Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deck the Halls

On Friday evening, my husband and I experienced poinsettia delight at the "Stroll through the Conservatory" event at the Belle Isle Conservatory.

Put on by the Belle Isle Botanical Society (BIBS) and the Floriculture Unit of the city of Detroit Recreation Department, this was the 19th year of the annual holiday stroll.

The 100+-year-old conservatory was decorated and specially lit for the evening, and a local choir was on hand singing Christmas carols.

With five climate-controlled greenhouses and a stunning building created by architect-Albert Kahn, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is a beautiful sight anytime of year, but especially around the holidays.

Divided into five distinct sections, the conservatory covers over an acre and features an 85-foot dome with two wings to the north and south, and a show house on the east.

Large palms and other tropical trees share over 100,000 cubic feet in the dome, while tropical plants such as bananas, oranges, coffee and sugar cane occupy the south wing. The north wing hosts several varieties of cacti and succulents, and the showhouse is home to a continuous display of blooming plants during the six major flower seasons of the year.

Home to one of the largest municipal collections of orchids in the nation, the conservatory is open every day of the year from 10:00to 5:00. Admission is free.

BIBS is a non-profit organization founded in 1988 to raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of the conservatory and its surrounding gardens and to provide educational programs for the public. Last year, BIBS funded the replacement of over 81 panes of glass in the conservatory and greenhouses, repaired slipped windows, patched 42 minor breaks in windows, installed vent arms and repaired broken vent wheels in the Show House. For more information on BIBS, click here.

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