The tri-domed conservatory of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens dominates the landscape of gorgeous Frederick Law Olmsted-designed South Park. The gardens are a perfect place for meditative strolls through sky-high palm trees, burbling water features, and hundreds of various flower species in every imaginable color.
Visitors can scout out flowers on vines overhead, peeking out of the edges of cacti, and near the ground. A springtime visit to the gardens – when the buildings, especially the central dome, are teeming with blooms – is not to be missed.
Spotted on a recent visit on a sunny afternoon were the following floral wonders. Each of these six flowers has a story.
Subtle are the rose-colored stems of the plant Croton, with layers of tiny red buds resembling nascent coffee beans (Coffea Arabica cherries, officially) that open into delicate yellow and green puffs. The mother plant is large and hearty with waxy oval-shaped leaves of green, red, black, and yellow. The woody stalk shows that this plant, near the central glass dome, has been happily at home here for quite some time.
Another plant that is familiar to houseplant lovers, Anthurium are seen throughout the Botanical Gardens. House 12 features an unusual pure white Anthurium plant, which features the species’ heart-shaped leaves and signature, pink stamen and is surrounded by lush and bright green fern plants.
Needle Flower Tree
A cousin of the coffee plant and in the madder family, Needle Flower Tree is native to Central America. The onsite specimen is in the Rainforest display underneath the eastern dome of the gardens, near the doorway leading to their events space. This tree has blossoms that are at face height, and up to twelve feet high. If you position your nose just right, and the flowers are at just the right bloom, you will smell its very subtle scent.
Another plant that is up high is the impressive Sky Vine, with hundreds of lavender-colored blooms resembling orchids. This prolific plant, sometimes referred to as Clock Vine, has overtaken several poles in House 2 between the seven-tiered concrete fountain and the koi pond near the gardens’ famed waterfall. Sky Vine is a tropical perennial whose official name is Thunbergia, native to Africa.
Cow Horn is in the building devoted to cacti. Volunteers have arranged this plant among rocks and other cacti resembling a desert landscape, and its next door neighbor is also named for an animal. Bear Grass, resembling an aloe vera plant, is a thin specimen of agave (fun fact: tequila is made from Agave Azul, also called Agave tequilana. Yes, really).
Chinese Perfume Tree
Here is another example of one of the most discrete and subtle flowers in the entire Botanical Gardens: the Chinese Perfume Tree. Located in House 5 and among the Medicinal Garden area, this shrub is in the Mahogany Family. The flowers are tiny bright yellow balls that do not open; their scent resembles lemons. Another aromatic plant, Yellow Jasmine, is its next-door neighbor.