Located on 83 acres in Miami, Florida, the garden began as a vision in 1935 by Colonel Robert H. Montgomery, a renowned accountant, attorney and businessman. His vision was to create a botanical garden filled with tropical plants and he chose Miami since tropicals could grow outside year round.
Colonel Montgomery's vision and passion for plants were so successful that he has two other botanic gardens in the United States named for him: the Montgomery Botanical Center in Coral Gables, Florida, and the Montgomery Pinetum Park in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Montgomery Botanical Center emphasizes palms and cycads, while Pinetum Park is known for its collection of conifers from all over the world.
Montgomery received help from his friend Dr. David Fairchild, as well as environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, County Commissioner Charles Crandon and landscape architect William Lyman Phillips to found and develop Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a great advocate for the preservation of the Everglades. In 1947, she penned her famous work The Everglades: River of Grass. That same year, the Everglades National Park was opened. Ms. Douglas served on its committee. She also founded the Friends of the Everglades in 1969.
Dr. Fairchild was a plant explorer and scientist. The Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the United States Department of Agriculture was created by Fairchild when he was just 22 years old. During the next 37 years, he traveled abroad looking for plants that would be beneficial to Americans.
Landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, member of the Frederick Law Olmsted partnership, designed the garden. In 1938, Colonel Montgomery's dream was brought to fruition when the botanic garden opened to the public.
Today, the garden boasts many opportunities for visitors to get an up close look at tropical plant collections and conservation methods.
Here are just a few of the areas you can expect to see while there:
- Wings of the Tropics Conservatory with over 3,000 butterflies on display
- The Richard H. Simons Rainforest
- Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion and The Edible Garden
- 12 acre Arboretum housing approximately 740 different tropical flowering tree species
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is called home by many. The palm collection in the Montgomery Palmetum is said to be "the most important documented palm collection in the world." It is also home to a four acre naturalistic garden called The Keys Coastal Habitat that showcases native plants from South Florida, especially the Florida Keys. The American Orchid Society has called it home since 2012.
This garden has an abundance of ways to enjoy the beauty of tropical plants, while highlighting education and showcasing conservation. To learn more about Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden or to plan your own trip, visit their website here.