In its natural state, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a netherworld of Tarzan-strength vines and Crayola blooms. This winter, the 83-acre park is downright Avatar-like, thanks to a spectacular reprise of the Dale Chihuly exhibit that made its debut in 2005.
For those who think they saw it all the first time around, there’s more. More green glass spikes in the cactus patch, more red swirls in the rainforest, more globes in the pond, more atomic-like bursts standing sentinel on majestic overlooks. In total, the 24 installations include thousands of pieces that filled eight giant pallets. (In 2005, when Fairchild’s art program was in its infancy, only five pallets were needed.)
“We wanted the biggest and most spectacular exhibition [Chihuly] has ever done, and he has accommodated,” said Bruce Greer, president of the garden’s board of trustees. Fairchild’s art program brings in visitors who might not be cognizant of, or motivated by, Fairchild’s conservation efforts, he said. Chihuly’s broad appeal “cuts across every economic line and causes novices and experts alike to marvel at what he has done.”
Many works are for sale, with a portion of proceeds going to the garden.
New this year: works too small or fragile to withstand the elements are on display in the Adam R. Rose and Peter R. McQuillan Art Center, which opened this fall.
The exhibit is on display through May 31 and is included with regular garden admission. Evening visits were so popular during the previous show that this season, the garden will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. each Thursday and Sunday throughout the exhibit, excluding festival weekends.