When looking at plants and flowers sounds dreadful to you, give it a shot. This conservatory is located on Detroit’s famous Belle Isle Park and is truly a sight to behold. Besides being housed in an absolutely gorgeous building, it also shares its 13-acre plot with the formal gardens, as well as the lily pond. Whether you’re into plants or not, get here today and see the amazingly beautiful architecture and the glasswork. The Conservatory is divided into five different “houses” or sections of interest for visitors.
- The Palm Room, where visitors to the conservatory can check out all of the different species of tropical trees that are housed there.
- In the Cactus Room, check out a huge display of the newly popular succulents and several types of cacti.
- In The Sunken Fernery, observers will be greeted first with the incredible design that is meant to provide cooler temperatures, but more humidity to foster the growth of ferns in their ideal conditions.
- In the Tropical House, you’ll get to see all of the different plants that can provide food as well as a plethora of different trees and plants that are indigenous to more tropical climates than those found in Detroit.
- The Show House is where visitors will go to check out the latest in a long line of rotating flora and fauna throughout the year. Most of the plants displayed here are of a flowering nature, so prepare to be dazzled by what nature can do.
The conservatory was opened in 1904 and by the twenties, it was pulling in over a million visitors per year. They flocked to Belle Isle to see the beautiful plant life offered within and few were disappointed. To the left of the conservatory is a beautiful lily pond, while the right side features the formal gardens. In these gardens, visitors will be treated to the sight of all of the perennials, as well as the Levi L Barbour Memorial Fountain.
Over the years, many different additions have been made to the conservatory including completely rebuilding its wooden frame using aluminum. The project cost $500,000 in 1953, which is equivalent to a little over 4 million dollars these days. However, it is probably for the best that the money was spent to make the changes as the aluminum frame is likely responsible for the building’s longevity.
In 1955, the building earned its namesake, when Anna Scripps Whitcomb passed away. She donated over 600 different orchids to the conservatory, giving it the distinction of having the largest orchid collection in the world. Many of the orchids were quite exotic and some had been saved from Great Britain during the second world war. As a result of her generous donation, the conservatory was renamed.
Whether plants rev your engine or not, this is a sure stop for anyone looking to visit Belle Isle.