As you leave the parking lots you enter the visitor center, get your sticker at the kiosk and then you have a choice to walk left to the rose gardens and main house or right to the other art galleries. We chose right since we wanted to see the new Chinese gardens. We were there in late November so while there were flowers it's nothing like what it looks like in the Spring. So if you live anywhere near at this time of year head on out for a beautiful surprise. This is a view of the walkway at the American Art gallery.
Next stop was the Conservatory to see the hot house environments inside. But the grounds are full of surprises including this part of a Camellia plant. Apparently this is what is left after it drops it's petals!
There are different zones in the Conservatory but this is the first one you walk into. It's a very hot and humid area so you are pleased to find more comfortable climates in the other areas as well.
Beautiful orchids are everywhere. When we first walked into the Conservatory we found a staging area with all sorts of orchids. We were even more pleased to see them inside the hot house areas as well.
Naturally my 12 year old son was much more fascinated by the weirdness we found there, like these furry leaves, instead of the beautiful flowers. There is a whole section of carnivorous plants that he was thrilled to see!
There were all types of orchids in almost every room. Apparently the different types grow in all different types of climates. I've decided the tree orchids would be the ones I would want in my garden!
My son delightedly called these Reindeer Antlers. We never did find out the real name but they were a favorite of ours.
If you head out of the side door of the Conservatory you will find the Children's Playground. It looked like it would be fun to explore but with such limited hours this was where we realized you really need two days to see the entire place.
But beauty is everywhere. This is the pathway in front of the offices there. I can only imagine what it looks like when it full bloom!
Of course I found a lion! Chinese lions are fun since they look so friendly from the side and so fierce from the front!
We'll end this part of the tour with the first of the art galleries we entered. The Library West Hall always offers something new to see since this is a Changing Exhibitions gallery. This time they had a bunch of miniature paintings that simply fascinated me. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed in this particular gallery.
Next week I'll share with you the Chinese Gardens. They deserve a post of their very own since they are SO beautiful! See you then!