The Muttart Conservatory: a botanical paradise
The Muttart Conservatory houses one of the largest botanical collections in Canada with over 22,000 square feet of indoor gardens. Built in 1976 using a $1 million donation from the Gladys and Merrill Muttart foundation, the Muttart Conservatory celebrated its 40th anniversary this September with a dedicated showcase of plants and orchids in its feature pyramid. The province of Alberta and the city of Edmonton provided the remaining half of the construction funding, and the Muttart is now run by the Edmonton parks and recreation department, offering a tranquil space for residents and visitors to connect with nature and art through all seasons.
The Muttart is at the forefront of community engagement with over 100,000 visitors per year coming to enjoy the colour, warmth and beauty of the plants. Kids camps run through the summer and both kids and adults can engage in classes in art, horticulture and our relationship with the natural world. These explorations of global climates and plants’ adaptations to them are augmented by the daily tours provided by knowledgeable interpreters. This sharing of knowledge and the love of plants creates a strong bond between the Muttart and its visitors and volunteers.
The Muttart’s contribution to Albertan horticulture extends beyond its public programs to encompass ongoing plant research, including serving as a test site for the Alberta perennial trials and the annual demonstration beds, which are used to test how perennials and annuals perform in our Alberta climate. Perhaps more importantly, the sheer number and diversity of species in the botanical collection puts the Muttart Conservatory at the forefront of plant science in western Canada. Staff search the globe for rare and unusual specimens – including the corpse flower (amorphophallus titanum) which was the first of its kind to bloom in western Canada in 2013 (the plant was nicknamed Putrella after its horrendous odour).
The four glass pyramids that comprise the Muttart Conservatory create an iconic landmark within Edmonton’s River Valley park, and are known as architect Peter Hemingway’s signature work. Three of the pyramids contain distinct biomes: temperate, tropical, and arid. The
Staff search the globe for unusual specimens and have amassed a diverse collection of botanical species at the Muttart.