Canada is known for many things, but chief among them is snow. While the west coast enjoys a bit of a cool down during the winter months, the prairie provinces and east coast take plugging in their cars (to the bafflement of anyone living in warmer climates), carrying a scraper and shovel in the back of the car and clearing their driveway before (and sometimes during and after) work as part of winter life.
What does get tiresome, however, is missing the beauty of greenery and fresh flowers as winter wears on. There’s only so many snowmen and ice sculptures a Canadian can take, so when the deep freeze is at its zenith, check out these indoor gardens to tide yourself over until spring.
Muttart Conservatory: The most famous indoor gardens in Edmonton, Alberta are located in the Muttart Conservatory. Three of the glass pyramids are devoted to climates: arid, tropical and temperate. The fourth pyramid changes with the seasons, displaying colorful umbrellas and a koi pond among vivid blooms one season, and row upon row of deep red poinsettias the next.
In addition to being the perfect place to stroll through gardens in the dead of winter, you never know when plant life in the pyramids is going to get really exciting! In 2013, a corpse flower delighted guests with its massive bloom and pungent aroma. In 2012 a flower stalk appeared on a 35-year old agave plant. As agave only bloom once (and very dramatically so as a bloom signals its death), thousands flocked to see the rare sight. The stalk shot from ground level to the top of the pyramid in a matter of weeks, and now five “offspring” shoots remain where the impressive agave once stood.
Assiniboine Park Conservatory: Located in Winnipeg, this Conservatory features several gardens, including a tropical house. It’s open year round and contains more than 8,000 flowers, plants and trees. Until November 20, 2016, a Japanese Fall Festival is lighting up the rotating display. Here you’ll see elements of traditional Japanese gardens, such as bamboo, mums, bog lily and lemon grass. A gate and water feature make the Japanese garden a great place for photos, too.
Montreal Botanical Garden: The 10 greenhouses are just one of the attractions of this garden in Montreal. There are also special events year round, such as the Gardens of Light, where the Chinese and Japanese gardens are illuminated. From February to April, visitors can enjoy butterflies flying freely in the main dome, and kids will love getting up close and personal to ants and spiders in the Insectarium.
Bloedel Floral Conservatory: Perched atop a hill in Vancouver’s beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park, is a dome with more than 200 birds and hundreds of tropical plants. The Bloedel is a bird watchers and garden enthusiast’s paradise. Guides and lists available to help guests of all ages identify the feathered friends and leafy foliage. The dome features three climate zones: tropical rainforest, subtropical rainforest and desert. There’s also a healing garden to help you re-centre and focus when the stresses of life get too overwhelming.
Indoor gardens are a great family activity and provide a welcome respite during the depths of winter. In addition to the many indoor gardens you can find across Canada, there are also many beautiful outdoor gardens that have exhibits and activities stretching into the fall. The next time you and your family are looking for something fun or different to do, check out a garden. Bring your camera. You’ll be surprised at how much there is to do, see and learn among the plants and flowers.