[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]ucked away in the heart of Westmount Park lies an oasis you may not have heard of.  The gleam of its lime-washed glass walls, protecting the plants inside from the sun’s rays, makes the Westmount Flower Conservatory a charming crystal palace just waiting to be explored. Squeezed between two heritage buildings—the Westmount Public Library and Victoria Hall community centre—the conservatory sits proud, an architectural gem that transports you to the novelty of the 19th century British greenhouse era.

westmount conservatorywestmount conservatoryBuilt in 1927 by American greenhouse manufacturer Lord & Burnham, the Westmount conservatory was designed to visually link the other two buildings. Originally, this Westmount landmark featured the main conservatory, also known as the Palm Court: a white cascade design, home to lavish palm trees and other plants organically grown for the city’s parks, schools and events. Adjacent to this magical space, a smaller greenhouse was built, housing a tiled fish pond framed by frogs on each of its four corners.

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Today, this green haven is maintained by 3 full time gardeners and many volunteers. A tropical wing is home to orchids, birds of paradise, banana trees, coffee plants and a lovely green olive tree. Over the last 88 years, the building has seen many changes, including the addition of a glorious front vestibule & more greenhouse space. The fish pond welcomed its newest member in 1994, a bronze fountain angel that replaced the previous 60 pound cement statue that mysteriously went missing one day in broad daylight. And in 2004, in desperate need of a facelift and serious restructuring, the deteriorating greenhouse was restored by architectural firm Beaupré & Michaud for $1.5 million.  An architectural challenge and an impressive feat, the conservatory’s glass roof was replaced in its entirety, among many other improvements.

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3The Westmount Flower Conservatory is a little piece of exotic heaven. Open year-round, its a secret escape from Montreal’s coldest months and a lovely alternative to café hang outs every now and again. Stepping inside the sparkling dome, you’ll find benches and pretty cast-iron garden furniture. Swing by the Westmount Public Library for a new literary find, and spend a few hours getting lost here. Open until 9 pm Monday to Friday, rumour has it this spot is something else when the sun goes down.


The Westmount Flower Conservatory is located at 4624 Sherbrooke Ouest. Open Monday to Friday from 10-9 pm and Saturday & Sunday from 10-5pm. Free admission. 

 

 

Photos by Melanie Guilbault.