Where does a person who has spent most of her life on the coast go when the long, bone chilling days of winter descend upon the prairies? For me, there was only one place to soothe my winter ravaged psyche and that was the Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo. Temperatures at 30 below coupled with blowing snow, no problem! I would park myself on a bench beneath the banana tree, close my eyes and breathe deeply the intoxicating humid, perfumed air and imagine myself outdoors in a tropical paradise. It was there I discovered a way to cope with the radical changes in my lifestyle and begin my love affair with horticulture, although I did not know it at the time. I have since acquired formal training in the art and still love going to the Conservatory. There have been many changes over the years and it now boasts a patina of permanence, a full-blown, mature beauty that I still find engaging, no matter how many times I visit. The Conservatory is divided into two separate sections, The Garden of Life which contains only tropical species and The Butterfly Garden which during the winter becomes a bona fide Holiday Display. Knowing the seasonal plants would be featured I decided to visit and share some of the highlights with my readers. So, take a stroll through the Conservatory with me and remember, turn your face to the sun, breathe deeply, relax, and be grateful that we live in a world where such beauty exists. Happy Holidays my friends, I wish you joy in all your endeavors. Look for a few surprises that I captured and although this is a horticultural blog, I could not bring myself NOT to include.