Many people begin to wonder how long they can continue to enjoy the beauty and colors of gardens as summer segues into fall and thoughts turn to the long, cold Midwestern winters, but visitors to Indiana's downtown Fort Wayne can enjoy a towering cactus in a desert garden, a tropical waterfall or colorful gardens year round.
It doesn't matter whether you visit the city during the heat and humidity of summer, or during the dead of winter, it's always a beautiful summer day when you step inside of the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in the heart of the city's downtown.
Friends and garden fans Helene Foellinger and Bill Sowers thought it would be nice to be able to enjoy the beauty of nature year round and set about to spearhead the building and opening of the botanical conservatory in 1983.
Started with the installation of a beefsteak begonia plant, today the conservatory is so much more than simply a garden under glass.
The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory now encompasses a 25,000-square-foot building and additional outdoor garden and event space for a total of 217,555 square feet of land taking up two full city blocks.
The gardens display over 1,200 plants of 502 different species, including 72 different types of cactus in the indoor Sonoran desert garden.
Other indoor gardens include a tropical garden with a waterfall and a showcase garden that hosts four different seasonal exhibits each year. The outdoor Streetside, Beverforden, Terrace and Exploration gardens are also open throughout the year and play host to many weddings, concerts and other special events during the warmer months.
Programs at the conservatory include classes for all ages in subjects like gardening, photography, crafts, nutrition and Tai Chi sessions in the gardens. The facility also hosts photography and art exhibits.
The conservatory serves as a regional clearing house for plant information and is also one of 62 rescue centers in the United States for internationally endangered and protected plants that find their way here illegally.
Stop by the in-house Bagel Station, the gift store or relax for a while in the sun-filled lobby to enjoy the facility's free Wi-Fi. Find some new plants for your garden and other garden and decor merchandise in the outdoor Sales Garden.
Check out the Web site or the Foellinger-Freimann Facebook page for information about conservatory events and news.
The current showcase exhibit, "Rhythm and Flow", runs through November 16, 2014 and upcoming events include fall and harvest-themed events like a Pumpkin Path display offering Halloween-style settings for family photos during the latter half of October and a special showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".
Hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday. The conservatory closes on Mondays, New Years Day and Christmas Day.
Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 3 to 17 and free for children ages 2 and under.
Be sure to check out my Photo Friday post about the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory's butterfly exhibit earlier this spring and summer.
Thanks to Visit Fort Wayne for sponsoring my recent visit to Fort Wayne, Indiana, providing lodging, meals and help arranging interviews and tours of area attractions for my review, with no further compensation. I was free to express my own opinions about this stay and experiences, and the opinions expressed here are mine.
© Dominique King 2014 All rights reserved