Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tropical Dome at The Mitchell Park Conservatory

If you have been following this blog you will know that I have highlighting our visit to the Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The last dome we visited was the tropical dome. Unlike the show and desert domes, the tropical dome was blissfully warm and humid. It was wonderful walking through enjoying the sights and sounds. Many tropical plants make wonderful houseplants where the growing conditions can be controled. I'm always drawn to the plants that I can't easily grow at home indoors or outdoors.

zebra plantZebra Plant

The Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) is a woody shrub native to Brazil. It is named for the white veins on the dark waxy green leaves. The zebra plant became a houseplant during the Victorian era when growing tropical plants indoors became popular. When used as a flowering houseplant it grows well in moderate to bright filtered light. It does best with higher humidity so either mist regularly or place on a rock humidity tray. The plant has a lovely yellow spike when in bloom as pictured but it can sometimes be difficult to get to bloom as a houseplant. The flower will last for several weeks.


I love citrus trees! At one time years ago I had a small ornamental citrus tree as a houseplant. We've visited Florida several times. The citrus groves are amazing to see but even better but seeing citrus trees growing in backyards is just pure envy. I would have a field day!

I really liked that the conservatory had several temporary signs to draw attention to various plants in bloom or setting fruit so you wouldn't miss them. Looking up the grapefruit tree sure enough there were several nice sized but green grapefruits. Aren't they gorgeous?


The Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica) is a fast growing evergreen native to India. It certainly earns its reputation for being nature's drugstore. Products of neem tree are widely used in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurvedic)and have proven medicinal properties including being anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fertility, and sedative. Neem oil is pressed from the fruit and stems of the Neem Tree. It is used for cosmetics and skin care as well as being an effective mosquito repellent. Neem gum is used as a bulking agent and for diabetic foods.

carob treeCarob Tree

The Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is native to the Mediterranean that grows well in dry climates. The bright, shinny unripened green seedpods are about 5-7 inches in length resembling green beans. They darken to almost pure black becoming somewhat withered when ripe. The edible seeds inside the pod can be eaten as is or ground to use as a chocolate substitute, flour, molasses and alcohol. The seed yield a tragacanth-like gum (manogalactan), called Tragasol an important commercial stabilizer and thickener used in may food products including baked goods, ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, cheese, salami, bologna, canned meats and fish, jelly, and mustard. Once the gum is extracted the seed residue is made into a starch- and sugar-free flour of 60% protein content for diabetics.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


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