Feeling a bit under the weather or in need of a tropical escape, without a hit to your bank account? Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor offers free admission year round and will certainly not disappoint.
The Gardens, located on Dixboro Rd. just miles north of Eastern Michigan’s main campus, have the warmth you’ve been craving. Owned and operated by the University of Michigan, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens offer a wide variety of environments open to the public year-round. With both indoor and outdoor gardens, Matthaei Botanical Gardens are made up of an indoor conservatory, unique local artwork, visitor center and café, campus farm, and outdoor trails and biking paths.
Most impressive, especially this time of year, is the Garden’s indoor conservatory. The conservatory contains plants and flowers from three different climates found around the world. Each zone is brimming with an impressive amount of plant diversity and species at risk of extinction.
The building itself is similar to a giant greenhouse, with a ceiling of windows that allows in the warmth of the sun without the harsh winter temperatures. The structure is quite impressive. Opened in 1964, the Gardens are believed to be housed by the largest free-standing greenhouse constructed before an era of high-tech computers and climate control systems. The overall temperature of the conservatory, though variable depending on the time of day and position of the sun, is delightfully warm. The abundance of plant life creates an almost tropical feel and crispness in the air.
As you move from one climate zone to the next, a shift in temperature and air is noticeable and makes for a realistic outdoor environment. The “Tropical House” is the first zone to greet visitors upon entrance. The plants in this climate are more than a century old, the oldest having been acquired in 1910.
The “Temperate House” is next in line and houses plants from warm-temperate climates often found in the Asian countries. Last in the series of climate zones is the “Arid House” containing frost-free dessert plants, with a slightly less tropical feel.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to study, instagram-worthy photo spot, or just a place to breathe and de-stress, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens is the place to go. Don't forget, it has free admittance all year round.