A Garden Party with Dr. David Fairchild and His Favorite Fruit
by Janet Mosely
David Fairchild observing mangosteen flowers at Summit Garden, Panama. March 25, 1933
August 18, 1945 was a hot, still day filled with mosquitos. That did not deter over 300 garden friends from coming to enjoy a magical fruit introduction orchestrated by Dr. Fairchild. The arrival of mangosteens from Lancetilla, Honduras was the culmination of many years collaboration, hard work and dreaming. Dr. Fairchild announced to the crowd that hot August day "This is a great moment for me. Fifty years ago (in 1895) I tasted a mangosteen in the great garden of Buitenzorg in Java and selected it as, for me at least, the most delicate of all fruits. I made up my mind then that I would introduce it into the United States. Fifty years is a long time. But this is the day."
Dr. Fairchild's prized mangosteens were grown by Wilson Popenoe at Lancetilla and flown in that day, arriving in Miami at noon to be served at five o'clock. Early in the days of the development of refrigerated cargo, the arrival of fresh fruit from so far away was a novelty in and of itself. That it was the fabled favorite fruit of Dr. Fairchild made the tasting even more special. Added to the day's festivities was the very first Fairchild exhibit of Lee Adams' watercolors. He brought his newly finished mango portraits to be admired by the crowds of Fairchild Fellows. The combination of Dr. Fairchild's enthusiasm; the thrill of tasting the exotic mangosteen for the first time; seeing Adams' artwork and enjoying each other's fellowship made for a magical day that has been long remembered by those who attended.
If anyone has photos from this momentous day and would like to share them with us, please contact Nancy Korber, Fairchild Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-667-1651 ext. 3424.
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Please contact the Archivist for permission to use or reproduce photographs.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Center for Tropical Plant Conservation
11935 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156 USA
tel. 305/667-1651, ext. 3424