AAA Editor Notes
Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, 301 W. Reno Ave., contains both an outdoor garden and an enclosed tropical conservatory. Set on 17 acres surrounding a lake in the downtown central business district, the gardens were the vision of the late oil and gas magnate Dean A. McGee, founder of Kerr-McGee Corp. Architect I.M. Pei was commissioned to create McGee’s dream, based on the Tivoli Gardens.
The gardens’ serene landscape includes a lake, winding paths, innovative water features, hundreds of trees and an assortment of colorful plantings that bloom from winter through fall. Sculptures add to the enchanting scene, and a bridge across the lake provides views of the city skyline. Among the flowers that blossom throughout the year are pansies, wisteria, daylilies, peonies, daffodils, tulips, chrysanthemums and black-eyed Susans.
The 224-foot-long, seven-story-high conservatory is a cylinder 70 feet in diameter made of more than 3,000 translucent acrylic panels. You know you’re in a tropical environment as soon as you enter and the warm, humid air envelops you.
The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory is home to more than 2,000 types of plants and is divided into two areas: the Tropical Rain Forest Zone (known as the Wet Mountain) and the Dry Tropical Zone (Dry Mountain). The lush wet zone is where you’ll find a 35-foot waterfall and a skywalk across the center of the conservatory that offers panoramic views. The dry zone, which is only watered in summer, can reach a temperature of 95 F. More than 100 types of palms, cycads, gingers, funnel-shaped bromeliads, dozens of varieties of orchids, spiny plants known as euphorbias and more than 100 varieties of begonias are among the exotic plantings in the conservatory.
An audio tour is available by cellphone. Special events are held including a holiday light display during the Christmas season.
Pets on leash are allowed. Food is available. Time: Allow 30 minutes minimum.