An explosion of colors and equally as vivid fragrances cover the land of Fairchild Gardens. Lush vegetation accented with popping glass sculptures out of a fairytale await visitors.
When it comes to “Things to do in Miami” you need to mention Fairchild Gardens. The garden was established in 1936 by Robert H. Montgomery (1872–1953), an accountant, attorney, and businessman with a passion for plant-collecting. The garden opened to the public in 1938. He named it after his friend David Fairchild (1869–1954), a significant plant explorer. Fairchild’s travels brought more than 20,000 plants to the United States, including mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, dates, horseradish, bamboos, and flowering cherries.
David Fairchild retired to Miami in 1935, but many plants still growing in the Garden were collected and planted by him, including a giant African baobab tree. Montgomery pursued the creation a botanical garden in Miami. He purchased the site, named it after Fairchild, and later deeded it in large part to Miami-Dade County.
The garden was designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, member of the Frederick Law Olmsted partnership, 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. 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. In 1938 Phillips began design for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Phillip’s top three principles when designing Fairchild were: variety, consistency, and contrast.
Variety, consistency and contrast make the garden such a magnificent spot for weddings and gatherings. 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 are all help on the property and are made memorable because of the flora and fauna.
The 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 were built in the first 15 years. 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. In 2010 there was a groundbreaking ceremony for a new complex of buildings including the Paul and Swanee DiMare Science Village, Dr. Jane Hsaio Tropical Research Laboratories, Clinton Family Conservatory, and Burns Building.