Central Park and Ski Dubai have something in common, believe it or not. Central Park is an oasis in the middle of chaos and Ski Dubai, a shelter from the oppressive desert heat. The flowers and concrete, snow and heat create an interesting juxtaposition that is worth your time.
Thinking about these destinations got me thinking. Michael and I live in the middle of urban sprawl. From Miami to West Palm Beach, Florida it is condos, concrete, highways, malls and train tracks. The obvious escape is the beach. Looking out over the choppy waters of the Atlantic is peaceful and beautiful. But is the beach all Florida has to offer? Gosh no! And I am out to prove it!
When you stand at the entrance to Mounts Botanical Garden it is painfully obvious to just how “in the middle of everything” this place is. When you face east you are staring at Palm Beach International Airport and a six lane road. When you turn 180 degrees you see a pergola with vines, flowers and shrubs. Just keep walking west!
I visited the gardens on a hot June day. Shade and my trusty reusable water bottle were my friends that day. I wandered around the garden during their annual Tropical Fruit Festival and loved the “vibe” of the day. It was as if the traffic and chaos of the city melted away with the sunshine as you walked through the gates. The peacefulness was only momentarily interrupted by a plane taking off from the neighboring airport. However, for me, the airplanes added to the experience. I smiled every time I heard the engines roaring overhead and thought to myself “I wonder where they are getting to go?” Yea, I have a serious case of wanderlust!
Mounts Botanical Garden boasts of plants from six continents on its 14 acre property. The variety is only matched by its beauty. Informational plaques dot the landscape to help name or describe certain plants. Michael was not with me so you better believe I geeked out and read everyone I came across. There is always something to learn people! My favorite was the rainbow eucalyptus.
The Tropical Fruit Festival really was just the icing on an already good cake. Fruit vendors, crafts vendors and fruit samples were the highlights of the event.
I loved chatting with some of the vendors and getting their backgrounds – many of which are weekend warriors themselves, traveling Friday-Sunday to sell their goods. Mad props to their skills and products! They endured the heat and humidity – and my incessant curiosity – and have really unique products worth sharing.
Orchid Treasures is a two person company out of Orlando, Florida that creates wearable art from real flowers coated in resin. (Fascinating, huh?) Matthew and Devon create each piece by hand and travel to various festivals and shows each weekend. Their products are pieces of art and perfectly unique and stunning!
Linda and Marcus are another dynamic duo that I met at the Tropical Fruit Festival at Mounts Botanical Garden. Even while busily weaving, Marcus talked with me more about their creations. Hand made from fresh coconut palm leaves, their baskets, hats and bottle holders are both functional and beautiful! (Email Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and purchase inquiries.)
John’s Jungle African Market Baskets caught my eye because a.) they are pretty, and we know how women are when they see pretty things, and b.) the foundation (Every Basket Helps) that supplies John with his baskets is a part of the Fair Trade Federation. This means that proceeds go back to the villages in Africa where the baskets are originally made and bought in the first place.
I do not normally showcase such specific vendors or products, but the people I spoke with at the Tropical Fruit Festival were just to cool to pass up! Their products were not sterile, machine created pieces of you know what. Instead, they were labors of love, meticulously crafted and 100% handmade. How often do you see that in the middle of the urban jungle?
Important: Entrance fees to Mounts Botanical Garden and this event were waived as part of a collaboration between Wife with Baggage and Discover the Palm Beaches. All opinions and photos are my own.