Fairchild Class Building ©Author Adventures

David Fairchild

Our trail presents two locations historically linked to famed botanist and plant collector David Fairchild (1869-1954), author of the National Book Award-winning The World Was My Garden: Travels of a Plant Explorer (1938) and other non-fiction books about horticulture. His Book of Monsters was co-authored with his wife Marian Fairchild and published by the National Geographic Society (1914). It is available as a free downloadable e-book through gutenberg.org.

The Kampong and The Barnacle

A nationally designated garden connected to David Fairchild is The Kampong (4013 S. Douglas Road, Coconut Grove), which is part of the National Botanical Tropical Garden and is the third stop of our South Florida trail. (It is in walking distance of “The Barnacle,” the home and grounds established by Ralph Middleton Munroe in the late 1800s.)

David Fairchild owned this property for many years and eventually retired there. His home, which was built in 1928, entertained some of the most influential people in the world at the time, including Alexander Graham Bell (David Fairchild’s father-in-law), Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford. It can now be toured by appointment.

Fairchild orchid
©Author Adventures

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

A popular garden associated with David Fairchild is the immense Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables). An enchanting sanctuary of tropical plants and flowers, it is the seventh stop of our South Florida trail and a popular choice for visitors. Watch a video from our visit at https://youtu.be/xurm1yuBhM4.

Open every day except for Christmas, it offers many activities for families with children, including games, science labs, bird-watching, and crafts.

Remember to bring a sun hat, sun-screen, and camera. Take your first photo in front of the sprawling banyan trees next to the parking lot and save a shot for the old baobab tree once inside.

Baobab Tree ©Author Adventures

The tram tour, narrated by expert volunteers, should not be missed. Look for the rainbow tree, the giant baobab tree (just like the one in The Little Prince), and exotic plants Fairchild brought over from numerous countries around the world.

Standouts include the wide variety of orchids growing near cascading waterfalls, the butterfly aviary, the colorful Chihuly glass sculptures, and being able to cool off with a tropical lunch in the cafe. The gift shop offers something for every budget, from frozen treats to key lime cookie mixes to large Audubon-inspired puzzles. Between admittance, lunch, and the shop, allow yourself at least a couple of  hours there and anticipate spending approximately $50-60 per adult (less for children and seniors).

The Night Garden

If you visit during the holiday season, be sure to attend the holiday light show where the grounds are lit like a fantasy wonderland and a tree answers questions of visitors in real time. Find information here: https://www.thenightgarden.com.

©Author Adventures

Both of David Fairchild’s gardens are on Florida Author Adventures Trail #2. The Kampong is our third stop, and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is our seventh.

Patricia Smart