1 One morning, while in Miami, we stopped by lapis, the exquisite spa at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It is a wonderful place to relax, exercise, and be pampered with an extraordinary menu of wonderful facial and body treatments. This is the blue desk where one signs in.
2 The spa has a couple wonderful stores offering a wide assortment of products - beachwear, resort wear, excellent makeups, face and body creams, lotions, masks, and sunblocks.
3 The spa is in a newly constructed portion of the vast historic hotel. Built of marble and glass, it is very quiet, restful, and luxurious. This is the jacuzzi.
4 Long marble corridors lead to treatment rooms, steam rooms, rain showers, soaking tubs, and rest areas.
5 Marble chaises with comfortable cushions and towels are strategically placed. Plan on spending at least a day here, if you want a great experience.
6 Sliced cucumbers, kept icy-cold, are for placing on tired eyes in the steam room or jacuzzi. (Don't tell anyone, but I thought they were a healthy snack!)
7 This is the rain room. As one walks through, rain, in different temperatures, falls from the ceiling. It is a great experience and I wanted to stay there for hours, but we had a fabulous garden to visit!
8 We arrived at the grounds of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. David Fairchild (1869-1954) was one of the greatest plant explorers of all time. At the age of 22, he created the Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the US Department of Agriculture.
9 A giant clumping of cycads - After that, Fairchild traveled the world for the next 37 years in search of plants of potential use to the American people.
10 Fairchild's far-reaching travels brought into cultivation in the US many important plants, including mangoes, alfalfa, nectarines, dates, horseradish, bamboos, and flowering cherries.
11 Another cycad - Dr. Fairchild retired to Miami in 1935, sharing his vast knowledge and experience in tropical plants with Col. Robert H. Montgomery.
12 And another cycad - Robert H. Montgomery founded the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG), naming it to honor his friend.
13 Many plants still growing in the Garden were collected and planted by Dr. Fairchild, including....
14 This giant African baobab tree not far from the entrance.
15 In 1940, Dr. Fairchild embarked on the first official collecting expedition for FTBG, sailing from the Philippines to the Indonesian archipelago on a special oceangoing Chinese Junk called the Cheng Ho.
16 That voyage provided many of the early botanical specimens before the outbreak of World War II forced the explorers to return home.
17 An orange trumpet type of vine - Robert H. Montgomery (1872-1953) was an accountant, attorney, and successful businessman with a passion for plant collecting.
18 A pink-flowering adenium arabicum from Saudi Arabia
19 A type of pony tail palm
20 With the guidance of David Fairchild, he pursued the dream of creating a botanical garden in Miami, the one place in the continental US where tropical plants could grow outdoors year-round.
21 Opened to the public in 1938, Fairchild was established on an 83-acre site south of Miami purchased by Col. Montgomery and later deeded in large part to Miami-Dade County.
22 A giant philodendron
23 A kapok Malvaceae Ceiba pentandra - Pantropical
24 A type of heuchera
25 Monkey's Apple Sapotaceae - Mimusops coriacea - neotropical
26 Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was designed by renowned landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, member of the Frederick Law Olmsted partnership, and the leading landscape designer in South Florida during the 1930s.
27 Assembling and maintaining an outstanding botanical collection has been a fundamental part of the institution's existence since 1938.
28 Even before Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was created, Montgomery and Fairchild dedicated themselves to collecting, documenting, and studying tropical and subtropical plants from around the world, especially the palms and cycads which are still the most significant Fairchild collections.
29 A type of alocasia - I have several of these in my tropical collection.
30 Orange-blooming Brownea capitella
31 The Palm and Cycad Collection is world-renowned, with species collected from all over the world, with many hundred accessions.
32 A gigantic type of pony tail palm
33 The fruit of Couroupita guianensis - cannonball tree
34 With a native lizard
35 The flowers of Couroupita guianensis - The cannonball tree is native to the Amazon.
36 This is a "sit-by-me" statue of the late great Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Freda Tschumy. A journalist, feminist, and environmentalist, Stoneman is known for her staunch and outspoken defense against efforts of draining the Florida Everglades for development purposes.
37 A grove of Sabal Causiarum, a fan palm native to Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the British Virgin Islands.
38 Since the 1930s FTBG has emphasized the expansion of plant knowledge through publications, education programs, and research in taxonomy, floristics, conservation biology, and ethno-botany.
39 Since 1938, FTBG has distributed plants and seeds both to fellow scientists and to members of the local community.
40 Fairchild palms, cycads, ornamentals, and fruit trees have been a source of new varieties for commercial growers and home gardeners alike.
41 The fantastic End of the Day Tower by glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly
42 Freycinetia cumingiana - Phillippines
43 Salacca magnifica - a genus of spiny palms native to Borneo
44 I took this shot for hanging plant inspiration.
45 Back outside, I was impressed with these towering fan palms.
46 Kigelia - Sausage Tree - native to the tropics of Africa
47 More amazing palms
48 Our guide through the gardens was Tom Abell, a cordial and knowledgeable volunteer.