It was 26 degrees yesterday in Cleveland, Ohio, well below the normal for this time of year. My snowdrops were even limp outside in my garden and I hope my iris reticula and crocuses don’t get frost bite from the cold North winds crossing Lake Erie. So, I wound up this afternoon at the Rockefeller Greenhouse. This place, tucked in a corner of the park of that same name, is one of the city’s best kept secrets.
Originally constructed in 1905, at a time when Cleveland was one of the top five largest cities in the nation, the Greenhouse has many plants crammed into it’s rather small premises. Many articles in the local media, and blogs for that matter (one by Design Culture Cleveland blog from 2012 is a case in point) which shows you the enthusiasm locals have for this place. While overshadowed by its state-of-the-art botanical neighbor down at University Circle, the Greenhouse’s intimate spaces are where one can easily sniff a blooming gardenia is well worth a weekend visit.
The staff decorate the public spaces for each season with a variety of plants. Right now, in anticipating Easter, dwarf lilies, cyclamen, and florist hydrangea line many of the walkways while the regular residents of orchids, blooming lemon trees and one gardenia bush add exotic scents to the air. It continues to amuse me to see oranges ripening on a full size tree in the central conservatory space and, to this day, wonder what they do with all those oranges.
As spring finally comes to Cleveland, the adjacent grounds will come to life as well. They have a few small display gardens, such as the Japanese Garden and, recently, one laid out for a pretty impressive iris collection. There always seems to be at least a few cars parked in their lot whenever I go there and even Lolly the Trolly stops there as part of its sightseeing tours.
The Rockefeller Greenhouse is open from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 PM every day and admission is free. For further information feel free to call them at (216) 664-3103 or visit them on the web at rockefellergreenhouse.org for more information.
Photographs taken by author.