No matter how beautiful snow covered evergreens of northern Indiana may be, after a month or two of frozen landscape, I’m longing for green growing plants. That’s when a trip to the Botanical Gardens is in order.
The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is always a refuge for me in the cold winter months. An hour or two inside the greenhouses serves as a mini-vacation.
When I last visited, right after Christmas, the Atrium was filled with hundreds of festive poinsettias and Christmas trees decorated the hallways.
The theme throughout, was the Twelve Days of Christmas. There was even a (fake) cow to milk as I became one of the Eight Maids a Milking.
My first stop was the Showcase Garden, which features changing seasonal displays as well as permanent plants such as bamboo, loquat tree, gardenias, hibiscus, and creeping fig.
After that was the Tropical Garden. This is my favorite place. Thirteen types of exquisite palms, breadfruit, coffee, banana and orange trees, cycads, and ferns grow in abundance there. There’s even a chocolate tree.
Stress slips away with the peaceful background sounds of the waterfall. Rushing water tumbles from a rock ledge high above, and feeds into a rushing stream. I climbed steps to the top, for a bird’s eye view of the gardens and returned below to walk under the fall of water. I followed the stream that wound through lush undergrowth until it emptied into a goldfish pond.
The tropical plants are fascinating. Delicate orchids, lilies and various tiny blooms are sheltered by palms and the over-sized leaves of unknown (to me) vines. Possibly the showiest of the flowering plants is the Bird of Paradise.
After marveling over the individual plants, I took time to sit on the park bench, breathing in the aroma of moist earth and growing things.
The next garden in my path was the Desert Garden, hauntingly quiet and intriguing. Saguaro cacti, fishhook barrel cactus, prickly pear, creosote bush, jojoba, and yucca, mesquite and ironwood trees are among the residents in this southwest desert greenhouse. The plants are allowed to grow and ramble just as they would in the desert.
There are several gardens to explore outside in the summer months. Since I visited to escape the cold, I saved those for later.