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Monday, October 5, 2009

Arboretum Review : Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
1100 South Calhoun Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802

Date Visited : 18 September 2009

While staying in Fort Wayne this September I made a point to visit the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. I can recall visiting the conservatory a handful of times over the years. Each time I return I see it in an entirely different light. As a child the conservatory seemed like an endless labyrinth of tropical waterfalls and vast open spaces. As a teen the whole experience was slightly lackluster, taking only minutes to stride though without a second glance at what I was missing. As an adult I am really able to appreciate what a rare collection of plants the conservatory offers for this part of the country.

The conservatory is in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is tucked in between the Embassy Theatre, the Catholic Cathedral, and the Grand Wayne Convention Center. From Calhoun Street the three glass-roofed atriums stand out prominently.

The entry foyer

The Tulip Tree gift shop offers a large selection of odds and ends including an assortment of house plants, bonsai trees, and educational resources.

Upon entering the Conservatory you are greeted by a slightly disturbing tree who stands guard over the Discovery Gallery. A collection of activities and resources are available to children as they learn and explore.

The Discovery Gallery

A quick skip down The Yellow Brick Road from the Discovery Gallery brings you to the first atrium titled "The Showcase Garden". On the day we visited there was literally a yellow brick road along with an entire collection of Wizard of OZ themed exhibits throughout the gardens.

The Showcase Garden

Moving on from the Showcase Garden you enter the second atrium titled "The Tropical Garden". From the overlook at the top of the Tropical Garden you can see straight into the tree tops.

We had to dodge a few Flying Monkeys as we passed under the waterfall.

The Tropical Garden spirals down from the overlook to a quiet little Koi Pond shaded under fruit trees.

Perhaps the most unique tree in the entire collection, this piece of art is quietly tucked into the Tropical Garden. Constructed entirely from railroad spikes, this tree is surprisingly easy to miss at first glance. While the trunk is made of iron, the foliage is quite alive. Bromeliads cover the branches gathering water and nutrients from the air without the need for soil.

Moving on from the roar of the waterfall in the Tropical Gardens, the Desert Garden is quiet and relaxing space. The air is noticeably drier and the decor transitions toward the American South West.
Some of the cactus varieties look fairly tame after observing the thorns in the Tropical Garden. Small children should be kept close throughout the conservatory. Thorns, poisonous plants, and some pretty dramatic water features all pose very real dangers.

Stepping outside from the Desert Garden you enter the Exploration Garden. Trails curve through the shade of the overhead maple canopy. Benches and tables await those who seek to escape to a quiet retreat.

Adjacent to the Exploration Garden, the Terrace Garden is setup for a wedding. Stepping patios, seating walls and water features surround a large event space.

The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is really a rare gem for Northern Indiana. No where else in the area offers the opportunity for people to experience plants like this. In the middle of winter visitors have the ability to escape to a tropical rainforest or airid desert landscape.

Observed Trees:
Acacia willardiana - Palo Blanco
Araucaria bidwillii - Bunya-Bunya
Artocarpus altilis - Breadfruit
Brugmansia x candida - Angel's Trumpet
Camellia japonica - Camellia
Cananga odorata - Perfume Tree
Caryota mitis - Clustered Fishtail Palm
Citrus sinensis - Common Orange
Eriobotrya japonica - Loquat
Ficus benjamina - Weeping Fig

Ficus deltoidea - Mistletoe Fig
Ficus pumila - Creeping Fig
Fortunella margarita - Oval Kumquat
Guaiacum sanctum - Lignum vitae
Kalanchoe beharensis - Feltbush
Lysiloma thornberi - Feather Bush
Murraya paniculata - Orange Jasmine
Musa acuminata - Edible Banana
Musa acuminata spp. zebrina - Blood Banana
Myrciaria cauliflora - Jaboticaba
Olea europaea - Olive Tree
Punica granatum - Pomegranate
Prosopis juliflora velutina - Velvet Mesquite
Simmondsia chinensis - Jojoba