Temporary tropics


Looks like there is a warm-up in store for those of you who
aren’t used to and weren’t expecting the snow/cold weather you’ve been having.
Good. But I don’t like being emotionally tied to the weather; I avoid it as
much as I can, as strange as that sounds for a gardener. Weather just is.

And there are all kinds of ways to ignore it, when you don’t
need it. We’ve talked about indoor gardening, toddies, and winter sports. One
of my favorite ways—that wasn’t as much discussed—has long been visiting the local
conservatory. Now, this can be boring, it’s true.  Greenhouse-based gardens don’t change that much over the
years; you will always see many of the same plants.

But the plants do change sometimes, and, more important, you
notice interesting things on repeated visits. I never realized that
strobilanthes had a flower (above), for example. And though I never liked
bonsai much, their new display (also shown) makes me give them a second thought.

Repeated visits to the same garden, just like repeated
viewings of the same film, or re-reading a book, can be surprisingly
enlightening experiences.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Just blogged something similar about my first trip to the Como Park Conservatory in St Paul MN. I know the plants will not change significantly from year to year; it was more that feeling of moist air and the smell of damp soil and things growing that was so satisfying in the depths of winter.

  2. Rhonda, know exactly what you mean! I try to get over to Como at least once every winter. Your comment reminded me that it’s time!

  3. I love looking at bonsai. I don’t have the discipline to maintain my own [and shudder at the plants that go to well-meaning homes only to die] but I adore the miniaturization of the tree.

  4. It’s time for my annual reverse migration North to Philadelphia to work at the big flower show. This always includes a trip to Longwood. Much cheaper than flying to the tropics.

    As mentioned above, I think there is something recharging about being around lush green-ness and the smell of garden soil in the dead of winter.

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