The Botanic Garden is basically a large city park. There's a Rose Garden, except that Rose Gardens look pretty pathetic in early April. Much more interesting are the two Victorian greenhouses in the park. Here's the thing about them: The park itself opens about 8 AM, and the signs on the greenhouses claim that they don't open until 10. But they don't appear to be locked, so even if it is about 9ish, you really can just go right in. The first one is the Palm House:
Which is worth seeing just on its own, for that classic Victorian birdcage structure. Inside, it's all warm and humid, and there are in fact, lots of palm trees:
But there are other interesting things to see, too. There's some nice statuary to be found if you poke around a bit, and a couple of really lovely wrought-iron chairs in one of the side rooms:
The other greenhouse is the Tropical Ravine. It's less impressive from the outside than the Palm House is:
But inside, it is . . . a Tropical Ravine. Exactly as promised.
It's bigger than you'd expect, and it's like being at a plant zoo. You walk around the edge, and stare down into this . . . well, ravine, filled with large exotic plants and vines and ferns, and koi ponds, and stuff trails around, and it smells all green and damp and alive. I never thought I'd enjoy greenhouses so much, and I can definitely see why people like these ones in particular. Imagine being some Victorian child growing up in dank old Belfast at the polluted height of the Industrial Revolution. These places must have seemed like another planet, and, if you were very lucky and had the right kind of nanny . . . you could just go there, and be in a whole nother world.
Alas, I had to leave that whole nother world right after the conference. But not too alas. My next stop was Cork, home of Dot! But that is for another post.