A Review of Botanical Gardens: Part 1

In the time we don’t spend gardening or plant shopping, we visit botanical gardens. We basically live and breath plants. Below are some of the gardens we’ve visited and some thoughts about each. This post will be picture heavy and will likely be broken up into a few parts (possibly ongoing if we can visit a few more).

My biggest botanical garden pet peeve is a lack of labeling and every garden has this flaw to some extent (hence why I’m claiming it here). I’m sure it is time consuming and maybe even costly to label everything, but it is difficult to locate and purchase a plant if it is not labeled. Surely there are re-seeders that migrate and plants that are repeated throughout a garden, but somewhere on one of those plants should be a label. What irks me even more is a label like ‘Hosta’ which is incredibly vague given the thousands of varieties. As an unfortunate result, many of the plants listed here do not have labels (which is a combination of the garden’s lack of labels or my lack of logging them at the time). I will include some best guess names where appropriate.

Cleveland Botanical Gardens (CBG)

Japanese garden with azaleas in bloom at CBG in 2011.

Japanese garden with azaleas in bloom at CBG in 2011.

I have been to the CBG a number of times in winter, spring, and summer. The pros: they have an indoor garden with butterflies and birds that can be enjoyed year-round. They have plenty of events including an annual orchid show and sale. They have a nice variety of garden types such as culinary, herb, Japanese, rain, and shade gardens. Finally, they have a nice selection of hosta. The cons: The entrance fee is a bit pricey, but worth it if you are visiting once (use a reciprocal garden membership if you are a garden club member). There could be more variety to plants (probably could be said of every garden). Parking can be a hassle in the area depending on the time. Also, their rose display is limited. As an FYI, they are closed on Mondays.

I'm going to call this an elephant ear. This was taken in 2011 in the tropical area.

I’m going to call this an elephant ear. This was taken in 2011 in the tropical area.

I should mention that there is both an arid environment and a tropical environment at the CBG. I seem to be lacking pictures of the arid environment.

Epiphytic plants in the tropical room at CBG in 2011.

Epiphytic plants in the tropical room at CBG in 2011. These hang from a manufactured tree that you can climb. The view from above allows you to enjoy a variety of bromeliads and other epiphytes.

I have no idea of this orchid. It is some hybrid, we are thinking inter-genera: Odontoglossum, Oncidium, and/or Miltonia.

I have no idea of what this orchid is. It is some hybrid, we are thinking inter-genera: Odontoglossum, Oncidium, and/or Miltonia. Anyways, when you first walk into the tropical room there is a large log. I suggest you look at it closely as there are some beautiful miniature orchids that may be in bloom. The orchid here is large and I believe is part of the temporary display. CBG 2015.

Bromeliads growing on the forest floor at CBG in 2015.

Bromeliads growing on the forest floor at CBG in 2015.

This is a lovely color and texture combination fit for an English cottage garden. Lavender, variegated iris, and pink roses (likely 'The Fairy').

This is a lovely color and texture combination using lavender, variegated iris, and pink roses (likely ‘The Fairy’). I love its English cottage garden feel. CBG 2011.

Another lovely combination, pink Astilbe and pink Hydrangeas. CBG 2011.

Another lovely combination, pink Astilbe and pink Hydrangeas. CBG 2011.

 

Rockefeller Park Greenhouse (RPG)

While you are in Cleveland visiting the CBG, you should always make a stop at RPG. It is just down the street and has the very affordable entry price of free. I never seem to make it in the spring, but I believe they have a bulb display (that could be completely untrue though). The pros: Free admittance and free, convenient parking. Has a classic conservatory style (maybe that is a con to some?). The cons: Small displays and rather limited plant varieties (those that they have are quite well-established though).

Purple and green grasses lining the beds. RPG 2015.

Purple variegated Tradescantia and green variegated spider plants (?) lining the beds. I like this color combination. RPG 2015.

This is one of the beds in the main room. In the bed's foreground are some slipper orchids. RPG 2015.

This is one of the beds in the main room. In the bed’s foreground are some slipper orchids. RPG 2015.

This conservatory usually smells amazing as there are a number of citrus trees and jasmine plants in bloom. There are a number of sections including a tropical, arid, seasonal, and fern room.

This is one of my favorite beds.

This is one of my favorite beds of any conservatory. The sea of green in the center is baby’s breath and it is surrounded by ferns. I would like to sleep on the baby’s breath or at least step out of bed onto it. The photograph here is from 2011, this bed was either being heavily pruned or had dried out on my most recent visit (February 2015) as it was less lush.

 

Franklin Park Conservatory (FPC)

I have only visited this botanical garden once and it was a lovely surprise. We visited in winter so I do not have any sense of its outdoor gardens, but the indoor selection was impressive. The pros: There was a lot of artwork that you could enjoy in addition to the plants. Nice diversity of displays: they have an arid, tropical, and temperate plant display indoors. There was an interactive kid’s room when we went which helped occupy the toddler (who was disappointed that an orchid show is not on TV). The cons: Also a bit pricey, but I thought it was worthwhile (again, use a garden membership). I apologize for the poor pictures, we forgot our fancy camera.

Blown glass artwork by  Dale Chihuly at the FPC in 2014.

Blown glass artwork by Dale Chihuly at the FPC in 2014.

Carnivorous plant art at the FPC in 2014.

Carnivorous plant art at the FPC in 2014. I believe this display was temporary under the theme of dangerous plants.

Cacti display in the arid room at FPC in 2014.

Cacti display in the arid room at FPC in 2014.

Himalayan mountain display. There were some gorgeous trees in this display. FPC 2014.

The Himalayan mountain display was a very unique environment at a conservatory. There were some gorgeous trees in this room. FPC 2014.

I will leave you with these three gardens for now; happy exploring!