My friend and fellow plant/collecting enthusiast Uli Havermann (you may remember her from this incredible succulent pot, this stunning blue sea holly, and these beautiful urns) is a member of a large community greenhouse here in Toronto. Last week she treated me to a glimpse inside. Like community gardens and allotments, community greenhouses are not all created equal. Each function in their own way to achieve varying goals. Years back I was a member of a small community greenhouse that functioned more like a collective in which each member had a particular job or role and worked to help care for each other’s plants.
The greenhouse I visited last week is much, much, much larger and functions more like an allotment garden in which members pay an annual fee for a large, multi-tiered wooden bench (I don’t recall the dimensions) on which to house their plants. Taking care of other members’ plants is not expected, and I would imagine, discouraged.
Regardless of the model, a greenhouse like this is an invaluable resource for city dwellers who don’t have the space in their own homes to overwinter beloved houseplants and start seedlings. I can also see its benefit as a green refuge to enjoy on days like today when the garden is buried in snow and the temperature is too cold for life. Within just an hour-long(ish) visit I was practically wobbling down the aisles drunk on the scent and sight of plant life. I left feeling reinvigorated and positively giddy about the approaching garden season.
As promised, a follow-up post of closeup shots taken at the Mount Goliath alpine garden. While I had to exclude hundreds of shots to keep this post within reason, I still managed to go overboard with over 30 images. As a result, I have embedded a slideshow so that those of you with a slow connection are not left trying to load this page for the next week.
I’ve identified as many plants as possible. If you’d like to know the names, click through to their Flickr page.
[Note: For some reason the images are compressed in the slideshow in a way that makes them look very low res. Until I can resolve the issue, I'd suggest taking a look at the original images as they look okay in that version. Sorry about that!]
As an alpine plant fan this was a big deal for me and I even planned the trip (in part) based on when a good number of the alpines would be blooming at that elevation. They did not disappoint.
Some Brief Stats: When we set out that morning, Denver was already a blazing 95°F or so and the altitude 5,280 feet above sea level. As the car climbed Mt. Evans on the way to Mt. Goliath, the temperature dipped below 60°F and the altitude was somewhere around 12,000 feet! We never did make it to the very top of Mt. Evans (14,240 feet), but we did get high enough to touch snow and it was cool enough to require a change into long sleeved shirts and socks.
This is the view at Summit Lake, a stop that is just below the peak. This panoramic is an amalgam of images that I took with my cellphone. I also brought a film panoramic camera… someday I will process that film and post them here. Some. Day. As I’ve said before, I’ve got a film backlog dating to 2008 (and countless trips) so I have no illusions about when they will see the light of day.
I’ve said it at least a dozen times, but of the greenhouses I’ve visited, those at the Montreal Botanical Gardens remain my favourite to date and always a highlight of any trip to Montreal. Oh how I wish we had greenhouses this inspiring here in Toronto! [Speaking of which... the super amazing Drawn & Quarterly bookstore is hosting an event for the book next month so I'll be headed back there soon. Stay tuned.]
The orchid conservatory was in full form during my trip, and possibly the best I have ever seen it. I took a ton of photos. Here are just a few of the orchids that caught my interest that day.