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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Detroit, Michigan

Belle Isle, officially Belle Isle Park, is a 982-acre island park in the Detroit River, between the United States mainland and Canada. Owned by the City of Detroit, it is managed as a state park by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources through a 30-year lease initiated in 2013. Belle Isle is the largest city-owned island park in the United States and is the third largest island in the Detroit River after Grosse Ile and Fighting Island. It is connected to mainland Detroit by the MacArthur Bridge.

The island is home to the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Belle Isle Nature Zoo, the Detroit Yacht Club on an adjacent island, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, a Coast Guard station, a municipal golf course and numerous monuments. The island includes a half-mile (800 m) swimming beach

Belle Isle Conservatory

The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (commonly and locally known as the Belle Isle Conservatory) is a greenhouse and botanical garden which opened in 1904. Located three miles (4.8 km) east of the city's downtown, on Belle Isle, it covers 13 acres (5.3 ha).

The Belle Isle Conservatory was built in 1904, designed by noted architect Albert Kahn, and rebuilt 1952-1954 with aluminum replacing its original wooden beams. In 1953 it was named in honor of Anna Scripps Whitcomb, who left her 600-plant orchid collection to the city. Thanks to her gift and subsequent donations, the conservatory is now home to one of the largest municipally-owned orchid collections in the United States. Rare orchids were saved from Great Britain during the World War II bombing and transported to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. Due to a lack of maintenance and budget cuts in recent years, the vast majority of orchids have now died.

The conservatory site contains formal perennial gardens, annual flower beds, a rose garden, and lily pond garden. The conservatory itself covers more than an acre, features an imposing central dome 85 feet (26 m) high (with a total volume of 100,601 cubic feet), and is organized as a palm house in the dome, the north and south wings, and a show house. The south wing contains tropical plants of economic importance such as bananas, oranges, coffee, sugar cane, and orchids. The north wing hosts the extensive collections of ferns, cacti and succulents. The show house, remodeled 1980-1981, features a continuous display of blooming plants.

Thursday, 15 September 2016