on April 29, 2013
I debated as to whether or not to start a new entry here at IgoUgo since most everyone in Milwaukee and perhaps all of Wisconsin better knows this Milwaukee County Parks jewel as "The Domes" and not the more formal name "Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory". I opted to go with what's already here, however, when I saw that the Milwaukee County Parks list it more formally (http://county.milwaukee.gov/MitchellParkConserva10116.htm).The Domes is billed at Milwaukee's "living landmark" and is the oldest park in the Milwaukee County Park System. Our parks are nationally renowned and as a resident, I'm proud to know just how committed our primarily urban community is to the parks and recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.Land was purchased for this park in 1889, with the original glass house style conservatory opening to the public in 1899. Today's "dome" structures were built after the demolition of the former structure in 1959. The Domes are a landmark on the Milwaukee landscape and provide a unique educational experience for those who otherwise might not venture beyond Wisconsin or the Upper Midwest of the United States.Two of the three conoidal-shaped greenhouses are permanent exhibits with the third being used for seasonal "show" exhibits. I strolled the two main exhibits . . . the Tropical Dome and the Desert (Arid) Dome . . . taking about 15-20 minutes in each. Being a Monday morning, there were a lot of school aged children participating in field trips. The small groups of kids each had what appeared to be a checklist in the form of a scavenger hunt format to help them seek out various plants. It was fun watching the discover something new on the many signs throughout the exhibits. The literature provided at the main entrance states that many of the plants found here are rare and in some cases endangered.About the Show Dome's "Blue Bayou" exhibit . . . many consider it your typical community garden providing many varieties of plants and flowers that could be found in any city in the United States or perhaps the world. The Blue Bayou exhibit depicts the charm of a southern garden, what you might expect to see in New Orleans. While the flowers were colorful and beautiful, I must admit, my allergies were in overdrive within minutes inside the dome. I took the pathway through the exhibit, snapped a couple of photos and made my quick escape before my respiration was overwhelmed.The Domes are open year-round; Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday & Sunday 9a to 4pm. There is an admission fee of $6.50 with discounts available for children, seniors and Milwaukee County residents including "FREE" on Mondays for folks arriving 9am to 12pm.There is a small gift shop that sells dish gardens, a number of books on horticulture and other gift type items. There is no snack bar or food/beverage service available but given the expected short time needed to tour, bring a picnic basket and enjoy lunch out on the park grounds.For more information, including updates on the Show Dome exhibit, check out the "Friends of the Domes" website: http://www.milwaukeedomes.org/ or the Milwaukee County Parks' site (link provided above).
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