One of the ways to break the monotony and depression of the winter is to visit an indoor plant conservatory in the in middle of winter. Unfortunately, since the Mendel Conservatory was closed in Saskatoon in 2017 in Saskatoon, the central and northern part of the province do not have an public indoor winter oasis. However, the southern part of the province is fortunate to have the Regina Floral Conservatory, located at 1450B Fourth Avenue in Regina, Saskatchewan. It is open to the public from September to June and admission is free. Regina’s Floral Conservatory has a range of tropical and dryland plants along with seasonal displays of flowers.
If you are willing to visit one of our neighboring provinces or even venture further east or west in Canada, there are other beautiful indoor plant spaces available. In Alberta, the city of Edmonton hosts the Muttart Conservatory, 9626-96a St. NW, Edmonton, Alberta; an accredited museum which grows one of Canada’s largest botanical collections. The conservatory is made up of 4 glass pyramids. Three of the biomes are the Conservatory’s year-round displays and the fourth pyramid houses feature displays which change up to 8 times per year.
In Calgary, check out the Calgary Zoo (210 St. George’s Drive East, Calgary, Alberta), which hosts the ENMAX Conservatory and Nutrien Garden of Life. This conservatory and butterfly garden consists of a jungle-like atmosphere complete with banana trees, pineapples and kiwi. The goal of the Garden of Life is to highlight the symbiotic nature of plants with humans. Adult admission is $29.95, which includes access to the zoo.
Fifteen minutes southwest of Edmonton, Alberta lies the University of Alberta’s Botanic Gardens (formerly known as the Devonian Gardens), 51227 Hwy 60, Parkland County, Alberta. The U of A’s botanic gardens are a 240 acre property with 22,000 plant species on display. For the winter, the botanic garden hosts events such as Luminaria and a Northern Light Dining experience. U of A’s botanic garden also hosts three indoor showhouses: a Tropical plant and butterfly showhouse, an arid showhouse and a temperate showhouse. More information can be found https://www.ualberta.ca/botanic-garden/gardens/indoor-showhouses.html.
Winnipeg, Manitoba is very excited to be opening up their brand new indoor botanic garden, The Leaf, for the 2022 holiday season. Located in Assiniboine Park, The Leaf consists of four distinct biomes: the Hartley and Heather Richardson Tropical Biome, the Mediterranean Biome, the Babs Asper Display House and the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden. Surrounding the biomes are 30 acres of gardens and greenspace which comprise six different outdoor gardens that should be explored during the growing season. The adult rate of admission is $15.50/day.
If you have the opportunity to travel out to the Canadian west coast this winter, you have the option of both indoor and outdoor botanical gardens to visit. When visitors think of gardens in British Columbia, Butchart Gardens is familiar. Located on Vancouver Island, northwest of downtown Victoria, in the bedroom community of Brentwood Bay, Butchart Gardens is a spectacular 22 hectare garden containing thousands of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and annuals. Although it is winter on the coast, the walking paths are usually free of snow, temperatures are above 0˚C and there are still many beautiful plants to see at this time of the year.
If your travels end at Vancouver and you can’t make it to ‘the island’, have no fear, gardens in the lower mainland will not disappoint. Another 22 hectare public garden can be found at 5251 Oak Street, just south of Vancouver’s downtown core. VanDusen Botanical Garden opened in 1975 with outdoor plants from all over the world. The Christmas light display in the garden is fantastic and by February, there are many perennials popping up throughout the garden.
Within a 10-15 minute drive east of the VanDusen Botanical Garden, the Bloedel Conservatory (4600 Cambie Street) can be found at the highest point in Vancouver in Queen Elizabeth Park. Created in 1969; it is an indoor tropical garden that contains more than 120 free-flying exotic birds and 500 exotic plants and flowers. Plant areas include; Tropical Rainforest habitat, Sub-tropical habitat ecosystem and a Desert zone.
Are you planning to visit Ontario this winter? The butterfly conservatory near Niagara Falls is a must see. Over 2000 butterflies fry freely among the lush tropical plants and waterfalls. You can experience the life cycle of the butterfly up close and personal through the emergence window in the conservatory.
For those of us that won’t be travelling much this winter, there is always the option of armchair travel. The Canadian Garden Council has just released a new book entitled, ‘Gardens Canada’. This coffee table book “highlights some of Canada’s most popular and admired gardens, gardening trends, and innovations across the country.” (https://gardenontario.org/year-of-the-garden-2022/) Look for a copy at your local bookstore.
For your own peace of mind and solitude, try to take in some gardens this winter, whether it be in person, on paper, or virtually. Happy Gardening!
This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; firstname.lastname@example.org ). Check our website (www.saskperennial.ca) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/saskperennial) for a list of upcoming gardening events