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.
Arid 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.
Ponytail 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.
You 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.
Mother-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.
Agaves (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.
The 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.
Aloe is an African genus of succulents with many different species, ranging from small rosettes to tall ones like this with their beautiful succulent foliage.
This is a beautiful cactus, which I think is a species of Mammillaria.
A tower of small succulents makes a dramatic statement in the arid house.
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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 .
Another nice tour, thanks Cherry Ong! Interesting to see how large a Ponytail palm can grow- I've only seen them as houseplants!
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.
Fun post Cherry!
Love that succulent tower - lovely!!!
Me too! They had 2 botanical mannequins right at the entrance in the tropical greenhouse. I sent photos to Joseph of those too.
I love this!!!! The many shapes and textures are so amazing and stunning in their beauty and the colors are delightful.
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.
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