A Little Poinsettia Magic: Vander Veer Park Style

In advance of Poinsettia Day next week (December 12th), we thought we would share some Poinsettia exhibit pictures from the old Conservatory at Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport.

The Conservatory featured in these images was built in 1897 and torn down in 1954 due to age and structural issues. The current Conservatory at Vander Veer opened in November 1955.

The first winter flower exhibit was in 1901 after an expansion to the Conservatory allowed for more display room. A Chrysanthemum exhibit opened in November and while a Cyclamen exhibit was planned for December according to The Davenport Democrat, November 12, 1901, on page 1.

Poinsettias did not become the focus of the December exhibit until 1934 when over 500 Poinsettia were displayed in the Conservatory for the first time according to The Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 19, 1934, on page 4. Previously the largest number had been 75 Poinsettia displayed in 1933 while other winter flowers, such as Cyclamen, Persian violets, and begonias, were the main exhibit as in years past.

The ability to increase the number of Poinsettia was based on continued improvements to the greenhouses at Vander Veer including better heating and lighting to help the fragile plants thrive. And they certainly did thrive!

We hope you enjoy taking a look back at these amazing exhibits.

Our first image is a hand-painted/retouched photograph in the old Vander Veer Conservatory showing red, white, and pink Poinsettia.

Loretta Clayton Collection – 2003-43. Image B-20.

A water wheel was a central part of the old Conservatory’s exhibits based on photographs in our collection. One can only imagine the number of Poinsettia and other flowers in this Conservatory.

Poinsettia Display – Vol 203 dpl1992-010468.

The photo below is similar to the image above, but this display included a small bridge. Note the Santa image along with the Christmas lights near the glass roof. Christmas lights were also put up outside of the Conservatory.

Poinsettia Display c. 1951 – Vol 204 dpl1992-011015.

A close up of the poinsettia and greens used in the display. The small bridge in the left of the photo connects it to image 011015.

Poinsettia Display c. 1915 – Vol 204 dpl1992 – 011014.

Another close-up image of the different flowers and greens used to create the displays.

Poinsettia Display – Vol 204 dpl1992-011140.

If you enjoyed this glimpse into the past we have wonderful news. Vander Veer Conservatory and Park currently has their magical winter display open to the public.

This festive event is still going strong over one hundred years later with even more beautiful plants and amazing lights to thrill anyone on these dark, cold winter nights.

(posted by Amy D.)

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