Our oldest son and daughter-in-law treated us to lunch and a tour through the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, Alberta … pronounced “Mutt” “tart” with the emphasis on the “tart”.
The conservatory consists of four pyramids, with each pyramid housing a different region of plant life. The temperate, tropical, and arid pyramids remain the same year round. The fourth pyramid holds the featured display, which changes eight times a year.
We were fortunate to see spring flowers in the featured display, and I say fortunate, because the weather has been so crappy at home and I’m not sure we will ever see them other than in a controlled environment!
This pyramid was home to the Canada 150 tulip, also known as the Maple Leaf tulip. The Canada 150 tulip is the official tulip of the 150th anniversary of Canada, which occurs this year.
Tulips were first planted in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, in 1945 when the Netherlands sent 100,000 tulips as a postwar gift of gratitude to thank Canadian soldiers for the role they played in the liberation of the Netherlands.
Our next pyramid was the temperate region. Temperatures in the temperate regions are relatively moderate, rather than extremely hot or cold, and the changes between summer and winter are usually moderate. We noticed right away that this pyramid was cooler than the last.
We were very surprised to see many different orchids in this pyramid, and we all commented that we thought orchids were tropical plants. I guess others have made this comment since there was a sign that addressed this issue 🙂 Most people assume orchids come from tropical regions, but many orchids flourish in colder climates such as ours. Temperate orchids may thrive in in regions where nighttime temperatures may drop to 10C (55F) or lower but don’t freeze.
I was admiring this green and lush ground cover when I saw the face … pretty cool!
Of course we had to visit the arid region where we saw agave and many of the cacti we are familiar with from our winters south. However there were also plants from other areas of the world such as this Easter Rose Cactus from South America.
Our last stop was the tropical region where I fell in love with the Medinilla magnifica which is native to the Philippines.
In the Philippines, Medinilla magnifica grows in the forks of large trees but does not withdraw its food from the trees, so it will not kill the tree. King Boudewijn of Belgium was a fan of the Medinilla and grew them in the royal conservatories. The plant is shown on the bank note of the 10,000 Belgian francs. I would love to be able to grow these in baskets at home!
One of the main attractions at the conservatory right now is the Corpse Flower, know as Putrella, which is due to bloom within the next seven to ten days.
The Corpse Flower, which is the world’s largest flower, only blooms every two to three years so this is special treat. But it is also one of the smelliest flowering plants, spreading its rotten-meat or warm-diaper stink up to 30 metres to attract flies and beetles that help to spread its pollen … so maybe it was a good thing it hadn’t actually bloomed when we were there!
When it blooms, the enormous flower only lasts between two and four days. The smell is strongest when the flower first blooms, usually between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., dissipating throughout the day. Since we didn’t see Putrella in bloom I had to get a picture of the last bloom, in 2015, from the Internet.
There were many other pretty flowers in this pyramid.
As we left the conservatory the sun had come out and we were treated to a pretty view of downtown Edmonton.
It was a good thing we enjoyed the sunny skies yesterday because more snow is on the way!
Until next time …