A weekend to learn about gardens and landscaping

03/22/2014 12:00 AM

03/21/2014 4:34 PM

Whether your interest lies in the historic gardens of Vizcaya, the landscape along modernist Lincoln Road or the changes over time to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, you’ll learn something new April 12-13 during What’s Out There Weekend Miami.

“It’s our goal to teach people how to see and value the landscape that is all around us,” said Charles Birnbaum, founder and president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, the nonprofit group behind the event.

Dedicated to helping people see, understand and value landscape architecture and those who practice it, the foundation will provide free access to more 20 gardens in South Florida.

Guided tours “will educate participants about the history and design of the open spaces that they regularly pass or visit with family and friends,” said Miami landscape designer Raymond Jungles.

Jungles’ water garden and hammock in the 1100 block of Lincoln Road are on the program April 12. During this tour, participants will discover how he reinterpreted the work of Morris Lapidus, the original architect of Lincoln Road, who turned it into a pedestrian mall in 1960.

A tour April 13 will highlight the changes that modern culture has brought to the vision of William Lyman Phillips, who was responsible for Fairchild from 1938 until his death in 1966.

“If you join us, you’ll learn of Phillips’ remarkable legacy that makes the garden unique to our community,” said Joanna Lombard, professor of architecture at the University of Miami, who lead this tour as well as one at the University of Miami.

Other destinations include Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach, Little Havana in Miami and the Deering Estate at Cutler. Farther afield, there will be tours of Flamingo Gardens in Davie, the Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach and the Gardens at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach.

This weekend is the result of two years of planning, said Birnbaum, whose foundation has hosted similar events over the past 3 ½ years in 10 cities, including Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles.

“There’s a breadth and diversity of landscapes in Miami spanning a century or more of design and making this city unparalleled in the country,” said Birnbaum, explaining why he set his sights on South Florida.

It is estimated that more than 1,000 people will attend the tours, which are expected to be filled to capacity. But for those who don’t get a chance to participate, the information used to organize the weekend can be accessed through the foundation’s website on your smartphone.

A click on the “What’s in the Area” tab lets your phone’s GPS work with the site to discover what landscapes are located within a 25-mile radius. And whether you search the database on your phone or home computer, you can learn about 1,500 gardens nationwide, view 10,000 images of those gardens and study 750 profiles of their landscape designers.

“We leave this free website behind in perpetuity,” said Birnbaum.  

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