A common knowledge is that New York has something for everyone. If your something is like mine, tropical plants, you will find them in abundance in Enid A. Haupt Conservatory in Bronx, New York Botanical Garden.
Build in 1902, as a result of inspiration by two honeymooners, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Britton, after their visit to London, the conservatory has clear Victorian connections to the Palm House in Royal Botanic Garden at Kew as well as to Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace. Its current name is commemorating Enid Annenberg Haupt, whose generous contribution saved the conservatory from demolition in 1978 and made it possible to restore it close to the original design.
I visited it on a sunny Saturday at the end of March, when almost all of its pavilions, in addition to the conservatory’s regular tropical residents, were housing an amazing annual Orchid Show: Orchidelirium (February 27–April 17, 2016). Personally, I was more interested in the first ones, but the myriads of bright flowers strewn everywhere, cascading from every rise, did create an unforgettable atmosphere and added well saturated backgrounds for photos.
The main entrance to the conservatory is in Palm Dome. You can botanize there in many palm species, which are surrounding a pond in the middle. My point of interest is growing tropical plants indoors, obviously including palms, so it was especially interesting for me to see quite a few juvenile specimens, which you can imagine growing in a larger pot.
From the Palm Dome there are two glass covered halls leading to a corner house each, from where there is another hall to one more corner house on each side. So in total you can stroll among tropical greenery in five larger green houses and six connecting halls. The plant collection is organized in different biomes. From the Palm Dome go through a lowland rain forest to rain forest understory and climb to rain forest canopy. From there you will continue through the aquatic plants hall to upland rain forest. Take an underground tunnel from there and you emerge first in American desert and then into African one. From the African desert house there are one more corner greenhouse connected by two halls back to the Palm Dome. Those are used for temporary exhibitions.
I was probably the only visitor that day in the greenhouse, who wasn’t there mainly for orchids. I do love them, but I feel it can very easily get too much and too many. So I took just some photos of those endless species and cultivars, which were everywhere in the conservatory that day.
I have a similar relation to Bromeliads as to orchids – I love them, but they are so numerous, that I have to refrain myself from starting to collect them. I do, however own a couple of them in our home jungles, as no tropical scenery is complete without them. In this conservatory you can see many species of them throughout the whole greenhouse. No refrains there.
Palms are an embodiment, the essence of tropics. If you want to create, to build your own tropics indoors, the palms ought to be its bone structure. Here in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory you’ll find some interesting species.
Other tropical plants
Plant Hunter is an interactive game NYBG got online for kids, who is interested to learn more about tropical plants. Kind of fun for adults as well.