Roath Park Conservatory: a tropical microcosm where nature can flourish

Roath Park Conservatory is an indoor rainforest where the wardens reject using chemical additives on the plants, instead allowing them to grow freely.

A whistling duck by the pond at Roath Park Conservatory
The Conservatory is also home to white-faced whistling ducks, native to areas of Sub-saharan Africa and South America.

Roath Park Conservatory takes a unique approach to plant conservation: no chemical sprays are used to control or maintain growth of its plants.

Situated near Roath Park’s Lake Road East entrance, the Conservatory features a range of tropical plants, grown together around the snaking paths that lead around the central pond.

A terrapin in Roath Park Conservatory pond.
Twelve terrapins live in the pond, alongside koi and goldfish. Visitors can observe them basking in the humid temperatures of the Conservatory.

The pond itself is home to koi fish, terrapins, goldfish, and the most endearing of the Conservatory’s residents, the whistling duck. Visitors to the conservatory often include young children and their guardians, as well as groups of schoolchildren learning about the natural world.

Tillandsia cyanea, also known as the ‘Blue Flowering Torch’ plant, grows here alongside others. The plant is native to Ecuador and Peru.

With around 30,000 people visiting the conservatory annually, the wardens must strike a balance between preserving the Conservatory’s fragile ecology and offering as natural a rainforest experience as possible.

The plants require regular maintenance such as the cutting of dead or overgrown leaves and branches, as demonstrated here by warden Andy.

“We don’t use chemical sprays here”, explained warden Dave Jones. “Every plant is named, but only once, as we let things grow where they seed. Our ethos is to create an internal rainforest that is as naturalistic as possible.”