Friday, September 4, 2009

Idle Vacation

We had wanted to go to the Muttart Conservatory for the longest time. I'm in love with plants and flowers. I have about a hundred books and about double that in random plant pictures. Unfortunately, the Muttart Conservatory had been under construction just about a month after we both moved here and has been until recently. We waited patiently until the weekend after the grand opening and scheduled one of our impromptu city vacations for the next Saturday.
It's a very pretty and peaceful spot to be. I don't know what it looked like prior to the renovations, but it's a gorgeous place to walk around now. They have benches scattered about so you can sit and enjoy the plants and also the climate of each zone. It was surprisingly busy, though, so you did have to walk around a bit to find a good bench. I do have a couple gripes about it, unfortunately. Firstly, for the money, I don't think there's enough there. You can walk around outside and see their landscaped property for free which is just about equal to what's inside plus it's a better walk overall. They have four pyramids. Three remain constant and one is reserved for special installations. When we went, the special installation theme was music and there were interesting instrument displays accompanying the plants, but it wasn't amazing. All of the feature pyramid plants I noticed, I could easily buy in any retail store in the city which really helped to make it less than spectacular. Not surprisingly, it was the only pyramid where we had the place entirely to ourselves, and we spent most of our time there just because it was empty and we like being away from crowds. Secondly, I have a major gripe with the gift shop. Why weren't the gifts plant related? If there had been cuttings of the cacti, for example, I would have been the first one loading up the counter with purchases (I used to have a crown of thorns and would very much like to have one again. I've never seen them sold in stores and it was so hard for me not to take my own cutting -- if it hadn't have been so darn busy, I probably would have). Instead, they had typical gift trinkets I would expect to see in any drug store. Boring. If the focus is on the plants, I don't want to buy a watch made with cheap, washed stones, you know? I was just so frustrated with this given that their special installation room was filled with plants I knew I could buy anywhere. Besides, if I know how to easily propagate cacti, shouldn't they?
It wasn't a terrible waste of time and money, but given the amount of time they took to finish their renovations, my expectations weren't matched, and that's particularly upsetting to me because of my fixation on plants. Maybe this was what they could manage in order to open when they did and maybe it'll be more developed with time. I sure hope so. It's such a great concept and would be a fantastic place to hang out during the long winter months. Maybe we'll check it out again when we've had enough grey and -50 degree weather.

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