Garden Photo of the Day

The Arid Greenhouse at the Centennial Park Conservatory

A trip to a desert under glass

smaller potted plants next to a large variegated agave

Cherry Ong is taking us back to the conservatory at Centennial Park in the Toronto area. Today we’re on a visit to the arid house, which is full of plants from around the world that are adapted to dry and desert environments.

garden bed with cacti and succulents of various shapes and formsArid doesn’t mean boring or empty. This conservatory is full of a huge range of forms and plant shapes that fill every inch with something worth looking at.

large palm trees growing in the middle of a cacti and succulent gardenPonytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata, Zones 10–12) is often sold as a houseplant, but given ample space it will grow into a big dramatic plant like this. The swollen trunk serves to store water for dry seasons.

close up of skinny cactusYou can’t have an arid house without cacti. This family of plants is native to the Americas. The swollen stems store water, and the spines keep hungry—and thirsty—animals from munching on them. Those practical adaptations also turn them into living sculptures.

close up fo Mother-of-thousands plant in bloomMother-of-thousands (Kalanchoe, Zones 10–12 or as a houseplant) has attractive succulent leaves, but these nodding, bell-shaped flowers are beautiful, both when fresh and salmon-orange, and as they age and fade to pink.

smaller potted plants next to a large variegated agaveAgaves (Agave species, hardiness varies by variety) are another American succulent that is popular in arid displays for their huge leaves, which are often colored blue or even variegated.

close up of golden barrel cactusThe iconic golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii, Zones 9–12) is hugely popular in dry, warm landscapes but is endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction for agriculture and grazing.

various succulent plants in a raised garden bedAloe is an African genus of succulents with many different species, ranging from small rosettes to tall ones like this with their beautiful succulent foliage.

close up of Mammillaria cactusThis is a beautiful cactus, which I think is a species of Mammillaria.

small succulents planted into a tree-shaped towerA tower of small succulents makes a dramatic statement in the arid house.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. MohawkValley 03/31/2023

    Very nice . Too bad all plants can't grow everywhere . Nice collection of plants that most don't see in their outdoor gardens . I'm still very much a huge fan of personal outdoor gardens here in the U.S. Overall , we a bang-up "job" with our enthusiasm , which drives creativity and ultimately , great gardens ! Peace from the Mohawk Valley in NY .

  2. User avater
    simplesue 03/31/2023

    Another nice tour, thanks Cherry Ong! Interesting to see how large a Ponytail palm can grow- I've only seen them as houseplants!

    1. perenniallycrazy 03/31/2023

      The only other place I've seen them tall and large was at Ganna Walska Lotusland. That visit then really heightened my appreciation of them. Sadly, my houseplant remains short.

  3. sheila_schultz 03/31/2023

    Fun post Cherry!

    1. perenniallycrazy 03/31/2023

      Thank you.

  4. btucker9675 03/31/2023

    Love that succulent tower - lovely!!!

    1. perenniallycrazy 03/31/2023

      Me too! They had 2 botanical mannequins right at the entrance in the tropical greenhouse. I sent photos to Joseph of those too.

  5. jos29803 03/31/2023

    I love this!!!! The many shapes and textures are so amazing and stunning in their beauty and the colors are delightful.

  6. User avater
    DaMikoTRGS 05/25/2023

    Great Golden Barrel! So squat, sweet & stout. Cacti are fun in how they exist in arid places and are so stalwart against loss of moisture.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest