Friday, June 3, 2011

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Public gardens are some of the best kind of public spaces, and I was lucky to stumble across one recently: the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. The tall wrought-iron gates were open, so I stepped past them into the lush, tamed jungle, looking around at the green and pink and white as though I was collecting colors, and wondered which way to go first. A young couple was to the right, peering over a flowered bush, so I went left. Finding a garden isn't something that happens to me a lot, so I allowed myself the rare chance to wander. And possibly get lost.

Getting lost turned out not to be a possibility, because the garden covers half of a small block (shared with the Holocaust Memorial) -- surrounded by development on all sides. A half-mile to the west is the Intracoastal, and a half-mile to the east is the Atlantic Ocean. The paths in the garden start out paved and well-marked, then become walkways of various surfaces, eventually winding down into grass where no path is visible. I couldn't have lost my way in the garden, but there are enough solitary places that you could sit and think, and not believe that just past the gates is a large parking lot.

The Miami Beach Botanical Garden, like Miami Beach, is eclectic. The garden displays its Art Deco side:

Its sensual side:

And an Asian side:

There are areas of the garden where you're not quite sure where you are, or which could be anygarden:

Miami Beach Botanical Garden also displays some of the flowers and plants that could only be grown in a subtropical place, such as Miami Beach: miniature pomegrantes,


Frangipani (which are used to make leis),

And many other flowering plants, bushes and small trees that are right at home in South Florida.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden seems to be a popular place to hold events, and to some people, that may be all the small garden is worth. It's not a place to bring young children for an outing, only because they wouldn't find it fun. But a person who simply wants to step into a beautiful space for a while will find the garden a haven.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden is at 2000 Convention Center Drive (across from the Miami Beach Convention Center and back-to-back with the Holocaust Memorial), open 9 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free.