Explore the Conservatory

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Our Gardens

The H.P. Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens features a diverse range of environments.

These historic structures provide the ideal setting for plants from tropical, desert, and Mediterranean regions, creating immersive spaces that transport visitors to different corners of the world.

Looking up in the Palm House on a clear day

The Palm House

The Palm House allows the visitor to return to the ornate architecture of the Victorian era. Victorians had a passion for engineering, exploration, and collecting.

These pursuits led to the construction of great iron, glass, and wooden buildings to showcase plants collected from worldwide expeditions.

Although most Victorian parlors included plants, most homes could not accommodate larger species. Thus, public conservatories became popular for exhibiting palms and other large plants that require a tropical environment.

The Tropical House

Our greenhouse showcases a diverse collection of tropical flora, including species native to Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia, and tropical islands.

This amazing variety of plant life requires abundant rain, high humidity, and consistently warm temperatures. Tropical plants receive 12 hours of light per day and direct, intensely hot light from the sun.

The year-round growing seasons encourage very tall trees with dense canopies that greatly limit the sunlight available to the plants below. To survive, the plants underneath have adapted in various ways. Some grow very large leaves to capture as much available light as possible.

The Tropical House with plants lit from below making for a dramatic contrast of green and shadows
Various cacti, some growing tall toward the ceiling in the Desert House

The Desert House

The Desert greenhouse showcases plants that can endure the harsh, windy, and arid conditions of the desert where daytime temperatures can climb as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit and fall as low as 10 degrees at night.

With little or no rainfall—often 10 inches or less a year—true deserts have plant coverage of 10 percent or less. Desert plants must make special adaptations to survive.

Desert plants include annuals such as wildflowers that sprout when it rains; century plants that only grow when it rains; water-storing succulents such as cacti and sansevieria; and small shrubs such as yuccas, Joshua trees, and creosote.

The Mediterranean House

The mild Mediterranean greenhouse replicates the dry summers and foggy winters of the Mediterranean basin and southern California.

This climate results from westerly winds blowing inland from the sea. In the summer, when the land is warmer than the water, the moisture in the air immediately evaporates, creating a warm, dry season.

In winter, when the water is warmer than the land, a mild temperature results. Mediterranean plants, such as rosemary, bay trees, and geraniums have been introduced worldwide.

Close up of a pot of red paper flowers in the Mediterranean House
The Orchid Room in late afternoon

The Orchid Room

Part of the original 1888 structures and directly adjacent to the Palm House, the Orchid Room features specimens from the largest of all the plant groups. One in 10 of the earth’s plant species is an orchid. There are  over 30,000 species of orchids and more than 100,000 registered hybrids.

The orchids on display are selected to showcase a representative range of varieties and are usually displayed only during their blooming period.

The Outdoor Gardens

Nestled between a row of showy Crape Myrtles and a Boxwood hedge, the Outdoor Gardens provide a lovely place to sit and enjoy the sounds of nature any time of year. The Outdoor Gardens feature over 2 dozen planting beds hosting perennials, annuals, and roses.

Here, you will find our multi-faceted sundial, crafted by Peter Hamilton of Guilford and the Waltersville Granite Company, and presented to the City of Baltimore around 1890.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, seeking a peaceful spot for picnicking, or want to host a special event, our Outdoor Gardens offer an inviting backdrop for various activities. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, enjoy the harmonious blend of history, nature, and tranquility they offer.

Outdoor Gardens with roses and crape myrtles

Rent Our Gardens

The H.P. Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens is considered one of Baltimore's premier settings. Showcasing plants from all over the world, this venue offers year-round greenery and an intimate, magical feel for any event.

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