Garden Photo of the Day

GPOD on the Road: Allan Gardens Conservatory

A beautiful garden under glass

raised garden bed full of diverse cacti

This summer, friend of the GPOD Cherry Ong had a chance to visit the Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto. These are some shots from the tropical and arid houses.

inside a greenhouse with lots of bromeliad and other tropical foliage plantsThis conservatory isn’t just a collection of exotic plants, but they are arranged together as a beautiful garden. Here, members of the bromeliad family show off their colorful, sculptural foliage and flowers.

close up of red and green bromeliad plantsThis bromeliad’s foliage is as colorful as any flower. Many bromeliads live in the wild on the branches of trees in tropical forests, and many live happily as houseplants.

large spanish moss plants hanging from the ceiling of the greenhouseThat tumbling cloud of gray foliage is Spanish moss, which, despite the common name, is neither Spanish nor moss but is actually a bromeliad, Tillandsia usneoides, that is native to southeastern North America. The gray fuzz on the narrow leaves is actually how they absorb water from the rain (or, in a conservatory, from the spray of a hose).

large orchid with lots of small yellow flowersA pretty incredible spray of orchid flowers! If there are any orchid experts who read the GPOD and know what species this is, please let us know.

close up of large burgundy and white flowerThe huge and bizarre flowers of Aristolochia gigantea (Zones 10–12) are pollinated by flies, which are fooled by the color and scent into thinking the flowers are dead animals and so suitable for laying their eggs on.

large grey hibiscus flowerMost people imagine bright red when they think of tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosasinensis, Zones 8–12), but plant breeders have made an incredible color range of this shrub, including flowers like this that are almost gray.

concrete path winding through the densely planted greenhouseA path winds through the lush gardens of the tropical house.

greenhouse full of cacti and succulentsIn the arid greenhouse the look is very different. In the place of the large, lush leaves are thick stems and leaves to store water, and many plants with a silvery waxy hue to help reflect the extra-intense sunlight. And, of course, many plants bear spines to discourage thirsty animals from eating them.

raised garden bed full of diverse cactiIt is amazing what a diversity of beautiful plants have adapted to thrive in extremely dry conditions. Wherever you garden, it seems, there are a host of wonderful plants that will love to grow in your climate.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

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  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/16/2022


    1. perenniallycrazy 09/16/2022

      Hope you get to visit someday.

  2. angelaobrienruff 09/16/2022

    I believe the orchid in the photo is a spider orchid “brassica caudata” or similar.

    1. perenniallycrazy 09/16/2022

      Thanks for ID. Curious to know what it was too.

  3. sheila_schultz 09/16/2022

    Great captures, Cherry! I'm always mesmerized by Spanish moss, living naturally and growing gloriously. In the cactus garden, the plant at the very end reminded me of the Peperomia I have... I did a close up of the tag but couldn't get enough details. The large, round green succulent leaves give a special softness and do remind me of my Peperomia purchased without a complete tag. I never thought about it as a succulent? Curious!

    1. perenniallycrazy 09/16/2022

      Thanks Sheila. Had to look at my photos to see if I can enlarge it enough to read the plant tag... Success! It's called Cissus rotundifolia or Peruvian Grape Ivy. Think the Friends of Allan Gardens maybe able to provide more information about this succulent like beauty!

      1. sheila_schultz 09/17/2022

        Thanks Cherry... I'll do a bit more research!

  4. [email protected] 09/16/2022

    Thanks again for sharing, Cherry. I know you have a garden (have seen pictures on GPOD), but I swear I don't see how you keep up, because it seems you travel the length and breadth of your country, visiting wonderful gardens! Have been thinking how I need to down-size and simplify, yet here I am today with 7 new plants from a local Plant sale!

  5. User avater
    simplesue 09/17/2022

    Oh I love Spanish Moss and found that info about it interesting to learn!

  6. btucker9675 09/17/2022

    Beautiful place! I always enjoy Cherry's posts so much, visiting these wonderful places through her eyes and photos. I grew up in Florida surrounded by Spanish "moss" and, although it's lovely draped in live oaks, it's often home to lots of little critters that will have you itching like crazy! : )

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