Plantastic, fantastic Miami

My brother arrived into town last night for the holiday; he hasn’t been here since the recent pummeling by the hurricanes (Katrina and Wilma). It was too dark for him to really see the transformations, but he noted that the Gables seems denuded. Today, he ought to really get a good gander at the broken, humbled trees. What my brother is keen to see today is the strangeness of the beaten landscape. Things are opened up, raw and unmanicured.

Normally, Miami is a place where the vegetation is dominant. Roots will crack sidewalks, streets, and septic tanks. Decorative vines turn into trees if you don’t prune them, and they will grow out of your reach as fast as they can. People talk about the construction boom, sure, but I think that the landscaping business is really what makes this town tick. If you have a yard larger than a living room, there’s no way you can tackle it alone and still have a social life.

You can pretty much stick anything in the ground and grow it. All those timid houseplants which are tamed in the rest of the country become monsters here, ravenous. Unless, of course, they have a problem with too much water. Or heat.

Rarer tropicals feel at home too. Things which I’ve considered weeds have been like alien plants to my visiting friends from drier climes. An older family friend once took a guest to Fairchild Tropical Garden only to have the friend demand to leave; the friend had had an anxiety attack brought on by the plants–they were too sexual and threatening. Ever since hearing that story I’ve always taken guests to Fairchild, but they’ve always responded with wonder (could be a generational thing).

Pretty soon it will be the perfect confluence of plantastic/alienesque/suggestive events: Dale Chihuly at Fairchild. All the bulbous, pointy, fecund, stalky goodness an organic form lover could ever want. Plus! Extended night viewing–illuminated Chihuly glass and garden, dreamy . . .

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