Monday, January 17, 2011

Family Florida Trip - Part 2: The Kampong

Located in the Miami suburb of Coconut Grove, the Kampong is one of the five sites of the National Tropical Botanical Garden ( and the only one on the US mainland, since the other four are situated on the Hawaiian islands of Kaua'i and Maui. The house and garden were begun by Dr. David Fairchild and his wife Marian in 1916 and after their passing in 1954 and 1962, respectively, they were bought and further developed by the botanist Dr. Catherine Hauberg Sweeney, who eventually donated the property to the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Fairchild was a famous botanist plant explorer who managed the Department of Plant Introduction at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in nearby Coral Gables is named after him. The property takes its name from the Malay and Indonesian word for "village" and there is a notable Asian influence in the design of both the house and the garden.

View from the terrace to the Bay of Biscayne in the distance

View of the house and patio from the back of the property

A view towards the tennis court

The part of the garden that stretches from the back of of the house to the Bay of Biscayne is beautifully landscaped, with lawns framed by clumps of trees, beds of shrubs and curving hedges, and fences draped in colorful climbing plants. There are Japanese-style stone lanterns as decorative accents, and some seats placed rather romantically at the very tip of the property by the sea shore. The house, too, is quite decorative with low horizontal lines and its geometric red trim, all festooned in colorful bougainvilleas and other plants. A beautiful view into the garden unfolds from the little patio, where a small fountain trickles in the shade.

The patio

I love the pink-tinged white flowers - or rather bracts - of this variety of Bougainvillea

Pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) on the fence around the tennis court

Crimson passion flower (Passiflora vitifolia), another climber that graces the tennis court

The path to the seats by the sea

The other half of the garden located towards the road has a very different character, since it is filled with botanical collections that are still actively used for scientific research by visiting scholars and students. As a result, this area is much less manicured and dominated by clumps of trees, somewhat like an orchard. In fact, many of the trees are indeed fruit trees, such mangoes (Mangifera indica), avocados (Persea americana), and oranges (Citrus sinensis). There are are plenty of ornamental trees and shrubs, to be sure, but they are largely arranged in a more no-nonsense fashion than in the back garden, except around the parking lot and and the entrance to the house, which features a lily pond a decorative bed of bromeliads.

Euphorbia punicea - the inflorescence look a bit like miniature version of the related poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) but the plant is a much more graceful little tree

Starfruit (Averrhoa carambola)

Bauhinia x blakeana

A tropical waterlily (Nymphaea lotus) in the lily pond by the parking lot

A planting of bromeliads by the entrance to the house

The Kampong can be visited between 10 am and 2 pm from Tuesday through Friday. Visitors should call in advance, though we were told the place usually does not get crowded and even though we visited at the same time as a tour group it felt as if we had the garden to ourselves, so do not let the odd ours or the request to call ahead deter you. For more information, you can visit the garden's website here.


  1. The so beautiful place with peaceful environment. I never thought that name also synonym in US. I also stay in Malaysia. Maybe the environment is quite different but looks very similar. My new project this year is to build new kampong house with surounding with the tropical garden...hopefully everything going well.

  2. Very beautiful place! must have been a great trip

  3. That looks like an amazing garden, I wish I lived closer! I am so envious of that starfruit... too bad I can't grow it in my yard.

    I wanted to invite you to submit a post for the next issue of How to Find Great Plants. If you're interested, here's the link:

    If you don't have time to write a new post you can use one you've already written (such as your desert rose one). :)

  4. Appalachian Feet - Thanks for stopping by and for the invite! I will definitely try to contribute.

  5. Wow, very nice blog you have... very pleasing format and content-wise, ummm, good pictures and stories... congrats!
    Also, it is a big pleasure to see you visiting my blog...

  6. Lrong - Thanks for visiting and following my blog! I love the photography on yours!


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