seeds were ready for harvesting, we would cut the heads off and pick out the seeds. That task was a very zen-like experience where I could just zone out and enjoy being outside. Shucking corn, removing peas from their pods, and topping and tailing green beans were also fun activities that became like a meditation. As we snacked on the raw seeds, we also saved some for the birds and for planting the following year.
On a recent episode of HGTV’s ‘Weekends with Luis’, Luis Bosch, the star of the show and general contractor, helped a young couple turn an unused carport into an extra room of living space in Ft. Lauderdale. Luis specializes in helping homeowners get high-end designs without high-end budgets. HGTV asked us to provide the landscaping to accessorize and complete the project. Due to filming restrictions and television deadlines, we had to move fast, asking one of our favorite nurseries to open outside of their normal business hours so we could pick up the specimen plants which we wanted to use to showcase the home. We arrived at the destination on a Sunday morning and it was mobbed with other contractors feverishly working inside the house. Their vehicles and the trucks from the production crew were scattered along the street and the police came by a few times to ask people to move their cars. Curious neighbors inquired about the cause of this mysterious commotion in their normally quiet neighborhood. We were; however, sworn to secrecy until this episode aired so we couldn’t tell them much. Luckily, the morning drizzle cleared so we could get to work setting up the plantings. The homeowners were sent away for the day so they would be surprised by the final result. When they returned, they were ecstatic about the new look of their home and they fell in love with the tropical landscaping. We utilized colorful, tropical plants in the design including Ground Orchids, Crotons, Bromeliads, Crown of Thorns, Firespike, Ti Plants and Bird of Paradise. A short clip of the episode can be found on the HGTV website featuring our landscape work at the end! We were thrilled to help Luis and the homeowners create a luxury look with a manageable budget and would love to do the same for you!
Upon hearing about a new and healthy Miami Beach brunch experience, I decided to meet up with some Facebook friends and investigate these reports. T.H.R.I.V.E. stands for The Healthy Raw Inspired Vegan Experience but the menu has a nice mix of raw and cooked selections. Miami NewTimes awarded Thrive with the Best Place for Outdoor Salad and Smoothie 2011. The best part of the experience, aside from the food, is the location of the small cafe which is on Alton Road nestled inside a garden center full of pretty and interesting plants! They have indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate the full spectrum of Miami weather and personal preferences. Six of us met there for brunch and ordered all sorts of dishes from the Daily Vegan Hot Bowl to waffles, pancakes, and quesadillas (with non-dairy cheese). All of us loved each dish and sampled various desserts such as their Chocolate Ecstasy Pie, Mango Cobbler, Strawberry Brownies, Truffles and Cupcakes. If you are craving healthy, natural and nutritious food, then try Thrive for organic seasonal produce, plant-based global foods all made without preservatives, pesticides, additives, refined flours, sugars, eggs, dairy and animal by-products. They also use biodegradable products, non-toxic cleaners and promote recycling and community events in efforts toward a peaceful and sustainable Earth.
Pollination is a primary goal for the plant kingdom. Results depend on many factors, but luring and attracting are key. Previously, in a blog post about Bird of Paradise, we illustrated how the flower included a perch for birds to utilize in order to pollinate their flowers. Stapelia plants scoff at such tactics and utilize disgusting odors instead! It’s rather common place for flowers to smell fabulous so Stapelias think outside the box and and use the opposite approach. By mimicking the smell of rotting flesh, these plants have earned their name “carrion flowers”. They are very successful in luring large flies to their alien-like flowers. The flies are often so thoroughly confused that they will even lay their eggs in the flowers thinking their larvae will have an instant food source when they hatch. If you can tolerate the smell, they are fascinating plants to observe with their spiky, succulent stems and crazy, smelly flowers. The most common variety has large, hairy, star-shaped flowers which look like pointy balloons before they pop open and summon the flies. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables is having their Annual Spring Plant Sale and Food & Garden Festival Saturday and Sunday, April 30 & May 1st, 2011.
There will be cooking demonstrations, kid’s activities, as well as poetry scattered throughout the garden and music! Lecture topics include Edible Summer Gardening on a Budget, Living and Eating Green, Natural Pest Control, The Healing Power of a Garden and more!
The Plant Sale offers thousands of plants from the Fairchild Nursery, local vendors and Plant Societies to enhance any garden space and tempt even those with the brownest of thumbs!
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens is one of the most extraordinary South Florida Landscape collections and I sure am glad I am a Member. For those of you who cannot join us, I might be posting a video of this weekend’s event. In the meantime, enjoy a virtual tour of the greenhouses and gardens with John of GrowingYourGreens.com:
The opportunity to create spaces designed to awaken the senses, allow users to reconnect with their ‘earthly roots’ or living world around us. Landscape architecture is a noble endeavor that I am red hot passionate about. I find great joy and exhilaration watching the dances of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds orchestrated by the plant choices I have made in my garden, a cocktail of Odontonema strictum (firespike), Asclepias tuberosa (milkweed) amongst others, which benefit both them and me – food for them, peace, thought and marvel for me. I always incorporate plants that will attract the living world around us into gardens I design for others in hope that they too will be inspired.