IN THE PAST FEW YEARS Coconut Grove has gone through a revitalization and thousands of people who never considered it an option as a neighborhood have moved there. What used to be a rundown main street, now is lined with Michelin star restaurants and gorgeous boutiques. When we visited Yeliz Titiz, the owner of the gorgeous Bazaar Project in Coconut Grove, we happened upon the Kampong Gardens.
We had no idea what was behind the large iron entry gate, but as we drove through, we were immediately stunned by a colossal banyan tree – neither of us had ever seen one so big. We put down the windows in awe and took in the sights and smells of tropical flower and fruit trees lining the entry road. We parked our car and both felt like we had entered another world. We walked up to an intricately carved Balinese staged entryway (with dragons overhead) of what we learned had been David Fairchild’s personal estate.
He had traveled through Asia and the world collecting plants that could be introduced here. Did you know Fairchild brought about 30,000 plant species into the US? With our numbered self-guided tour map, we spent the next hour and a half walking the property in amazement. We saw scattered cottages previously used to invite dignitaries, now used for researchers and students, and a beautiful outdoor pavilion that can be rented out for parties. We followed our map through a winding path under a canopy of well-marked flora and fauna which opened up to a spectacular lawn facing Biscayne Bay. This is a magical place filled with Florida history and a great place to visit and escape for a few hours – make a reservation.