on a cold, cold day what could be better than a tropical paradise? fortunately for us, there is one located on that jewel in the river, belle isle. the belle isle conservatory is one of my favorite places to go on a cold day, and what cold days we had this last week, ice crystals freezing on my beard cold. the belle isle conservatory is actually the anne scripps whitcomb conservatory. In operation since 1904 the conservatory bears the name of ms. whitcomb on account of her donating her collection of over 600 orchids. The orchids can be seen in a rotating display by the children’s temperance fountain, but the best display seems to be in january and february, i’m just basing that on my observations.
i tried to learn more about the fountain, and what the story behind it was. is the idea to promote temperance for children, or was donated by a group of children that are in favor of temperance. i just didn’t realize that drunken children were such a problem as to create a statue promoting temperance. i have a friend that volunteers at the conservatory i’ll have to ask him.
the conservatory is just about the only place to forage for tropical fruit in detroit. today we took nothing but photos, in the past we have obtained, figs, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, and kumquats. none of this is of course authorized, but we only take one or 2 and occasionally the bananas are cut and place right next to the pathway as though to say “go ahead take some, nobody is watching”
in addition to the edible wonders, the conservatory is just a nice place to hang out, full of big palm trees, tree ferns, cactus, and in warmer seasons an outdoor pound with big koi. the conservatory keeps record of how many visitors come, and often, even though it is late in the day i will be only the 3rd or 4th person to visit. this worries me that it will cause the conservatory to close on account of a lack of visitors, which is one of the reasons for writing this post, the hope that it would encourage folks to visit and often and bring their friend and family. you won’t be sorry.