1 The entrance to Vizcaya
2 Here I am with Dennis Fruitt, Vizcaya's Deputy Director for Advancement.
3 International Harvester Vice President James Deering (1859-1925) built Vizcaya, his winter home, between 1914 and 1922.
4 Now known as Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, this extraordinary estate is an accredited museum and National Historic Landmark belonging to the citizens of Miami-Dade County.
5 This is the east façade of Vizcaya's Main House, which was designed after an Italianate villa.
6 Vizcaya was designed with its grandest façade facing the water in the manner of the great mansions of the Veneto region of Italy. Here I am with Ian Simpkins, Chief Horticulturist and Dennis Fruitt.
7 The decorative railings were designed by master blacksmith Samuel Yellin.
8 This is the view from the back entrance. This magnificent estate sits right on Biscayne Bay.
9 To protect the mansion from rising tides, a stone barge was constructed in the bay as a breakwater.
10 Designed by Stirling Calder, it's titled "Trials and Tribulations of the Sea". The barge is adorned with statues, obelisks, and has ornate mermaids carved at the bow and stern.
11 The estate's waterfront includes a Venetian bridge and a lattice-domed Tea House with mangrove beyond.
12 This is the northern sea arm, looking out to Biscayne Bay and Key Biscayne, past one of the pair of Venetian bridges and the yacht landing.
13 Dripping with artificial stalagtites and flanked by potted Sour Orange trees, the Secret Garden grotto mimics a natural cave.
14 Statuary is everywhere!
15 This fountain is part of one of the twin cascades, leading from the entry piazza to the arrival court.
16 Staghorn ferns, like this massive one, abound throughout the estate.
17 A giant Platycerium bifurcatum (Staghorn Fern) attached to a Live Oak. This plant weighs about 200 pounds when wet!
18 A European fountain
19 This is the courtyard, the functional center of Vizcaya. Once open to the elements, it has been enclosed with a glass roof to help protect the house's contents.
20 In 2012, Vizcaya replaced the 1980s skylight over the Courtyard of the Main House. This covering provides an all-season location for special events.
21 Denise Fruitt and a view of Biscayne Bay beyond
22 This is one of four 19th century doors and door surrounds from the demolished Torlonia Palace in Rome, located in the East Loggia.
23 Suspended from the East Loggia ceiling, this is a model of a Caravel, made in 1916 in NYC. James Deering loved boats.
24 A giltwood and glass chandelier hangs in the first floor Reception Room.
25 Even antique wall paper was bought in Europe and used in Vizcaya.
26 The gardens of Vizcaya are reminiscent of gardens created in 17th and 18th century Italy and France. The overall landscape design is conceived as a series of rooms.
27 These "teapot" style gazebos are covered in carefully trimmed and controlled Creeping Fig (Ficus repens) after the directive of the designer in the 1920's, and announce both corners of the Lily Pools.
28 Another view
29 Shining brilliant silver in the sun, these Madagascar-native Bismarck Palms (Bismarckia nobilis) were planted in the 1980's and are among the largest in South Florida.
30 A Florida native and larger relative of the Boston Fern, Macho fern (Nephrolepis biserrata) is an exuberant and widely used groundcover at Vizcaya.
31 This sphinx reminded me of the pair at Skylands, my home in Maine.
32 The Strangler Fig is named because the bird-deposited seeds will germinate in the crook of an existing tree. The seedling will grow as an epiphyte until it roots into the soil. Then it'll continue to grow ever larger until it chokes out its host.
33 This giant Staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) was a huge 300-pound ball when it was donated to Vizcaya. It was cut in half, hollowed out, and mounted to this Live Oak, and the other half was mounted to a Royal Palm in the Fountain Garden.
34 The Rose Garden is also known as the Fountain Garden because of this 16th-century Italian fountain at its center. Surrounded by a protective Mangrove forest, the Sutri Fountain is the crowning jewel of the gardens, and recently restored with a grant from the Tiffany Foundation.
