6 Indoor Gardens to Explore This Winter


1. Morris Arboretum Fernery (Philadelphia, PA): The Dorrance H. Hamilton Fernery at Morris Arboretum was built in 1899, at the height of a Victorian fern craze known as 'pteridomania.' Garden enthusiast John T. Morris ordered a collection of over 500 plants to fill the fernery, an elegant creation of glass and steel with a graceful, curved roof. To create an optimal environment for the humidity-loving ferns, Morris turned to the latest technology in steam heating, glass cutting, and architecture--which makes the fernery a perfect escape from chilly winter days. Though just 53 feet long, the building holds hundreds of ferns to explore among stony pathways, gentle fountains, and hidden grottos.

2. New York Botanical Garden (The Bronx, NY): Founded in 1891, the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden is home to over 50 gardens and plant collections. The centerpiece of the garden is the Enid N. Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian glasshouse filled with gorgeous tropical plants, towering palms, and rugged cacti. A delicate, white iron frame and abundant glass panes give the space airy appeal, while a mild climate for the tropical specimens makes it the perfect retreat from winter weather.

3. Hortus Botanicus (Amsterdam, Netherlands): One of the world's oldest botanical gardens, the Hortus Botanicus was founded in 1638 as an herb garden for doctors and apothecaries. Since then, its collection has grown to include more than 6,000 plants, from native specimens to exotic tropicals gathered centuries ago by the Dutch traders of the East India Company. During the winter months, visitors can explore the grand Palm House, airy Orangery, and hexagonal pavilion dating back to the seventeenth century. 

4. Phipps Conservatory (Pittsburgh, PA): Founded in 1893 by steel magnate Henry Phipps, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a green oasis and landmark for the people of Pittsburgh. A fourteen-room Victorian greenhouse serves as the centerpiece of Phipps; winter visitors can explore its collections of palm trees, ferns, orchids, tropical fruit and spice plants, and more. The conservatory is also home to a collection of works by glass artist Dale Chihuly, custom-made to compliment the living plants. 

5. Eden Project (Cornwall, United Kingdom): Built on the site of a former clay pit in the Cornish countryside, the Eden Project is centered around two gigantic biomes, housed inside geodesic domes made from inflated, plastic cells supported by steel frames. Each eye-catching dome holds a unique environment; one contains a rainforest of tropical plants, while the other mimics a Mediterranean climate. Though outdoor gardens surround the domes during the summer months, each massive structure offers ample room for winter visitors to explore. 

6. Kew Gardens (London, United Kingdom): One of the largest and most diverse botanical gardens in the world, Kew was founded in southwest London in 1840. Plant lovers will find a wealth of options to explore in winter, from the eighteenth-century Orangery to the contemporary Alpine House. Most remarkable however, are the elegantly arched Palm House and sprawling Temperate House. The largest surviving Victorian glass structure in the world, the Temperate House will reopen in 2018 after five years of careful restoration. 

Photo credits: 1&2. terrain; 3. Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam; 4. Phipps Conservatory; 5. Eden Project; 6. Kew

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