It seems like just last week, but nearly three months have passed since I visited the Miami area and many of their fantastic public gardens. As part of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) annual conference I took advantage of the chance to participate in a private gardens of Miami tour. Our first stop on that tour was to Patch of Heaven Gardens in Miami.
Not in the Miami you are thinking, this estate garden was about a 35 minute car ride from our hotel downtown. It is tucked among the agricultural lands that surround the urban areas of southern Florida.
From their website, some history on the estate:
Patch of Heaven Gardens is a unique private 20-acre estate located in the redland area of Miami-Dade county. It is a special place as it encompasses tropical hammock forest, pine rock-land, exotic gardens and historic structures. When one enters the premises through the hand wrought gate a sense of both spiritual oneness with nature and a serenity engendered by being apart from the urban milieu surrounds you. The property possesses a special sense of place being surrounded by old growth tropical hammock vegetation of which only small pockets remain in the world.
Our guides led us through the hammock area and to the newer garden areas which feature many pieces of foreign sculpture, carvings, fountains and water features. Oh the water features!
Let’s jump right in to the most memorable moment. The aqua marine water and lush landscaping seem like they are from another world.
This pool is carved from the natural limestone and rock outcrops of the ground. Miami-Dade county is known for having very shallow soil profiles in areas and, due to the limestone underneath, can also have poor drainage. The folks at Patch of Heaven Gardens have used this to their advantage to create beautiful gardens focused around these outcrops.
Along these pools the lush gardens are filled with specimen plants in all shapes and sizes. This torch ginger, Etlingera elatior, was just begging to have it’s photo taken!
The limestone steps and paths led the way as we walked through Patch of Heaven Gardens and explored one area after another. I appreciate the heft and stability of these massive pieces and, new or not, they give a timeless quality to the gardens.
Tucked throughout, small seating areas and sculptures just beckon for a photograph.
Just beyond, this Zen garden area features a long water “runnel” among stones where the bananas provide shade for the small cacao trees. An ambitious project, one of the goals of Patch of Heaven Gardens is to produce Florida’s only locally grown chocolate.
As Patch of Heaven Gardens evolves it is being utilized as an event and wedding venue of the highest exclusivity. The photo opportunities in this garden are endless!
The newest area of the gardens features more pools cut from the limestone, but with a very different feel. The block cuts seem off from the rest of the spaces, but create an interesting juxtaposition among the plants, fish and sky. The ferns growing along the stones soften these rather abrupt structures and help to extend the sense of calm from the main garden area.
And as you enter the pools…