Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly inside a cocoon, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden is being transformed behind a green construction tarp on its perimeter fence.
The garden has been closed to the public since June 2011 and will reopen in October with an entirely new look. “Our project is on time and on budget!” declares Laura Jamieson, executive director.
Designed by Miami-based landscape architect Raymond Jungles, that new look involves removing old walkways and structures that blocked garden paths and closed off views, regrading the site, relocating many existing palms and other trees, and planting additional specimen trees.
Mature live oak trees will frame a new entrance at the southeast corner of the garden. The redesign will create longer sight lines through the garden, and new vistas across a large water garden and wetland area.
Popular features remain
The redesign retains some of the garden’s most popular features, including the Japanese Garden’s distinctive red bridge, bamboo collection, and statues.
Also being kept is the Peggy Mackay Fountain, a tribute to the woman who served as exectuive secretary to 16 Miami Beach mayors from 1934 to 1978. Located near the entrance to the garden’s headquarters building, the fountain was designed by famed Miami Moderne architect Morris Lapidus, best-known for the Fontainebleau Hotel’s original design.
The garden was created as a city park in 1962 and occupies a 2.6-acre site across Convention Center Drive from the Miami Beach Convention Center. It has long been a pleasant place for convention attendees to take a break, breathe fresh air, and smell the flowers; and a popular venue for weddings and other special occasions, corporate receptions and meetings, concerts, and art exhibits.
Appeal and convenience
Now, the garden begins its second half-century with a new look and a more appealing and convenient site plan. “When the garden is complete, it will be very easy and enticing to circulate around the entire space,” Jungles says.
The City of Miami Beach owns the garden and paid for this $1.2 million landscape renovation through general obligation bonds. The city’s Capital Improvements Project Office is administering the renovation. The Miami Beach Garden Conservancy operates the garden.
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