Yesterday, Carol and I took a "vacation day" and spent it with Mary, who has been here for a few days of her Spring break. We toured South Dade (sometimes referred to as "Redland" or "the Redlands"), starting with our first visit to RF Orchids, then to lunch at the "Tea Room" at Cauley Scquare, on to the Plant Creations nursery, and finally to that famous, glorified fruit stand known as Robert is Here, probably the only fruit stand in Florida with its own micro-zoo out back.
RF Orchids is an orchid nursery that Carol and I learned about at the Miami International Orchid Show that we attended a few weeks ago. It teems with gorgeous orchids, and the nursery rooms are replete with growing, blooming plants, rooms that are open and welcoming to the visitor. (We knew the owners were happy to have us, when one of the staff brought us out glasses of home-made lemonade within five minutes of our arrival.)
Cauley Square is an eccentric collection of shops and small restaurants grouped just off US 1 near Goulds. Mary Ann Ballard, a member of a pioneer S. Dade family, developed this unusal place, round an ancient (for Florida) building just off the track bed for Flagler's railroad that once took people to Key West. (Mary Ann is now deceased, but I had the privilege of knowing her many years ago.) Just to demonstrate that I have no male identity problems, I am not embarrassed to report that not only did I have lunch with Carol and Mary in the "Tea Room" at Cauley Square, I had spinach quiche, which was simply fabulous. (More on Cauley Square, Mary Ann, and the Team Room here.)
After lunch we visited a nursery that has an outstanding web site, Plant Creations. It has an impressive inventory of plants and trees, but it is plainly for the landscape professional. Amateurs like us would best stay on the website and, when we make our in-person visits, have our list of acquisition needs already in hand.
We ended our South Dade tour with a visit to Robert is Here, which enjoys legendary status among people who live in Miami-Dade and is a required stop anytime we are otherwise within 15 miles of the place. We had the obligatory strawberry-key lime milk shake (just one of the many flavors available), sampled some Guayava fruit that Robert himself cut up and offered us (one of the photos shows Robert serving Mary), bought a Mamey for Mary to take back to a friend at Bryn Mawr, and just had a great time looking around at the fruit and other offerings, and, especially interesting for me, at the other visitors, not only tourists from up North but ones from Europe as well, particularly the Germans. (The Germans are the ones who look like us, only they are bigger).
Two of the places we visited, RF Orchids and Cauley Square, are part of a self-guided tour called the "Redland Tropical Trail," which has its own website.