Rainforest Grotto now a reality at Gardens

By Lynn Willie Fichman….
The Community Garden Charitable Fund was formed in the spring of 2007 by a group of local citizens who recognize the importance of preserving the horticultural integrity of our public green spaces, particularly at Pinecrest Gardens.

The Garden Fund is a grass roots organization that works closely with Village of Pinecrest government in their efforts to maintain and enhance this diverse and rare property. Since its inception, the Garden Fund has attracted a wide range of supporters, has raised significant funds and has used those funds for specific improvement projects in Pinecrest Gardens. They have underwritten the purchase of hundreds of orchids, which now form part of a huge tree canopy, as well as the cleaning and refining of the colonnade section adjacent to the Garden’s meadow, the creation of the hidden garden pathway and seating area in the Hardwood Hammock, the cleanup and replanting of a large tract near Swan Lake, the purchase of much needed tools, all in addition to their newly completed latest project.

For the past five years, the Garden Fund has hosted the annual ‘Soiree in the Garden’ in Pinecrest Gardens in late February. This much anticipated event is the group’s biggest and most lucrative yearly fundraiser, and this year’s fete, which took place on Feb. 25, was one of the most memorable to date, highlighted by Julian Marley in concert in the newly refurbished Banyan Bowl. The Fund’s board members and volunteers worked for many months to create a flawless evening, and they came very close to achieving their goal as more than 300 guests were treated to cocktails, a silent auction, dinner, desserts and worldclass entertainment in one of the most spectacular settings in South Florida.

As soon as the event’s dust had settled, sights were immediately set on utilizing the funds that were raised. After careful consideration, and with the expert direction of horticulturist Craig Morrel, it was decided that three “pits” in the lower garden — once home to the alligators during Parrot Jungle days — held the potential to become lush wet gardens that would form a rain forest grotto consisting of ferns, alocasias and aquatic plants. It had been a rather barren site with no cohesive plant life or design, but with the generous help of Jim Lawrence of Galloway Farm Nursery, a design plan was enacted which pulls the three adjacent sections together, creating a wide and inviting vista.

The plan was presented to the Botanical Committee where it was enthusiastically embraced, next the Pinecrest Village Council agreed and finally, before work could begin, it was sent to the Miami Historical Review Board where it was approved.

Many months have passed since it was first conceived, but the “Rainforest Grotto” is now a reality. The project did not require removal of any plants, no removal of rock and no structural changes whatsoever, and it copies the design of other parts of the Garden where Pinnacle rock and plants intermingle. Once its growth cycle is complete, the area promises to be one of the most attractive and complimentary improvements that the Garden Fund has yet enacted. The lower garden is a lush compilation of winding pathways, water features, rock walls and waterfalls. It houses rare palms and plants from all over the world, and it is one of the most beautiful examples of what a tropical rain forest can become with the assistance of those who nurture it. The Garden Fund’s board of directors is gratified to have contributed to it in some small measure.

The Community Garden Charitable Fund is a not for profit 501c (3) organization, and all donations are tax deductable.

For information about volunteer opportunities, membership, upcoming events or to make a donation, contact the office at the Garden’s Whilden-Carrier cottage at 305-669-1028, email or visit.

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