The impressive botanical gardens around the world (P.79) - Allan Gardens Conservatory: A peaceful habitat of tropical vegetation in Canada


( The Victorian-era greenhouse is stuffed with tropical plants, and open 365 days a year.

Even on Toronto’s most bitterly blustery days, it’s balmy inside the Allan Gardens Conservatory. Its greenhouses are home to orchids, bromeliads, cacti, succulents, and—beneath a soaring glass dome—banana trees and palms.

The horticultural center first sprouted in 1858, with a five-acre plot of land donated to the Toronto Horticultural Society by the politician George William Allan.

A new crop took root when the Palm House dome opened in 1910. Over the years, branching greenhouses have been tacked on to its sides, so the whole structure now spans 16,000 square feet.

Visitors who arrive in December or early January might encounter the Conservatory’s holiday flower show. For the past 40 years, this annual festival has nodded to the Victorian era. The gardens’ regular cast of greenery is joined by a rotating roster of special players, such as topiary sleighs, reindeer, and parlor scenes, featuring a hearth, a penguin playing a mossy piano, and a flouncy dress made with boughs of fir. When the holiday show closes up, these give way to other seasonal shows, including one to herald spring with hundreds of hydrangeas and Easter lilies.

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