Today we will be going on a tour of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Our tour today will take us to just some of the indoor greenhouses that you can see on your visit to Phipps. It will also include a few of the historical facts about the buildings you will see.
Our tour today will start at the South Conservatory. It was finished in 1897 and was the first addition of many to the Phipps Conservatory. It has brick pathways around the edge of the greenhouse, with a large garden bed in the centre. It is used as a showcase room for different flower shows throughout the year. As well, it is the home of the garden Railroad during the fall and winter months.
Originally, the South Conservatory was a much larger room. In the late 1930’s, glass and brick walls were added to divide the room into three rooms. The Tropical Fruit and Spice Room found to the right is one of the rooms that was created by this division.
Here you will find fruit, spice and nut trees, hence the name of the greenhouse. Perhaps the most dazzling aspect of the greenhouse can be found directly in the middle of the room. Here you can see a large purple and celadon glass artwork created by Dale Chihuly.
The next greenhouse that we will visit is the Gallery, which is the other room that was created when the South Conservatory was divided into three. As you can see, the Gallery is a plainer room, but it has ample room for educational displays. It is also used to highlight certain plants during the seasonal flower shows held at the Phipps Conservatory.
The next stop on our tour is the Desert Room. As soon as we enter this greenhouse, you can see how the pathway splits in two. Stay to the right and follow the path all the way around. As you do so, you will see a variety of cacti and succulents, including a very large American Century plant. Before we exit, make sure to look up. Hanging down from the ceiling is yet another glass sculpture, in the shape of a very large yellow star, created by Dale Chihuly.
The Desert Room then leads to the Sunken Garden. The main feature of this room is the sunken garden bed found in the middle of the greenhouse. The bed also features a small stream and three large brick water fountains. Along the edges, you will find more flowers and hanging baskets. The plants and flowers in this greenhouse are changed for each new exhibit and flower show.
We will now continue on to the Broderie Room. Another name for the greenhouse is the “Parterre de Broderie”, French for “embroidery of earth”. As you can see as we walk into the room, we are on a raised brick patio. If you look to our left, you will see a lovely wishing well. Below us are the garden beds, arranged in what looks like a tear drop pattern. At the back of the room, if you look closely, you will see three tall statues. The room is absolutely gorgeous, so it is no surprise to find out that it is often rented out for small weddings.
Leaving the Broderie Room, we now pass through the Victoria Room. The room is square with a large pool in the centre and has a domed, glass ceiling. You can see how the path follows the perimeter of the room and has plants between it and the pool. Within the pool is a large fountain. The fountain was rebuilt in 1993 and now features an interactive panel. Go ahead; push the different buttons on the panel to control the jets and lights on the fountain.
Our tour comes to an end in the East Room. Gather round on the patio, or if you like, you can sit down on the bench. Even though we can’t go that far into the room, you can still appreciate the waterfall at the back of the greenhouse, with the stream of water flowing towards us.
Expert – Joanne Jones