Conservatory and Floral Shows
Conservatory and Floral Shows
Upon entrance to the Conservatory, one is almost instantly transported to another place; somewhere that is greener, and definitely warmer. No matter what time of year you visit, the conservatory is guaranteed to be at least a few degrees warmer than outside. All that extra warmth and humidity creates a jungle-esque environment where plants from all over the world flourish. Descending the ramp into this verdant oasis, one is instantly drawn to look left toward the sounds of water falling. Surrounding our pond and ascending the wall is our Swiss Cheese Plant Monstera deliciosa. This vigorous climber took off from a 12” pot that was placed on the pond wall about five years ago. The fruit of this plant is edible and delicious- hence the name, but must be eaten carefully, in segments as it ripens, due to toxins in the fruit covering. One can hardly miss the enormous leaves of the Tree Philodendron Philodendron bipinnatifidum occupying the left side bed of the conservatory. These beautiful leaves, interesting stem, and, long, searching aerial roots make this a real attention getter.
Opposite the pond, on the other side of the ramp, lies the cacti and succulent collection. Packed full of intriguing specimens and adorable varieties, this spot will be sure to “prick” your interest. Across the room and to your right is one of the largest and oldest plants in the conservatory. Also boasting incredible aerial roots, the Variegated Rubber Tree Ficus elastica 'Variegata' was part of the original planting to be displayed when the conservatory opened in 1951.
Two peninsulas jut out from either side of the house and usually showcase our feature plants during our multiple floral displays. Currently residing permanently in the left peninsula is one of our most prized specimens, the Birdsnest Anthurium Anthurium imperiale. It is sure to receive admiration for its immense leaves and prominent blooms.
The island bed in the center of the conservatory holds some of our taller plants in the collection including the White Bird of Paradise Strelitzia nicolai, Bananas, and the awesome Fishtail Palm Caryota mitis with its bunches of drooping fingerlike flowers that drop immense amounts of pollen. Following the path to the left you will surely pause at the magnificent blooms hovering delicately around the orchid wall. Orchids are epiphytes, meaning they live on something, such as another plant or stump, but derive their nutrients from the air and water, not the host plant. Orchids grown in pots are usually grown in bark chips.
Flanking the rear of the conservatory, one guarding each staircase stand the ancient Sago Palms Cycas revoluta. Sago Palms are literally prehistoric plants, and ours have been here since the beginning of our time at the garden. They join the rubber tree and autograph tree as some of the oldest plants in the place.
Ascending the left rear staircase is delightful when the Powderpuff Plant Calliandra haematocephala is blooming. Bright red urchin- like blooms dangle above your head and dance around the Ponytail Palm Beaucarnea recurvata in the corner. Not a true palm, a single stalk arising from an immense above ground bulb, this incredibly easy to grow plant is always a favorite.
Coming back toward the front on the opposite side path, passing under the fragrant Angelwing Jasmine vine Jasminum nitidum, the elegance of the Aralia Polyscias sp. in the island bed, with its unique form and deeply incised leaves, draws you forward. The silhouette of the rubber tree stands before you with its reaching canopy as you return again to the center of the room Before you exit, pause for a moment here in this place, breathe deeply, and feel connected with the environment that gives rise to so many wonderful, delicate, interesting, and fragile species. Leave feeling refreshed and energized from your visit to this tropical oasis in the Midwest.