Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden welcomes the 90 yr old organization
Construction is underway for a new greenhouse to house the orchid
collection from the American Orchid Society.
Thousands of visitors walk the 83 acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden each year to view the
world’s largest collection of palms and cycads. Now the garden is about to get a big name in
horticulture to add to its offerings – the American Orchid Society headquarters. Construction
of a new greenhouse is currently underway to hold the massive orchid collection that is being
transferred from the former AOS location in Delray Beach to Coral Gables.
Tight economic conditions have even plant groups consolidating in order to serve the public
more efficiently. Fairchild prides itself on ‘exploring, explaining, and conserving the world of
tropical plants.” The American Orchid Society’s mission is to “promote and support the passion
for orchids through education, conservation, and research.” With similar goals, the marriage of
these two horticultural heavy hitters is built to last.
Visitors to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden are greeted with this
stunning 100 year old Schomburgkia species.
Coral Gables is one of the loveliest areas in South Florida. Located just a mile or two from the
University of Miami and less than a half hour drive from dozens of commercial orchid growers,
Coral Gables boasts grandiose turn of the century homes that have withstood countless
hurricanes. Just 30 miles south in Homestead, Hurricane Andrew decimated the entire orchid
industry in 1991.
This is will be the 4th location for the AOS since its inception in 1921. Originally housed at
Harvard University’s Peabody Botanical Museum, the fledgling organization moved to West
Palm Beach in 1981 after former AOS President Lewis Vaughn and his wife gave their residential
estate and greenhouses. Then in 2001, the AOS made a bold move to Delray Beach and built a
five acre ‘tourist attraction style’ tropical garden and visitor’s center. As the economy waned
and membership revenues dropped, the AOS has been forced to sell its once promising site and
move yet again.
Fairchild gets its name from a prominent plant explorer Dr David Fairchild (1869-1954) who
traveled the world in search of useful plants. He was also a renowned scientist and created a
section within the United States Department of Agriculture. Fairchild “brought back hundreds
of important plants including mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, dates, cotton, bamboos and the
flowering cherry trees that grace Washington, D.C.” He and several friends created the tropical
garden which opened to the public in 1938.
Hobbyists now get the best of both worlds with the new American Orchid Society/Fairchild
Tropical Botanic Garden arrangement. The venture is open every day except Christmas from
9:30am to 4:30pm. In addition to the orchid conservatory, there are free tram tours, a fine
Garden Café, and a unique gift shop. Visit www.fairchildgarden.org as well as www.aos.org for