We are fortunate to have multiple conservatories in the Botanic Gardens, filled with fantastic collections of plants.
Cuningham House (originally called Winter Gardens) was built in 1923 and opened on 9 August 1924, funded by a bequest made to the Botanic Gardens by Mr C.A.C. Cuningham, a Christchurch law clerk, on his death in 1915.
It is a large, stately structure of architectural importance and is listed with the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. A spacious staircase leads to a large peripheral gallery where an extensive collection of tropical plants are displayed.
Both upper and lower Cuningham House contain fine collections of sub tropical plants including Dieffenbachia, Peperomia, Hoya, Anthurium and Dracaena.
The original Townend House was purchased and transferred from the grand Christchurch residence of 'Holly Lea' with funds from the estate of Annie Townend, a wealthy Christchurch heiress, who also owned Mona Vale. The present Townend House was erected in 1955 to 1956 on the site of the former house of the same name.
Townend House is essentially a flowering conservatory where a regular succession of popular greenhouse plants are grown. These include Calceolaria, Cyclamen, Begonias, Impatiens and Primula.
Garrick House was named after Mr M. Garrick who donated a large collection of cacti and succulents to the Gardens in the late 1950s.
It contains the most extensive publicly owned collection of cacti and succulents in New Zealand and also includes a diorama painted by Gordon Gee, the sign and label writer for the Botanic Gardens from 1956 to 1974. The diorama depicts a desert scene representing from South Africa to South America.
Built in the 1960s, Gilpin House is a modest sized conservatory featuring tropical collections of Orchids, Tillandsias, Bromeliads and carnivorous plants.
The Fern House or Fernery was constructed in 1955 as a result of bequests from Mary Rothney Orr and James Foster.
A narrow meandering path winds through collections of New Zealand ferns, the most significant of these being a New Zealand icon the silver fern (Cyathea dealbata). Beneath the path a gentle stream moves through the house creating a perfect environment for moisture-loving ferns such as Asplenium and Blechnum.
Foweraker House was named for Jean Foweraker, a Christchurch alpine plant enthusiast and donor of many collections of alpine plants to the Gardens.
The displays of both indigenous and exotic alpine plants frequently change as do the seasons, flowers and foliage. In addition there is a permanent display of slow-growing conifers that create a neutral looking environment in which the alpine plants can be appreciated.