Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Highlight from a Weekend Outing: The Palm House at Allan Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Two of my friends and I went to Toronto for the weekend and one of the sights that we visited - at my insistence - was the conservatory in the downtown park known as Allan Gardens. Built in 1910, it is called the Palm House and contains a number of different plant collections and displays. One enters through the central dome of the palm house proper and immediately finds oneself under a canopy of bananas (Musa x paradisiaca) and various species of palm. From here, a long greenhouse filled with tropical flowers and foliage plants branches off to the right, while a temperate house filled with Mediterranean species and seasonal floral displays lies to the left.

Outside view of the central dome of the Palm House

Sign explaining the history of the Toronto Horticultural Society and the park

Inside view towards the ceiling of the dome

We turned right first and traversed the warm house planted with a variety of tropical plants, including many common houseplants as well as some more unusual species. There were several stunning varieties of hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), a nice specimen of flaming glory bower (Clerodendron speciosissimum), taro plants (Colocasia esculenta), Senna alata, bougainvilleas (Bougainvillea sp.), and much more. Philodendron hederaceum trailed from large hanging baskets in various spots and some of the border were dotted with the delicate blossoms of Gladiolus callianthus.

View along one of the paths in the tropical house to the right of the central dome

Flowers of flaming glory bower (Clerodendron speciosissimum)

A pink double hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

A particularly large-flowered single variety of hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

A double yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

A deep velvety red hibiscus cultivar (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Senna alata

 Flowers of shoals spider lily (Hymenocallis coronaria)

Another view along the central path; I really like how the various foliage plants, like Maranta leuconeura, look as groundcovers

At the end of this tropical house lies the arid house, filled with a nice collection of cacti, agaves, and other succulents arranged in a pretty manner.

 One of the borders in the arid house

 A large-flowered cultivar of crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii)

 A view along the central path of the arid house

From the arid house we had to go back through the tropical house and through the central palm house dome to continue our tour in the temperate house. Here,by far my favorite element was the seasonal display of old-fashioned giant chrysanthemums.

 View along one of the paths in the temperate house

 One of the chrysanthemum displays

 An orange chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.)

 The water feature in the temperate house

 Some more chrysanthemums

At the end of the temperate house we entered another warm greenhouse dedicated to tropical plants. Among the highlights of this tropical house were a collection of orchids, several beautiful Abutilon cultivars, a white mandevilla vine (Mandevilla boliviensis), a skyflower (Duranta erecta) with brilliant blue flowers edged in white, Ipomoea indica, and a vast array of tropical foliage plants.

 View along one of the three paths in the second tropical house

 A light pink Abutilon cultivar (Abutilon x hybridum)

 A deep red cultivar of Abutilon x hybridum

 Flowers of Mandevilla boliviensis

 A Cattleya hybrid

 A bright blue, white-edged variety of Duranta erecta with  Codiaeum variegatum 

 Ipomoea indica, a large tropical morning glory

 Flowers of Allamanda cathartica

 View along one of the side paths

On the whole, one of the things that most impressed me about the Allan Park Palm House is just how meticulously planted and tended all the displays were - and that too in a greenhouse open to the public free of any charge! Other than that it might not be a terribly unusual place as far as conservatories go but it is definitely a lovely spot to escape from the chilly fall weather for a bit and soak in some tropical color and warmth.

1 comment:

  1. How have I never been here! Totally going this winter though. Nice shots.


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