While in Edmonton in July we went via an invitation from a friend to Muttart Conservatory. We went, however, not to see the public buildings, but to see the work of the Orchid Species Preservation Foundation. This group works behind the scenes at Muttart, using the Conservatory's facilities, but paying its own way.
The group has a very large and varied collection of mostly orchid species that have been donated by various individuals. These collections are maintained by the group which operates primarily with volunteer help. It uses three areas of Muttart's greenhouses to house a warm, an intermediate and a cool collection.
Masdevallia rimarima var. alba
On the day we visited the group was having a repotting session. If I had been alone I would have enjoyed staying to help, but was with my wife, daughter and baby granddaughter, and did not dare offer. We did have opportunity to see and photograph the collection, however, and enjoyed the time spent there.
All too often when a person for one reason or another is unable to maintain a collection of orchids, the plants die or at best are dispersed. This kind of foundation provides a nice alternative and plants that are duplicated or not needed in the collection are sold to raise funds for the group.
The group will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in October with meetings, special displays in the conservatory, speakers and other events. We hope they do well and wish them the best in their efforts. More such organizations are needed in the world of orchids.
We did go through the Conservatory itself, but were a bit disappointed - the collection of plants, though well maintained and beautifully presented was neither very large nor very unusual. In fact, many of the plants were common annuals or perennials.