Garden Visit: Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens

Garden Visit: Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens

Kimber Watson
Feb 12, 2014

A few weeks ago (with advice from Houzz), I delved into things you can do now to help ready your garden for spring. And of course, one thing you can do is gather inspiration for your 2014 gardening plans! It's only fair that I heed my own advice, so I decided to take a short bike ride to our local conservatory — a great way to spend some time escaping from the cold weather.

Originally named the Druid Hill Conservatory, it was established in 1888 and has grown from the original Palm House and Orchid Room to include three greenhouses, two display pavilions, and outdoor gardens. A major renovation began in 2002 and included a Mediterranean House, a Tropical House and a Desert House. The conservatory finally reopened to the public in 2004, when it was officially renamed The Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory. But it is (and will probably always be) affectionally called the Baltimore Conservatory by locals.

Back in 1874, when the idea for a conservatory was given the green light by the city, a committee was formed to help design and plan the new structure. One of the committee members traveled to Europe to visit the famous Kew Gardens of London, which was the model for the new design. And an interesting fact to note: The Conservatory is the second-oldest steel framed-and-glass building still in use in the United States today (and the last remaining conservatory of the four that were built in Baltimore in the 19th century).