Vizcaya’s gardens and grounds, including both designed and native landscapes, are central to the character and experience of the estate. And so the maintenance and preservation of our natural areas is a high priority.
In our efforts to restore the gardens to their historic magnificence, we commissioned the firm of Heritage Landscapes to produce a Cultural Landscape Report, or “CLR.” The CLR provides in-depth research and chronological information on the garden’s history from before Deering’s creation of Vizcaya to the current time. Vizcaya’s horticultural staff uses the CLR as a guiding document when making maintenance and restoration decisions.
Gardens with long and varied histories, such as Vizcaya’s, invariably evolve over time. Original plantings often don’t survive and new plantings are introduced; and the purposes of the gardens and the people who oversee them similarly change with the years. Like many grand historic gardens, Vizcaya’s landscape faltered and fell into disrepair due to inadequate maintenance. Vizcaya’s formal gardens also suffered multiple blows from hurricanes over the decades and, by the beginning of the twenty-first century, it was apparent that they needed enhanced care and guidance.
The CLR has allowed Vizcaya to begin a historically accurate and sensitive restoration of the gardens to their past splendor, while taking into consideration the needs of our visitors and the capacities of our small staff.
Restoration to date has included the cyclical pruning of the live oaks and Australian pines in the formal gardens. Such pruning contributes both to the health of these plants and to the historical accuracy of their appearance. In various locations we have also re-created the original configuration of grass and other plantings, and acquired replicas of historic pots that were long ago destroyed. And, in natural areas filled with native plants, we have assertively removed the exotic specimens that threaten our sensitive ecosystem.
Our most ambitious restoration to date has been in the David A. Klein Orchidarium. We are currently working to restore natural areas at the north and south edges of the property.
Our long-term plans require not only the maintenance and replacement of plants, but also overhaul of the century-old pumps and pipes that operate our fountains and the design and construction of new lighting, irrigation and drainage systems.
Vizcaya’s Cultural Landscape Report was generously supported by a donation from Adam R. Rose and Peter R. McQuillan, with additional support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation