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I have been enjoying sharing with you about my recent trip to the beautiful gardens of Vizcaya, located in Miami, Florida. The trip and garden visit came as a part of my partnership with the folks at Troy-Bilt.  These gardens are inspired by Italian gardens and use plants that thrive in tropical climates.


Last time, we explored the secret garden, climbed up the man-made hill and saw a most magnificent, covered patio.


Today, I invite you to journey with me as we explore the gardens further…

 
The second part of our garden journey begins at the top of the man-made hill, looking toward the house.
 

 

On top of the wall, are examples of the stonework present throughout the gardens.  Most of it was made from limestone, which had a real ‘aged’ appearance.
 
 
This is a photo that I shared on my Instagram account of the mangrove forest.
 
Mangroves are trees that grow along coastal areas in the tropics in areas where most other plants cannot grow because of the salty water.  They are an important of the ecosystem and help to prevent erosion.
 

 

*Imagine how spooky this area would look on a foggy day?
 
 

 

A large staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) was mounted from the side of a Royal Palm tree.  They are epiphytes, which mean that they get water and nutrients from the air and not from the host plant.
 
When wet, this large staghorn fern can weigh up to 200 pounds!
 
 
 If you look carefully, you can Spanish moss hanging from the Southern Live Oak, which also grow in the desert – they just don’t get as big here.
 
*Did you know that Spanish moss is NOT a moss?  It is another example of an epiphyte and gets its water and nutrients from the air.  I have some from my trip to Savannah, Georgia last year that I used to make a terrarium.
 
 
A brown anole, which is a lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas.  They are considered an invasive species in Florida.
 
 
This is a green anole, which is NOT considered invasive.


**A special thanks to my friend and garden companion, Steve Asbell, who explained the difference between these two lizards.
 
 

More examples of the statuary throughout the garden with ferns in the background.



Orchids grew naturally outdoors, which made me slightly jealous, although I have been able to grow them indoors.





There were even orchids growing in trees, which is where they are often found growing in the wild.  Most cultivated orchids are epiphytes, which means that they get their water and nutrients from the air.



As we neared the end of our journey through the garden, we encountered a fence with vines growing all over it concealing another secret garden.  There was a small hole, so I peeked through.



Looking through the hole, I saw another area of the garden that was closed off from the public.  I’m not sure if there are any plans to open this section called the Marine Garden, but I definitely wanted to explore it further.

 
As our time in the garden ended, I was so grateful to have been given the chance to view such a beautiful place.
 
I hope you enjoyed this ‘virtual’ tour.  If you are ever in Miami, I encourage you to take time to explore the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
 
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If you want to explore this garden further and learn more about its history, check out my friend Steve’s latest blog post.
 
Next time, I will share with you our next Floridian adventure, which was to create a community garden.  While vegetable gardening is much the same wherever you live (except for the plsnyinh calendar) we did encounter an unusual barrier, which I will share in my next post.
 
*I traveled to Miami as part of a group called the Saturday6, which is a group of six garden-bloggers from around the country brought together by the folks at Troybilt.

 

 

 

**An Advisory – Please do not enlarge photos until finished reading the entire post.**
Last weekend, my husband and I did the unthinkable….we left our kids with their grandparents and went to Las Vegas.  We had originally planned a trip to Sedona, which is located in Northern Arizona, but the roads were closed due to three consecutive storms that had dumped 3 – 4 ft. of snow.  So, we decided to go somewhere where there would not be any snow.

On the way, we journeyed through the Joshua Tree Scenic Drive which I posted about here.  It was windy and rainy and the mountains along the way were dusted with snow.  I was excited to take a lot of photos of the desert along the way as well as the gardens around the hotels in Las Vegas.
As we arrived in Las Vegas, it was to a spectacular sight…the mountains surrounding the city were covered with a thick layer of snow.
The place I was most excited about visiting was the 90,000 sq. ft. Conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, which has beautiful displays that are changed continually.  The theme for this time of year was the Chinese New Year. 

The Conservatory was covered in countless species and varieties of orchids along with bromeliads, bamboo, moss and so much more.  There were easily over 200 different orchids there.
I was in absolute heaven and took about 100 pictures.  I couldn’t wait to download them so that I could share them with you all.

After I returned home, I eagerly downloaded my pictures.  I couldn’t wait to post my fabulous orchid photos.  As I clicked on each photo, I wanted to cry….over 95% of my pictures were blurry and out of focus.  
*I bet some of you thought I was disappointed that I did not win a lot of money –  but it is hard to win a lot of money when you only spent $25 on slot machines ;^) 

You see, just before our trip, I had just picked up my camera from the camera repairman, where I had just had the memory card slot repaired.  Now, it was just too much of a coincidence that our camera was not working as it should so we went back to him.  It turns out that the repairman had inadvertently messed up how the image in the viewfinder looks as opposed to how the image appears to the lens.  He fixed it quickly and was extremely apologetic.

Only a few photos turned out okay and you are seeing all of them, except for a couple that I am saving for a Chinese New Year’s post.

I hope you can see from this extremely small sampling how beautiful the Conservatory was.  
**Okay, you can now enlarge the photos to view them if you like, now that you have been warned that despite my best Photoshop efforts that some are still a bit out of focus.