35 This is the other half of the giant Staghorn Fern! It's attached to a Royal Palm tree. On the other side of the Merboy Fountain (carved to resemble the Bahamian workers that helped build the gardens of Vizcaya), is the 4th largest Royal Palm in Florida!
36 These Australian Pine topiaries are survivors! The trees have been potted since 1922; surviving countless hurricanes. They were recently dug out and rejuvenated, and potted into custom made terra-cotta Impruneta vaso festonato pots, replacing the cracked and broken originals.
37 All these Australian Pine topiaries are trimmed by hand to retain their feathery appearance. Underneath the trees are Aloe 'Christmas Carol' and Aloe 'Pink Blush'.
38 These stairs, framed by rusticated stucco and stone walls, were designed with ramps to accommodate gardeners' carts and wheelbarrows.
39 Cycas debaoensis, an extremely rare and endangered Cycad. This prehistoric plant grows on limestone cliffs in its native China. Behind it are the incredible hot pink flowers of Begonia 'Joe Hayden'
40 This structure is called The Casino, an open air structure that was built as a place to enjoy the view of the gardens and the house.
41 This is the ceiling of the loggia of the Casino, which was painted in the Italian Renaissance style by Swiss painter Paul Thévenaz.
42 The Garden Mound is crowned with a mantle of gnarled old Live Oak trees, some of which are approaching 200 years old! These trees were dug from other properties as mature trees, brought to Vizcaya, and winched to the top of the mound where they were planted and remain today.
43 Gracefully proportioned steps lead from the Garden Mound to the South Canal.
44 This is the rusticated entrance to one of a pair of grottos with carvings by Edoardo Cammilli.
45 The spectacular interior of the Garden Mound grottoes were created to resemble the fanciful grottoes of Italy. The shells were collected in the 1910's from the Florida Keys and the Bahamas.
46 The wall fountains, dry until the plumbing can be restored, drip cool water into the basin, making the sultry air feel a bit cooler. It's festooned with endangered Maidenhair fern and Southern Shield fern.
47 The centre island of Vizcaya appears to be floating in its own pool of water. The rectangular pool is surrounded with these coral stone urns, which are planted with Neoregelia 'Sheba'.
48 The South Forecourt Gate, one of a pair flanking either side of the Forecourt Oval, Vizcaya's main entrance today.
49 A view from the Secret Garden through the gazebos of the East Statuary Walk.
50 The center of the Secret Garden is crowned with a giant specimen of Crinum 'Queen Emma Supreme'. This plant has only been here for 4 years, planted from a 24-inch pot! The vibrant colored plants flanking it are yellow Sanchezia speciosa (Peruvian Candle), and fuschia Cordyline 'Red Sister' (Ti Plant).
51 The wall pots of the Secret Garden were created to hold plants from Vizcaya's orchid collection, which proved unsuitable. Today they hold succulents, which thrive in the bright sunlight and salt air, such as these threadlike Rhipsalis baccifera, Aloe 'Blue Elf', and Aloe 'Grassy Lassie'.
52 Some of the wall pots feature tropical bromeliads like these Neoregelia 'Super Fireball' that spill over the sides in a fountain of color. Potted citrus, like the Key Lime tree next to me, are an integral part of any Italian garden.
53 The central niche and wall fountain in the Secret Garden is surrounded by a handsome shell and framed by brackets in the form of female herms. The elaborate bench was created out of spare parts - a fountain basin, various statuary pieces, and artificial fossilised coral pieces.
54 Looking into Vizcaya's French and Italian inspired gardens running over with European artifacts like this 18th-century French urn exploding with Aechmea blanchettiana 'Raspberry'.
55 Vizcaya is a popular photography spot for local girls' quinceaneras, a celebration of their 15th birthday. Ashley Perez is celebrating her 15th birthday with a photo shoot at Vizcaya.
56 Vizcaya is surrounded by two endangered subtropical forests, and boasts 9 national champion trees, the largest of their kind in the United States. While this giant Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea) is not a champ, it found an admirer!