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Gardener's Grapevine 2012.10.17

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

Last Saturday our entire family went to Cincinnati for our nephew Jake’s wedding. It was the most unusual wedding I have ever been to. It was held at Krohn Conservatory. Since we had never been there we were not sure where we were going or what to expect, but it was more than any of us expected.

I’m not really sure what the property originally was used for, but we did find out the greenhouses were started in the 1930s. The main greenhouse was a two story and had five additional greenhouses attached to it. The main greenhouse where the wedding was held had a waterfall that fell from the highest part of the ceiling over rocks and into a pool that emptied into a stream that flowed throughout the greenhouse.

Tropical plants grew all around in abundance, and some of the palms were over 20 feet tall. It was pretty amazing. Throughout the entire wedding you could hear the water falling behind the bride and groom. Water falling over rocks or crashing to the shore has to be one of the most beautiful sounds ever. After dinner in the butterfly greenhouse we could tour the other three.

I have no idea where the butterflies went during our use of their room, but I didn’t see any and we were in there quite a while and it was plenty warm enough for them to be out. There was, however, an interesting fruit tree in one corner full of cantaloupe-sized fruit. It was called an ugly fruit tree. The fruit didn’t seem too ugly to me; I guess it’s a matter of opinion. 

There was a tree behind our table that had a name I couldn’t pronounce, but it looked all gnarled, had few leaves and stringy looking moss hanging off it like grey hair. We all laughed because the trunk looked like a wrinkled up face.

One of the other greenhouses had very old bonsai trees in many different varieties. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen bonsais quite that old. Another greenhouse held every orchid you could ever imagine. I don’t know much at all about orchids except they are fragile and interesting to look at. Supposedly there was an orchid that smelled like chocolate. I smelled it and all I got was the smell of dirt. Either my sense of smell has gone south or somebody has an active imagination.

The fourth greenhouse had desert plants which translated to cacti. This room was interesting. Everything I looked at had thorns in many varying sizes. There was a tree in that room that had thorns all around its trunk in a swirling pattern and rows about an inch apart. The boughs of the tree had millions of thorns in tight succession all along them. I think we found the perfect squirrel-proof place for a bird feeder! The cacti room gave me a kind of futuristic creepy sense. I am glad I don’t have to spend much time in there. 

The fifth greenhouse was supposed to be like the Amazon and it was really neat. There was a pomegranate tree with baseball-sized pomegranates hanging on it. The cocoa bean tree did smell like chocolate and in the center of this greenhouse was a banyan tree of some size. Now, banyan trees I know about. We go to the John and Mabel Ringling museums in Sarasota, Fla., and they have huge banyans that are very old. Banyans are interesting in that they send out aerial roots that hang down and start growing into the ground. These form limbs that are like another tree trunk, and really odd looking. The largest banyan I ever saw was Thomas Edison’s at his Fort Meyers laboratory. It is as big as an entire parking lot and still growing! Apparently the banyan in the greenhouse got frequent hair cuts as there was a very tall ladder leaned against the tree.

If you ever have time to kill in Cincinnati, I would recommend you check out the Krohn Conservatory.

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