Gleaming white against the azure summer sky; glowing and glittering softly in fall's golden light; hiding behind spring mist and tumults of pink blossoms; and warmly harboring a miniature New York, arid deserts and sultry rain forests in winter--the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory has become an icon in a land of architectural icons.
Since 1902 New Yorkers have marveled at the elegant steel-and-glass Conservatory with its domed Palm Gallery and 10 attached glasshouse galleries. Inspired by the great glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in England, the Conservatory has undergone many changes in its 108 year history.
During the Victorian era, exotic plants were displayed individually, in pots, arrayed in galleries not to showcase their beauty or how they fit into an ecosystem, but rather to display their botanical relationships. As part of the Conservatory's significant restoration in 1997, the way in which the plants were displayed was radically changed, with the creation of biomes displaying the plants in a setting reminiscent of their natural habitats.
Inside the Conservatory you can now find a lowland tropical rain forest full of bromeliads, cacao trees, real drops of rain, and a walkway through the canopy; the upland rain forest is lush with ferns, orchid, and mosses which thrive in this cool, misty, montane cloud forest; two deserts--one of the Americas and the other of Africa--are full of spiky, surreal agaves and aloes, giant saguaro cactuses, and the odd "living stones" or Lithops.
And now, after a brief renovation, the Conservatory will re-open with a display of palm trees from around the world under the glittering dome of the Palm Gallery. Previously, the Gallery had hosted palm trees from only the Americas. Fifty new species, including the exotic red sealing wax palm from Malaysia and the curious Seychelles stilt palm join the stately royal palm and the world's best-known palm, the coconut.
But it's not just new palm trees you'll find after the Conservatory's renovation. The Conservatory's re-opening is timed to coincide with the beloved annual tradition of The Holiday Train Show.
For more information and to plan your visit, click here.