Winter is particularly cruel here in the Midwest for weeks on end and finding escapes to warm your he

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art and lift your mood can be difficult. Just traveling can be a burden when the roads are often snow and ice covered, not to mention the layers of clothing you have to endure to fend off the bitter winds. Any escape in a warm, relaxing environment is a godsend. And the Cleveland Botanical Garden is just the place.

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Each February, the Cleveland Botanical Garden is host to Orchid Mania, an exhibit of thousands of blooming orchid plants throughout the halls and green houses. The vibrant colors are stunningly vivid amongst the greenery. The sauna-like feel of the

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greenhouse is a welcome reprieve, allowing visitors to check their coats and enjoy hours walking about the bright, colorful displays in a single layer of clothing. What a joy in and of itself!

Accompanying the gardens and greenhouse are art displays, a children’s learning center, gift shop, café and a variety of classes available throughout the year. A spring and summer trip to the gardens also provides vast outdoor enjoyment amongst the many flowers, while the winter allows for a brisk walk through the

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dormant shrubs and trees around University Circle’s park. There is also a bit of wildlife within the gardens, both indoors and out, as birds and turtles live within the greenhouse and butterflies are released indoors each afternoon. Visiting a botanical garden is a gift any time of the year but especially in winter when many of us see so little sunshine and color.

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Orchid Mania is a delight for those of us who enjoy our own orchid collections as well as for the non-green thumb who likes to dream in wonder amidst these amazing stunners. While orchids were once only maintained by the elite with far deeper pockets than my own, modern science has made breeding hardier, easier to maintain plants a reality and rapid multiplication of these blooms has made them ever so affordable for everyone. Today you can purchase of variety of orchids in home and grocery stores. Maintaining orchids requires less maintenance than you might think and the beautiful, long term blooms they provide will brighten any living area.

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I was lucky enough to add two less common varieties to my own orchid collection via the Cleveland Botanical Garden Orchid sale, as a birthday gift from Mr. LucyLoves. While a bit pricier than orchids I would have purchased for myself, the proceeds benefit the ongoing success of the gardens. My sister and I have already planned a return trip to take part in an upcoming silk painting that will allow us to enjoy another day in the warm, gorgeous surroundings of this special event. Another summer-like reprieve to look forward to.

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Anyone who lives within a couple hours drive of a major city is likely to have a botanical garden or public greenhouse at their disposal and a visit is well worth the trip. Especially for

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those who live in darker, colder climates who go months without exposure to regular sunlight or colorful outdoor views, a public botanical garden is a real treat. As pleasant as a day at the spa and as lively as a walk in the park.

If you have the opportunity, check out a botanical garden or greenhouse near you. You likely won’t be disappointed and you may be inspired to perk up your own indoor or outdoor greenery.

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As always, live a beautiful life.

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