The moment you enter Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Fla., you are transported to the tropics. It is the only garden of its kind in the United States, encompassing 83 acres of rare tropical plant collections and native wildlife.
Just in case you've grown tired of the conversation about "bringing the inside out" or "bringing the outdoors in," you'll be glad to know that the topic is still being covered in a fresh way.
Terry Rakolta has no trouble reeling off words to describe what she desired for her South Florida waterfront property, a wedge-shaped half-acre mostly swallowed up by a Mediterranean-style villa. "I wanted charming, romantic, mysterious, Old World," she says. Rakolta and her husband, John, who use the property as a winter getaway, often joined by their four children and four—soon to be five—grandchildren, also wanted more privacy.
In honor of Father's Day, here's a hirsute tree that goes by the name Old Man Palm (Coccothrinax crinita). Covered in long fibers (crinita means hairy in Latin) that resemble a tremendous beard, the rare species is a favorite among palm collectors. The tree is also known as the "Old Man from Cuba," where it is native and endemic. I know what you're thinking—a beard under the Cuban sun? Why, it's a palm for Ernest Hemingway.
Last month, a fire destroyed an ancient tree in central Florida. At 3,500 years old, the Senator was one of the oldest bald cypress trees in the world, and, at 118 feet, one of the tallest east of the Mississippi. The tree was already 3,000 years old when Ponce de Leon named the land La Florida and it was a popular tourist attraction long before Walt Disney built his theme parks.
Here in Alys Beach, on the coast of Florida’s panhandle, the sun is so intense that even on a mid-September day my husband, David, and I wait until early evening before crossing over the pristine dunes with our infant daughter, Ailigh. The dusk light is a watercolor play of pinks and indigos washing over a reflective canvas of fine quartz particles, ground away from the Appalachian Mountains during the Ice Age and carried by the Apalachicola River into the Gulf.