As the Waterpoorter played its delightful songs and the dozens of vendors sold their wares today at the Garden Festival and Ramble, Jason Lopez, collections manager at the Garden, gave one of his wonderful walks to point out trees that David Fairchild collected.
Yes, the Ramble is a traditional fundraiser for the Garden, begun by Nell Montgomery Jennings herself, yet the Garden's importance still lies in its plants and their conservation. Lopez has researched those remaining in the Garden that Fairchild gathered on the Cheng Ho Expedition in 1939-40 in the South Pacific and on other collecting trips.
Bulnesia arborea, one of the garden's flowering trees, is commonly known as verawood and widely used in landscaping throughout South Florida. Fairchild collected seeds of this tree in Venezuela and introduced it to this country. It is covered with beautiful yellow flowers a couple of times each year.
Barringtonia racemosa, which Fairchild predicted would make a good shade tree, has turned out to be a large shrub where it is planted by one of the Garden's lakes. Long racemes of flowers, at right, are nocturnal, fragrant at night and bat pollinated. It came from Luzon, the Philippines, collected as a seed on Nov. 8, 1939.
A Central and South American tree that Fairchild found in Summit Nature Preserve in Panama is related to jabotocaba and is called the blue grape tree. Three of these Myrciaria vexator specimens grow together, and have proved durable and worthy. The bark is chocolate brown and suede white, which makes it outstanding even if you don't like to lychee-like fruit.
One of the most beautiful trees in the arboretum is Ficus subcordata, called Fairchild's fig. Its roots are above the rocky ground, making this support system not only visible but a visual feast. It is one of the glories of the arboretum. Jason is pictured below standing next to the fig.