Forcing Beauty…


If you’re counting the days until Spring, a trip to the Muttart Conservatory, nestled in Edmonton’s river valley, may tide you over. The greenery and scent, along with an explosion of colour, all housed in the four glassed pyramids, is guaranteed to satisfy all those seeking beauty and inspiration for their own gardens.

Each of the four pyramids offers visitors the opportunity to see trees and plants from all over the world. The Tropical pyramid is lush with towering palm, banana and fig trees and brilliant exotic flowers. Greeted by the sound of water and a wall of humidity, you are instantly swept away to a faraway paradise. The Temperate pyramid, my favourite, offers vegetation closest to our growing zone, albeit possibly with warmer temperatures. The temperature in this pyramid is controlled to allow trees and plants to go through a dormant period. The pussy willows were just ready to pop. The air in the Arid pyramid is bone dry with cactus and succulents of every variety that grows naturally in hot and cold climates. The Feature pyramid changes throughout the year reflecting special events or seasons. Currently, the display celebrates the “Year of the Tiger”.

A friend of mine also visited the Muttart Conservatory this week, and the photos below are her photos.

The Tropical Pyramid                                                 The Koi Pond


Succulents in the Arid Pyramid                       “Year of the Tiger”, the Feature

Camellias in the tropical pyramid (I think some were in the temperature pyramid, too) were in full bloom or on the verge. To add some Spring into my own home, I picked up a bundle of camellia branches at the florist. The stems are loaded with buds that should flower in a blush white in a few days.

I also noticed some viburnum branches in full bloom in buckets in the florist’s cooler. I’ve never considered cutting branches from my garden to force indoors at this time of year, but after reading through the list below, lilacs might be something to try…


Camellias are not hardy in my growing zone (4), but I do love them, especially the pure white ones. It was Coco Chanel’s favourite flower and is the floral emblem of the Chanel brand. Although we may never know for sure, there are several theories on why the camellia was so significant to Chanel. One was that her lover, Boy Capel, had once given her a bouquet of camellias, another was from the book by Alexandre Dumas,  La Dame aux Camelias (The Lady of the Camellias), and others speculated that it was after seeing Sarah Bernhardt perform in the play that was adapted from this book. Chanel also appreciated that camellia is unscented and, therefore, would not interfere with a woman’s personal fragrance, preferably Chanel No. 5.


If you have ever made a purchase at a Chanel Boutique, you will recognize the black box, tied with a white ribbon, adorned with a white camellia.

xox Judy



























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