Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rawlings Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

I had the most wonderful site-inspection at a true gem in Baltimore this week, the Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park. 
The Palm House was built in 1888 and is on of the few remaining Victorian conservatories left in the world. It was designed by architect George Frederick, who also designed City Hall and the Mansion at Cylburn Arboretum.

After nearly five years living in Baltimore I finally had an excuse to go and take a look at this space for a hopeful event. We live a little over a mile, door to door, to this jewel and I look forward to many trips back.

My visit was during a closed day to meet with the event manager at the property. I walked in on a flock of cranes being installed for the upcoming Chrysanthemum exhibit. I can feel Doug rolling his eyes all the way from Kalorama over the thought of a "mum" show. Turns out they are highly valued in the Asian culture.

While the cranes were put to flight inside, the mums were being planted outside of the Palm House. I never thought I'd be excited for a mum show, but hey, I am.

There are three greenhouses connected by pathways behind the South and North Pavilions. The Desert House, Tropical House, and Mediterranean House.

The Dessert House had a gorgeous, large Agave plant greeting you as you enter. Botanical Gardens and Arboretums always hearken back to a "Little Shop of Horror" kind of felling. This Agave could have burst into song at any moment.

I could have spent hours lowering my blood pressure watching the coy. You can feed them for $.25.

The Conservatory, given enough time, will grow plants for your guests as a gift. I love the idea of little air plants as give-aways.

The space is great for a wandering cocktail reception with dinner and dancing tented on the lawn.

North Pavilion, Orchid House, Chimney and Palm House

North Lawn for tenting

North Pavilion

The Orchid Room

Lori, my guide, is a Master Gardener and knew every name of every plant. She said there is a wait list to get on the next round of classes at Cylburn. They have a staff person who makes sure all of the orchids are in bloom and rotates them out each week in this space.

The Palm House was just stunning and romantic. They have many brides get married in this space. I'm sure the acoustics are fabulous for a trio, or my go-to flute and classic guitar favorite for entertainment.

The Orchid House, with living peace sign.

The windows of the Palm House are actually painted a chalky white for shading in the summer. I'm sure it gets pretty hot in there. They are cleaned off in the fall for all the light to shine in during the winter months.


The Conservatory has big plans to expand the gardens in the future. Click here to see the full diagrams. The hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm and suggested $5 donations for entrance.


Ella said...

What a lovely place with so many exotic plants. It must have been wonderful to walk around in it.

LPC said...

What gorgeous photos. I'd love to spend time wandering around.