This weekend: Orchids make their spring debut in Coral Gables

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Courtesy Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Exotic and unique orchids will be on display this weekend at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's International Orchid Festival in Coral Gables, about 8 miles outside of Miami.

Starting Friday, 10,000 orchid plants from more than 50 vendors will be displayed on the garden's grounds. You'll have plenty to choose from: Orchids represent a large segment of the flower kingdom, with more than 22,000 species, and thousands of hybrids.

Kids are welcome; there's an area for crafts, cupcake decorating, and for learning about the orchid that produces vanilla. Take a walking tour to orient yourself about the garden, or attend the daily introductory lecture.

There's lots more to see on the 83-acre site, open since 1938. There's also a rotating sculpture garden that currently features huge works by Mark di Suvero and Dale Chihuly. Permanent exhibits include the cool-sounding spiny forest of Madagascar, an outdoor butterfly garden, and a tropical fruit pavilion (the garden is named after Dr. David Fairchild, a fruit pioneer who was one of the first to bring mangoes and avocados to Florida in the late 19th century.)

Friday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Admission to both the festival and gardens is $20 for adults. 10901 Old Cutler Road. 305/667-1651.

Not near Miami? There are orchid shows going on at the New York Botanical Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, at the Atlanta Orchid Society, and in Cincinnati. Find out more at the American Orchid Society.

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