The Conservatory at Longwood Gardens is a welcome respite from the dark and dreary days of winter. Outside the landscaped grounds are cold, bleak and brown. Step indoors and we are welcomed with warmth and color.
Beautiful flowers are everywhere. Some dangle in delicate shades of blush…
While others offer a brighter palette.
Past the Main Conservatory and the Exhibition Hall, the Silver Garden and the Banana House, each step deeper into the labyrinth of corridors and rooms reveals ever more exotic plants. Bird of Paradise.
Round the bend and we are met with a shaft of sunlight illuminating some unusual leaves. Ram’s Horn Croton.
Walking into the Fern Passage brings us among some truly weird and wonderful plants. Look up! See the intricate pattern made from the spore-dotted fronds of the Australian Tree fern that towers over your head.
Turn another direction, and we find ourselves face to face with suspended carnivorous pitcher plants. Smaller ones share a planter with tiny Venus Flytraps.
Wait – our favorite plants seem to be missing. Where are the club mosses? This is Longwood Gardens; they simply have to be here.
And they are. In fact, we were looking right at them. A helpful staff botanist is happy to show us what we missed.
Not mosses at all, club mosses are vascular plants. We are familiar with Lycopodium, which resembles a teeny tiny Christmas tree, but on this Christmas day, we are introduced to Huperzia, sometimes known as fir moss.
These particular Huperzia are called Tassel Ferns.
Passing through the Cascade Garden, we find ourselves in the Rose Alley, which speaks to us of both spring gardens and tropical climes. Water droplets glisten on colorful hibiscus.
Outside it is cold and windy, but inside the Conservatory of Longwood Gardens winter dreams blossom into weird and wonderful life.