Vizcaya

Last week, I visited Miami along with five of my garden-blogger friends, hosted by Troybilt.  We had two days together, packed with activities including building a community garden, which I’ll tell you about later.  

The first part of our trip took place at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

A Visit to the Italian-Inspired Gardens of Vizcaya

I had flown on the red-eye from Phoenix to Miami and was running on 2 hours of sleep when we arrived at Vizcaya.

Though I was running on empty by the time I arrived at Vizcaya, once I entered the Italian-inspired gardens, I felt like I had stepped onto an European estate and I was instantly re-energized and ready to explore.

We all enjoyed a personal tour of the house (no picture-taking allowed in the house).  While the mansion was beautiful – I am a gardener through and through – not an interior decorator, so I was anxious to get out and see the gardens.

My friend, Steve Asbell (who has a blog called The Rainforest Garden) accompanied me as we explored the gardens.  His knowledge of tropical plants would prove invaluable as he showed me many of his favorite plants in the gardens.

Italian gardens

The gardens were created to mimic the look and feel of Italian gardens, using plants adapted to Miami’s warm, tropical climate.

I really felt as if I was in Europe as we strolled through the gardens.

I would love to share with you some of the beautiful plants and areas of the gardens in the photos below.

Enjoy!

Biscayne Bay

As we stepped out of the house, we were greeted by the sight of Biscayne Bay and a stone barge that was built as a breakwater to help protect against the rising tide.

Euphorbia tirucalli 'Firesticks'

Although there are quite a few differences between gardening in the tropics and the desert – there are quite a few plants that grow well in both places.

The first plant that I recognized was Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’, which is a huge favorite of many desert dwellers.  I have two growing from cuttings in my own garden.

Venetian- style bridge

A tea house stood amidst a backdrop of mangroves that was accessed by crossing a Venetian- style bridge.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)

This beautiful, flowering perennial is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha).  I have seen it grown as an annual during a visit to the White House and as a perennial here in AZ.  In Florida, it also grows as a perennial.

I really love the red backdrop, which really makes the fuzzy, purple flowers ‘pop’ visually.

secret garden

Every garden should have a ‘secret garden’ don’t you think?

Italian-Inspired Gardens

A decorative stairway leads down to the secret garden of Vizcaya where colorful plants include yellow Peruvian Candle (Sanchezia speciosa) while the fuchsia plants are a variety of Ti Plant (Cordyline ‘Red Sister’).

Italian-Inspired Gardens

Wall pots held a variety of succulents.

Italian-Inspired Gardens

I fell in love with the colorful Kalanchoe luciae ‘Fantastic’ growing alongside a ‘Blue Elf’ Aloe (which is often seen in desert gardens).

*I have a Kalanchoe growing in a container, but it is not this colorful variety. 

Italian-Inspired Gardens

Formally-pruned shrubs form a maze in the center of the gardens.

Italian-Inspired Gardens

A row of statues flanked the walkway, which is a design element that I really love to see in large gardens.

Italian-Inspired Gardens

Barefoot in the garden.

Italian-Inspired Gardens

You could easily think you are in Spain as you view this formal fountain and the palm trees in the background.

Notice the Australian Pine trees in the pots?  They are old!  These trees were last repotted in 1922.  

Italian-Inspired Gardens

Water is a vital element in many large gardens. 

Italian-Inspired Gardens
Italian-Inspired Gardens
Italian-Inspired Gardens

A hill was installed across the garden from the house to block the sun’s rays.  The narrow tracks in the middle were created so that the gardeners could get their wheelbarrows up the steps of the hill.

Italian-Inspired Gardens

At the top of the hill stood this stone planter with some very pretty plants – I have no idea what they are, but that didn’t stop me from admiring them just the same.

the Casino

At the top of the hill stood the ultimate patio, or as it is called in Vizcaya – ‘the Casino’ where guests could sit outdoors in the shade.  

Here in the desert, we would add misters, which would make it a great place to hang out in the summer.  

A Visit to the Italian-Inspired Gardens of Vizcaya

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of our garden tour.  Next time, we will explore a ‘spooky’ forest, view another secret garden and see an orchid garden.

* My trip to Miami and the gardens of Vizcaya was a result of my being one of the Saturday6 – a group of six garden bloggers brought together by Troybilt.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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