Flowering beauties

Orchid planting adds color and splendor to the Arboretum on the Coral Gables Campus
Earth Day
Dr. Mauro Galetti with Judy Mangasarian, president of the Coral Gables Garden Club.

In celebration of Earth Day, dozens of diverse orchids were planted to the already spectacular collection of plants and trees in the John C. Gifford Arboretum by University of Miami students, professors, alumni, and environment enthusiasts and activists.

Playing an important role in the daily lives of many students and staff at the Coral Gables Campus, especially throughout the last year when most have felt the dread of long hours spent indoors, the Arboretum provides a space where members of the community can safely social distance and enjoy the outdoors surrounded by trees—and now—flowering orchids. 

The event was spearheaded by Mauro Galetti, a tropical biologist and conservationist in the Department of Biology, and director of the Arboretum. Galetti, who was inspired to host the event to commemorate Earth Day, said planting the orchids is a way to beautify the Arboretum and make it welcoming to the University community.

“It is true that the Arboretum is primarily a space to showcase trees, but we don’t have more space to plant any more trees,” said Galetti. “Everybody loves orchids, of course. So we decided to have this special corner of the Arboretum especially for these beautiful, big colorful flowers that visitors can plant and appreciate. Now we have an orchid corner in the Arboretum dedicated to the conservation of rare orchids from Florida and the Caribbean."  

The participants who took part in the event each had the opportunity to plant an orchid on one of the palm trees at the Arboretum. Dr. Jason Downing, an orchid biologist at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and his team instructed and guided the planting process. He provided the participants with information on the proper way to plant the orchids, the ideal placement and technique of planting, as well as other general information on orchid preservation.

Among the participants was Judy Mangasarian, president of the Coral Gables Garden Club. “The Arboretum is a magnificent space, and I think the orchids were the perfect addition to it. You can already see the change that they make. They make the experience of the Arboretum even more special,” she said.  

Daria Feinstein, an activist and wild parrot conservationist, was also in attendance. She congratulated everyone for their efforts in bringing attention to the environment, as well as highlighting and expanding the diversity of the fauna and flora that make up the Coral Gables Campus and its exceptional wildlife presence. The Ambassador and Consul General of Brazil in Miami, João Mendes Pereira, was also present at the ceremony.

As a student at the University, alumnus Matias Alem, who is also the founder of BRG Real Estate Company, said he was never aware of the Arboretum, but shared that the Arboretum “can serve as ground zero for awareness to environmental causes and be a place of engagement for UM students and the community.”

The orchid planted event was supported by the Arboretum Orchid Project Initiative and donated by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Foote Bosey Family.