Tropical plants in Rhode Island, part 2

by Caroline Brown

More pictures from my last visit to Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. To the right, in the background, is my favorite plant that I saw there (at least so far–there’s probably always something different in bloom and I’ll probably change my mind several times over the course of the year).

This is the purple glory tree, Tibouchina granulosa, a small tree or rangy shrub that grows to 10-15 feet tall. It’s native to parts of Brazil and Bolivia, but grows freely in Hawaii and the warmer zones of California and Florida. It can be cultivated indoors under the right circumstances. There are a lot of them at the Botanical Center, all planted in large above- ground planters–giving me hope that one day I myself might be able to grow one, despite living in New England. This particular species isn’t considered invasive but other species of Tibouchina are, especially in Hawaii.

I don’t know what all the other plants are (yet)…don’t the pink-blossomed, jack in the pulpit -looking things in the foreground look like anthuriums?

The last two photos are to give you a better idea of what the BC looks like inside. Above is what staffers call the Moongate. The pots in the foreground are some sort of lavender or rosemary, can’t remember which off the top of my head.

Below you see the succulent and cactus garden. Most of these plants are very old. Unlike most of the other plants (which were bought from wholesalers in California and Florida), the succulents and cacti were rescued from two greenhouses in the Park, where they had been growing for many years. Check out the size of the agave on the right, that’s no spring chicken!

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3 Comments to “Tropical plants in Rhode Island, part 2”

  1. Greetings from Blithewold in Bristol, RI! Thanks for the tour – I haven’t made it to the new BC yet but looks like a must-do. I hope to lure you also to Blithewold – our greenhouse tropicals are outside now and we don’t have a huge collection but just maybe you’ll see something new! Plus our gardens are pretty-pretty and you’re so close by… See you soon?

  2. After looking at your pictures, I was inspired to pay a second visit to the Roger Williams Park botanical center. I had last seen it when it was first opened. I was very sorry to see that some of the plants are now dying. And I was saddened to see that a large, dead, palm-like plant had fallen over and crushed a number of the older plants in the succulent section, including the once-beautiful large crassula which I had admired. I know the state has budget problems, but it does no good to spend a lot of money on a new greenhouse, and then not maintain it. I hope they attend to it soon.

  3. Hi Elle. That’s terrible! I hope it’s something that they are planning to attend to pretty soon. I’m not sure where the $$ comes from–it might be the city of Prov, not the state.

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