The Druid Hill Park Conservatory, now called The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore in Maryland is a beautiful place for a stroll through the park. The conservatory features year round displays of plants and flowers in five different indoor facilities. There are 35 flowerbeds on a one and a half acre garden that bloom from early spring until late fall. The conservatory also offers three annual special displays which include their Spring Flower Show, a Fall Chrysanthemum display, and their Holiday Pointsettia show. The spring flower show also offers an egg hunt for the children.
The conservatory underwent a major renovation in 2004 which linked its oldest structures to the greenhouses on the site. Two new structures were erected in order to comlete this connection, and this has created a more visitor friendly space, and provided meeting space for hosting conferences or other events at the conservatory. Linking the buildings means visitors do not need to go outside when moving from building to building.
The five facilities on the grounds each offers unique plant material and botanical displays. The 1888 Palm House is a five story structure and is one of the original buildings from 1888. The building was designed by George Frederick, who also designed Baltimore's City Hall. The building is the display area for a variety of large palm trees. Adjoining the 1888 Palm House is the Orchid Room, and is the other original structure. The Orchid Room, aptly named for its unique displays of rare orchids. There are also informational pieces that discuss the care of orchids and common misconceptions about growing the plants.
The Mediterranean House is one of three greenhouses located at conservatory and it is designed to mimic the hot, dry summers, and mild, wet winters of the Mediterranean. Bouganvilla climbs the walls around you as you stroll down pathways lined with Mediterranean olive trees. Another of the greenhouses is the Tropical House. This area features exotic flowers and fruit trees growing bananas, papayas, and guavas. There is also a small indoor waterfall and there are periodic mistings to keep the building moist. The last of the greenhouses is the Desert House. This building mimics the dry oasis of the desert, but it is surprisingly cool. There is lots of sun and cacti thrive in every corner of the building.
The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory can be rented for a variety of events including weddings, meetings, parties, workshops, and special events. Tours and community groups are welcome to visit the conservatory. The conservatory is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 - 4:00 pm. Visits typically take 30 minutes to an hour and a half, but could certainly be longer if you want to slowly stroll through the area and enjoy the sights, especially on a cold winter day. Admission is free, but a $2.00 donation is suggested.
Those looking for a fun, educational activity during the spring and summer months, or anyone who wants a chance to get out of the cold and experience a reminscience of warmer times during the winter should pay a visit to The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore.