MILWAUKEE — You can escape to a polar paradise, minus the chill, with a trip just down I-43 or I-41 to Milwaukee. All it takes is a visit to the Mitchell Park Domes.
This year's holiday exhibit in the show dome is titled 'A Holiday Snow Globe.'
"It can be very cold outside, but it's never cold at the domes," said Doris Maki, Director of Horticultural Services.
That's part of the holiday magic, but Santa's elves aren't responsible for what you see when you step inside.
"We have carpenters, electricians, plumbers —you name it. Everyone comes to help us put on this wonderful show," added Maki.
It took ten days and hundreds of poinsettias to set up the show dome, seven different species, to be exact. And all of them were grown in-house.
The plants arrived this summer, straight from California and it truly became Christmas in July. They were nurtured in the greenhouses behind the domes.
"The whites are called 'Alaska White' so the names are really, really fun," said Maki.
Fun and festive! There's also a variety named 'Flurry', 'Candy Cane', and 'Ice Punch'. Try and spot them all when you visit.
"You know, this last year we saw a 100% increase in admissions," noted Christa Beall Diefenbach, Exec. Director of Friends of the Domes.
But the Friends of the Domes, a non-profit group, says that alone will be not enough to save Milwaukee's horticultural conservatory.
"We know that the concrete is chipping, it needs repair. But it's still stable —we're not talking about months," said Beall Diefenbach. "We have years but we can't keep kicking this down the road either."
It's why the board of directors for the Friends of the Domes recently approved a new strategic funding proposal. She says they want to get a plan on paper within the next six months.
"For the different funding sources to be a reality we really need to have a different partnership model with Friends of the Domes and Milwaukee County Parks, so we're already in conversation with the parks department to look at what that could be."
2024 could bring transformation for the domes, similar to what's in store for the beautiful poinsettias. After this year's holiday show is done, the horticultural team will choose the best plants to preserve, and then, help them continue to grow.
"They turn into this, look at this tree!" said Maki, pointing at a poinsettia tree dotted with bright flowers. "This is what it looks like, potentially after five years or more."