Franklin Park Conservatory

Butterfly on red flower

Usually spring is a magical time at the Franklin Park Conservatory. I like to imagine that, even though we are unable to visit right now, it still is. 

The Conservatory, already bursting with beautiful flora, comes alive each spring as butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. They are released by the hundreds in the colorful Pacific Island Water Garden. The event starts in the spring and runs through mid summer. This year’s event would have been March 14 through July 5. With the Conservatory closed through at least May 31, the future of this year’s exhibition is up in the air (pun intended).

A visit to the Conservatory is a special treat at any time. During the colder months, touring the indoor garden rooms, with environments ranging from desert through rainforest, is a welcome break from a sometimes too long Ohio winter.

The permanent Chihuly collection is a favorite. Visitors can watch local artists create blown-glass art during most of the year. As the weather warms, the property and outdoor gardens come alive with garden exhibitions, wetlands, art installments, and play areas. I’ll be sure to stop back for a visit to do a full review, but today let’s focus on the butterflies.

This little guy gave us a sideways glance as we passed through the desert biome on our way to see the butterflies.

Blooms & Butterflies, as the exhibition is called, debuted at the Conservatory in 1994. Visitors walk among hundreds of butterflies and are able to attend special programs. A resident expert shares education information and releases select butterfly species daily. 

Butterflies Emerge

On our last visit, we made short work of most of the garden rooms, making a bee line for the butterflies. On the way there we were able to see a number of different types of chrysalises, behind glass of course. We stopped to watch the slow emergence of the butterflies. They hung there, slowly fanning their wings, preparing to take on the world. 

Butterflies in chrysalises hang from the ceiling.

Pacific Islands Water Garden

Upon entry to the Water Garden, we were taken in by the site of so many butterflies. They were everywhere, flying overhead and resting on flowers. My girls found if they held very still for a few minutes, eventually a butterfly would light on their shoulder.

Entering the Water Garden reminds me why this room is easily my favorite at the Conservatory. In addition to the butterflies, it’s home to a tropical koi pond and most of the Chihuly pieces from the permanent collection. 

Brick paths guide you though the lush plant life and rushing water falls, and just for a moment you feel transported to the islands. If you prefer to sit instead of wander, there are a number of park benches along the path.

Brick path through a green jungle
The Pacific Islands Water Garden feels like a walk on a tropical island.

Though most of our visits over the years were through the week, we never found the space to be overly busy or crowded. It’s always been an oasis through the end of the winter months or an escape from a rainy and gray Ohio spring. 

The world has changed for us these last few months. It will change again. Though it might not change back to exactly what it was before, we will emerge from our chrysalis and slowly stretch our wings. 

When you emerge in this promised tomorrow, add the Franklin Park Conservatory to your plans. If the butterfly exhibition is still going on it is well worth the visit. 

If quarantine stretches beyond the boundaries of Blooms & Butterflies, carve out some time in late summer or early fall for a visit. The outside gardens will still be open and you can make a day of it. Beyond that, I always enjoy a visit during the holidays. Seeing the poinsettia display in the two-story Palm House is one of my favorite holiday traditions. And during Conservatory Aglow, the outdoor gardens are filled with a colorful lightshow.

Before you go, visit the Conservatory’s website at  Franklin Park Conservatory. You’ll find all the information you need to plan your visit, including pricing and upcoming events. 

One thought on “Franklin Park Conservatory

Comments are closed.