There are pyramids in Canada – True or False? False, you’d say with glee. There are pyramids in Egypt, not Canada, you would tell us rather patronizingly. And we’d look at you fondly and tell you that there are, in fact, pyramids in Canada, and that too in the middle of a garden!
The Muttart Conservatory, located in the North Saskatchewan River valley is home to four beautiful glass pyramids, which, in turn, house different botanical regions. There are two large pyramids and two small ones. The larger ones cover an area of 660 square meters and the smaller ones are 410 square meters in size. Three of the pyramids showcase botanical displays from tropical, temperate, and arid regions while the fourth one is reserved for shows with changing themes. Information related to each environment can be found at the entrance of each section, and the moment you step into the pyramids, you can feel the effects of a whole new climatic zone.
The Temperate Pavilion
The Temperate Pavilion houses plants from areas of temperate climates, such as Australia, the southern Great Lakes, and the mountainous regions of Asia. As you enter, you see a bog area that is fed by a stream and has parrot’s feather and white water lilies. Further ahead there are low shrubs and the eastern deciduous trees, such as redwoods and cedars. In the Australian section you get to see flowering shrubs and Eucalyptus trees and several other tiny flowering plants.
The Arid Pavilion
The Arid Pavilion is kept warm so as to simulate the appropriate environment for cacti and other desert plants. The conservatory has also managed to recreate barren and rocky slopes of various arid zones, which gives you the feel of standing right in the middle of a hot and dry desert.
The Tropical Pavilion
The Tropical Pavilion showcases diverse kinds of plants. The warm temperatures in this section are conducive to plants like orchids, vines, bananas, tall palms, weeping fig, hibiscus, and birds of paradise. In the fourth pyramid, the temperature is modified according to the needs of the seasonal plants that are kept on special display.
The construction of the Muttart Conservatory was only possible after the Gladys and Merrill Muttart Foundation gave a donation. The rest of the funding came from the City of Edmonton and the Province of Alberta and the City of Edmonton. It was designed by architect Peter Hemingway and today the conservatory is owned and operated by the Edmonton Parks and Recreation Department. It is also a very popular destination for parties and special functions like weddings. Only recently, the conservatory received a ‘face lifting’ renovation that cost around $6.3 million.
The next time you are in Edmonton and wish to see the major climatic zones of the world housed in creatively designed pyramids, head over to the Muttart Conservatory. It’s a wonderful experience.
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