Smelling the Roses
A Botanical Tour of North America
Anyone who’s attended Salute to Vienna knows it’s not just a concert. Okay, it’s true; the waltzes, overtures, arias, and duets of Strauss and his contemporaries are the evening’s main event. But the experience of the New Year’s Concert is enriched by visual elements, including intricate and unique floral arrangements. Local florists in each of our concert cities create elaborate, one-of-a-kind floral arrangements to emulate the design of Vienna’s annual Neujahrskonzert, which uses more than 30,000 individual flowers in its production each year!
We’ve got flowers on the mind this week, so we’ve put together a list of some botanical gardens, parks, and greenhouses that preserve plant-life and provide respite from the doldrums of life in lockdown. If you’re looking to spruce up the last few days of summer with some flora and fauna, plan a family trip to your nearest botanical garden! Here are some of our favourites from across the continent:
Have you ever seen a cannonball tree? If you haven’t visited the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, it’s unlikely you’ve encountered this fragrant, fruit-bearing deciduous tree. Planted in 1938, the same year the botanic garden was open to the public, this cannonball tree is one of the only of its kind on the entire continent.
Located just south of Miami, the main purpose of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is the preservation of biodiversity. This 83-acre garden is home to collections of extremely rare tropical plants, including more than 740 flowering trees from all over the world. In addition to taking in the greenery, guests can interact with exotic species of butterflies in the garden’s 25,000 square foot butterfly house and conservatory, “Wings of the Tropics.” The garden is also home to the American Orchid Society.
Queen Elizabeth Park is the highest point within the city of Vancouver. Located just a few blocks from the King Edward SkyTrain station, the park is a favourite weekend getaway spot for Vancouverites, who can shop for fresh produce at the weekly Riley Park Farmers Market, play 18 holes at the small pitch and putt golf course, or enjoy a fabulous meal at the Seasons in the Park restaurant overlooking the city.
Park goers can experience much more than a magnificent view of the North Shore mountains. Queen Elizabeth Park is home to the Bloedel Conservatory, an indoor tropical garden which houses more than 500 exotic plants and 120 free-flying birds. After closing its doors as a safety precaution, the conservatory has recently reopened to the public with a host of new guidelines to allow the local community to safely enjoy the plan and wildlife inside.
When you think of downtown Toronto, you probably think of tall skyscrapers, bright lights and billboards, and the hustle bustle of rush hour traffic. But Toronto is home to pockets of green space, and natural wonders that can often feel as though they’re hidden right in plain sight.
Just a short ways away from our home base, Allan Gardens is one of Toronto’s hidden gems. Free to visit, and open every day of the year, the five greenhouses that cover the park’s 16,000 square feet are filled with rare plants from all over the world.
Each holiday season, while we’re excitedly anticipating the fast-approaching New Year’s Concert, Allan Gardens hosts a seasonal Victorian Christmas Show. The conservatory is given a holiday makeover, filled with thousands of flowering plants, including more than 40 varieties of Poinsettias, creating the perfect backdrop for carollers, horse and wagon rides, and candlelit holiday celebrations in the snow.
But winter is still a long ways away. In the meantime, make sure to enjoy the last weeks of summer weather, and brighten your days with a trip to botanical gardens in your own hometown!