Day Three: More South Miami Gardens
For those who have been following the Laidback Gardener blog, this is the third and final day of the media tour organized by the FNGLA (Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscapers Association) for members of the Garden Writers Association, a tour that took place from January 17 to 19 2017.
Again, the weather was perfect: warm but not hot, and sunny with only a few clouds.
As with Day 1, we headed south of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting our visits in Miami.
Our first stop was at a development called Hyde Beach Resort and Spas where GSky® Plant Systems, a leading provider of living green walls, was installing a huge green wall of 5800 square feet (540 m2) on the front of a commercial building around a giant “H” logo.
This was not your typical green wall with plants inserted into a panel, but rather used climbing plants grown in containers that give cover by climbing up trellises. The two plants used were pandora vine (Pandorea jasminoides) and confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). Of course, these plantings are very, very young (only weeks old at the most and indeed, the planting is still on-going), but the trellises should disappear under flowers and foliage within a year.
Aqualina Resort & Spa
This is a very luxurious resort complex, with individual units selling for millions of dollars. We stopped in to see two green walls, one indoors in the sales unit, the other outdoors, but the director eventually invited us in to visit the sample unit, so why not? The rooms were gorgeous, with spectacular views over the beach and a chinchilla throw on the couch.
Tropical Miami Garden
Our next visit was to a private garden south of Miami. Built around a multi-level home with terraces, all designed by architect Max Strang, it was planned to have a bit of a wild look to it: no hedges that need constant shearing and plenty of native plants to act as a buffer. We visited with Brian Rodgers of Avalon Gardens, the full-service landscape design and installation company that installed and maintains the landscape.
We ate our lunch on the bus as we headed to our next stop, Bullis Bromeliads in Princeton, southwest of Miami. This is a brand-new facility for the Bullis family, opened only last year, but the company was founded in 1977. Still family-owned, we were greeted by two members of the 4th generation… the rest of the family was busy at the TPEI show the day of our visit.
I’m known of Bullis Bromeliads for a long time. After all, I collect bromeliads and Bullis bromeliads show up all over the USA and Canada! They’re renowned wholesalers and hybridizers of these “tank plants”, especially aechmeas, alcantareas and neoregelias. Some of their hybrids are classics: Aechmea ‘Blue Tango’, Neoregelia ‘Donger’ (which I’ve grown for years), Aechmea ‘Del Mar’ and many others. They currently have 400 varieties available under vast shade houses and greenhouses.
We visited their main farm where shade houses stretch out as far as the eye can see. We were given a great tour of the establishment and answers to all our numerous questions. We could even buy plants at wholesale prices! Plus there were beautiful gardens to discover with many unusual plants and trees.
Bullis Bromeliads is not normally open to visitors, but maybe you would wrangle a visit. Here’s their web site: bullisbrom.com.
Block Botanical Gardens
I’ve often thought of my home garden as a sort of mini-botanical garden. Well, Jeffrey S. Block, who in real life is world-renowned anesthetist and researcher, has done just that: turned his yard into a private botanical garden. It is jammed with exotic plants, including a wide range of palms, cycads, bromeliads, aroids and orchids: you name it and he probably has it! There are even a few national champion trees!
Jeffrey Block toured with the group and showed us the highlights of his garden, explaining how he developed his award-winning garden over the last 27 years.
I absolutely adored this garden! I’m sure I had a smile that stretched from ear to ear when I visited, I was that happy. I’m postive I’ll dream of this garden for years to come!
Block Botanical Gardens is open to visitors by appointment… and to be honest, if you’re a plant nut visiting the Miami region, this is one garden you simply shouldn’t miss. Here are the coordinates:
Address: Block Botanical Gardens
7299 SW 79 Court
Miami, FL 33143
Web site: www.blockbotanicalgardens.com.
This brings this 3-day saga to an end. I began writing this last text at the Fort Lauderdale Airport, continued at the Montreal Airport and am now finishing it from the warmth and comfort of my basement office as a cold wind howls outside. What trip! What extraordinary plants! And I’m just soooo happy!
I must absolutely thank the FNGLA (Florida Foliage, Growers and Landscape Association) and especially Jennifer Nellis and Sylvia Gordon, for putting this tour together for us and accompanying us on our visits. It was a truly remarkable garden tour and one which will, I’m sure, be repeated next year. If you’re interested, become a member of the Garden Writers Association and get your name on the list. GWA is “The Association for Garden Communicators”, so if you communicate in any way about gardening, be it as an educator, master gardener, lecturer, photographer, nursery employee, or actual journalist or writer, you really owe it to yourself to join.