Gardening in Miami


MiamiMiami is one of those cities that has its own gardening aesthetic. You could be smuggled into the city in the trunk of a car, dropped along the side of the road, and all you’d have to do is get a look at the flora to know where you are. It’s so insanely tropical, so dizzyingly bright and cheery and exotic, and so unlike anywhere else.

If there are any Miami gardeners out there, I ask you:  Do tropical plants start to feel tyrannical after a while? Do you tire of the palm trees, the birds-of-paradise, the bougainvillea?  Do you ever long for something more serious, less jubilant?

I don’t know. It’s all so cheerful, so uncomplicated, so mindlessly festive.  Is that a bad thing?

I flew to Miami from DC last February, and I understood immediately why people on the east coast are driven to winter in Florida.  To go from ice and snow to warm, tropical nights and brilliant orange flowers–ah, it felt so damn good. I strolled around an open-air shopping mall near my hotel, where the Carribean music and artificial coconut and bay rum fragrance seemed to be piped out of the shrubs, and I didn’t care.  I loved it.  I drank mojitos and spoke Spanish to the Cuban waiters.   Damn, it felt good.

As you read this, I’ll be arriving in Miami to investigate its pleasures further.  Any Miami readers out there?  Please drop by the Miami Book Fair and say hello.  The schedule is here–looks like I’ll be in room 7106-07 at 11 am on Sunday.  See you then!


  1. I am a novice gardener in Los Angeles, and you can just substitute LA for Miami re the same types of plants!! It sounded like you were describing my neighborhood to a “t”. It is a challenge to create a non-tropical-style garden in my yard, but I’m sure trying. Plus, I have family in Florida so when I visit them, I can’t escape the same landscape elements. The longer I live in southern California, the more I miss fall foliage and all of the different tress, shrubs and flowers I grew up with back there. Loved this rant and your blog! Best of luck at the Miami Book Fair, too.

  2. I have lived all over Florida, south, central, and north. I will say that I never really gave much thought to the tropical flora until I didn’t have it anymore. In fact I tended to look for the more ‘exotic’ northern plants.

    Now that I live near Seattle seeing a hibiscus or an ornamental citrus ‘tree’ makes my day. Go figure.

  3. Ft. Lauderdale here, but have lived in Miami as well.

    No, I don’t get tired of it. I think there are some plants that are over used, ie: crotons, but that goes with any landscaping anywhere. It’s pretty nice. Our best seasons is Oct-May, though the summer has its good points. We get tomatoes now while everyone else is putting away their garden.

    There’s a lot of good gardening places to visit while in Miami: Fruit and Spice Park, Fairchild Gardens, driving along Krome Avenue to all of the nurseries along the way.

    I certainly don’t tire of it!

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