Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fairchild gardens mango festival a great success

The record breaking heat would not keep hundreds of cars lined up before opening early Saturday morning. By mid day, thousands of people were piled into the normally serene Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The quiet as a library environment instead was alive with sitars and tablas playing, babies and mothers giggling with delight tasting the mango ice cream.

India was the theme of this year’s mango festival and the air was filled with the aroma of mango curry. Bollywood dancers performed. Yoga classes were taught for children and adult. Vendors were aplenty, featuring mango this, mango that. Rare spices were featured as well as rare teas.

Free samples of Mango salsa, mango cake, and mango creampuffs were offered. Local bakers such as Joanna's Marketplace local chefs like Chef Allen were there signing books and handing out salsa. Local soap maker had mango soap, along with plenty of others. Macy’s handed out mango cannolis while promoting their catering service. A pie maker from Georgia offered samples of delicious mango pie.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Secret gardens revealed # 1

Nestled among charming homes in the Bell Mead neighborhood, Steve Hagen’s garden is unique. There is not a blade of grass. “Why grow and mow grass, when you can smell the roses! Not that I have roses, but most plants, bushes and trees store much more carbon than any blade of grass.”

When walking down the sidewalk, most of the other neighbors have grass and neatly boxed high maintenance cut shrubs. Steve has a wonderful tropical English style garden. Shrubs, trees and grownd covers converge and produce an amazing symphony of color texture and depth.

There are plenty of native trees and shrubs, mixed in with colorful flowering shrubs and palms. The meandering pathway to the front door leads us to a covered sitting area with inviting chairs
The backyard is a tropical paradise. There is a large fruiting mango tree, vines flowing up the palms and a wide assortment of shrubs and groundcovers as well. A stepping stone pathway meanders through the garden with a small wading pool off center acting as the focal point.

There is no sprinkler system in this lush paradise; the plants have to make it on their own. Steve hand waters when he has to on occasion. Many of the plants came as cuttings and samples from friends' gardens. Steve is the past chair of the Parks and Public Space Committee of Miami Neighborhoods United.

He is living proof of the magic that can be accomplished with a small amount of space without spending a king’s ransom. (Politicians take note.)