GardenLady.com | A Visit To Patch of Heaven Gardens
There are many lessons to be learned from a beautiful venue such as Patch of Heaven Gardens.
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A Visit To Patch of Heaven Gardens

A Visit To Patch of Heaven Gardens

First of all, huge thanks to the FNGLA for making my visit to Patch of Heaven Gardens possible. They were kind enough to arrange for a group of garden communicators to visit several horticultural sites in Florida in January 2017. It was an amazing experience.

In this post I could tell you all the reasons you might want to book your wedding or horticultural event at Patch of Heaven. And if you live in Miami, I would encourage you to check into this special venue.

But I know that there are many who will never get to Miami to visit Patch of Heaven, let alone book a party or meeting there.  Nevertheless, there are things to be learned from this lovely property. Whether you have an unlimited budget, are living hand-to-mouth, or are somewhere in between, Patch of Heaven has something to say to us all.

The owners of Patch of Heaven have a vision: to grow cocoa trees in Florida. Cocoa isn’t typically grown in the US, even in our southern, warmest states. Cocoa plants are adapted to hot, humid tropical areas with evenly distributed rainfall. But the owners of Patch of Heaven had a dream to grow chocolate on this property, and they are cultivating Cocoa trees here in Miami.

What can the average homeowner or gardener learn from this? Well, I think it’s simple: if you have a dream, go for it. I can think of many examples where people were told that “this plant doesn’t grow here.” Yet they went ahead anyway, and pushed the limits…successfully.  The Cape Cod Lavender Farm, comes immediately to mind. Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha’s Vineyard started because Polly Hill wanted to see if shrubs and trees that were not thought to be hardy on the island would actually grow.

So take away #1 from Patch of Heaven is go for your dreams. 

In order to grow cocoa plants at Patch of Heaven, they needed some fast growth to shade the cocoa trees. So they planted banana plants that grow quickly along with some other trees. Once the bananas started to spread more than was desired, they cut them down and chopped up the foliage. So the fast growth of the banana plants did double duty. It shaded the baby cocoa plants early on, and then became a soil-amending mulch once the leaves and stems were chopped up.

Patch of Heaven takeaway #2: Use what you have, and don’t feel locked in to keeping a plant beyond its usefulness. No matter where you’re gardening, it’s OK to plant something for the short term, and then to say “Thanks for coming…goodbye!”

In Florida you can grow orchids as they do in the wild: they are epiphytes and thrive when grown in trees. So gardeners in the Miami area can position these plants on trunks and branches.

Patch of Heaven takeaway #3: We can always work with how plants grow naturally. But we can also use what we see to enhance our gardens no matter what type of plants we’re growing. Although northern gardeners can’t grow orchids in their landscape year-round, we can send them out into our shrubs and trees for “summer camp.” And we can also think about other hardy plants that could scramble companionably with a shrub or small tree. A Clematis vine, for example, could intertwine with a shrub to the benefit of both plants.

I think of this as the “collectors dining room” – it’s off the Chocolate Bar at Patch of Heaven. From the china on the shelves to the shell-mosaics in the table and chairs, this room is a feast for the eye.

Patch of Heaven takeaway #4: We don’t all have the means to collect beautiful objects from all over the world and assemble them into one room. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take an artist’s eye to combine things that strike our fancy in visually appealing ways. Whether we collect treasures from grand estate sales, or thrift store finds, we can create lovely, rich, three-dimensional environments from objects that appeal to us.

Here is a fire pit at Patch of Heaven. I liked two things about this area. First, there is plenty of patio space for chairs around this fire pit. And secondly, I love the benches along the edge of the patio.

Patch of Heaven takeaway #5 Be sure to leave plenty of space for chairs around a fire pit. With enough patio area you could also put four benches around the fire, or even lounge chairs. More room is more versatile. Secondly, benches along a perimeter will not only accommodate larger crowds, but they can also be used for the display of container grown plants.

This is just one of the green walls inside the main house at Patch of Heaven. There are also two indoor coy ponds and an indoor swimming pool. It is an environment that brings the outdoors in, and celebrates nature.

Patch of Heaven takeaway #6: You might not live in a region where orchids and bromeliads thrive, but given the right light it is indeed possible to create green walls and indoor gardens in even the most northern regions. Note how the skylights in this house provide the lighting that the plants need. In this house native Florida stone was used for these walls, but in any area the local rock would work. Think of the interior as a possible continuation of the natural world where you live.

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