Pinecrest Gardens is a lush paradise featuring both exotic and native tropical plants, sinuous rock formations, and water features. The Gardens are listed on the National Historic Register and recognized for their significance by the Cultural Landscape Foundation. The 11-acre design includes a tropical native hardwood hammock and Baldcypress slough, dry succulent gardens, palms, orchids, and diverse specimen plantings in a unique historic landscape and urban oasis. The Gardens’ horticultural history and distinctive identity are built upon the site’s interesting geology, subtle changes in elevation, and varied soils.
Remnants of the original Snapper Creek streambed wind through a series of small ponds in the lower gardens. The braided channel is the last bit of the Creek that has not been altered by development. This hydrological heart of the Gardens features the sculpted forms of karst and pinnacle rock formations shaped by rain and flowing water over many thousands of years. The porous limestone, so noticeable in the landscape, was used extensively as part of the Gardens’ building material. The streambed flows as much underground as it does above and includes a network of small caves and fissures. A large solution hole, carved by the surface and subterranean flow, is a notable feature of aquatic habitat that supports colorful crabs, prawns, fish, turtles, and other fauna that have become scarce in urbanized Miami.
The lower gardens include a remnant old-growth Baldcypress slough. Baldcypress, an ancient tree species has largely been eliminated from the coastal areas of Miami-Dade County. Along with the prominent cypress “knees”, the slough contains a diversity of ferns and other native plants that appreciate moisture and humidity. Many tropical plants flourish under the protective canopy of the big trees. These cypresses were once part of the largest Baldcypress forest in South Florida. Unfortunately, several of the Gardens’ trees were toppled in past hurricanes. Their trunks now provide a good growing surface for orchids and other epiphytes.
A prominently exposed limestone ridge signals the transition from the wet slough environment to the drier tropical hardwood hammock. The slight elevational difference results in Southern Live Oak, Strangler Fig, and Gumbo-Limbo forming the dominant components of the tree canopy.
Beyond the gardens that preserve some of the native flora extend a variety of designed areas with a large Banyan tree at their center. A pair of terraced dry gardens that highlight waterwise and site-appropriate succulents flank an open meadow and lake. Colorful shrubs, flowering trees, large bamboos and savannah palms are the featured landscape components in what was once a Pine Rockland habitat.
Several garden areas contain mosaics made from broken or cut brick. The inlaid patterns feature leaves, flowers, flamingos, snails, and other natural shapes. Additionally, a variety of fine sculptural art can be found tucked into the landscape. The Gardens’ history, period architecture, forested areas, aquatic features, theme gardens, dry gardens, and open vistas contribute to Pinecrest Gardens’ unique appearance.