‘It’s a dynamic space’: The Leaf prepares to open its doors this holiday season

While temperatures in Winnipeg are firmly into the minus category, one new Assiniboine Park attraction is providing a tropical paradise to visit year-round.

The Leaf is getting ready to open its doors this holiday season at Assiniboine Park. The horticultural attraction features four distinct biomes showcasing a wide variety of plant life from around the globe.

“There’s trees here that have been brought in from far away,” said Gerald Dieleman, Senior Director of Horticulture at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

“(With) 20-foot trees and palms being brought in to Winnipeg from the south, that’s what makes this space so unique and different,” said Dieleman.

The Leaf replaces the old Assiniboine Park Conservatory building, which was demolished in 2018. The new building features a gift shop, coffee bar, restaurant, and rentable banquet and programming spaces.

Dieleman expects it to be a popular spot, especially in the winter months, “This is a unique space, a unique experience in Winnipeg,” he said. “If we look beyond the walls here we see snow outside, and we’re standing in a tropical space. That’s amazing, that’s fantastic.”

“For some people it’s a reminder of home, it’s a reminder of where they came from, for other people its sort of a hint at where they can go, a hint of another place,” he said.

The Hartley and Heather Richardson Tropical Biome includes a 60-foot waterfall, which Dieleman said will enhance the tropical experience.

“It’s just pouring into a tropical pond here. That contributes to the airflow and the humidity of this space, and also gives that feel of a tropical feeling,” he said.

The waterfall feature was designed by Dan Euser, who also created the fountains at the 9/11 Memorial in New York.

The building also has a classroom that can be used for school tours and workshops.

“We take this opportunity to showcase plants from around the world, and then also to have programs and events that are connected to that,” said Dieleman.

He’s excited for Winnipeggers to see The Leaf, “It’s a dynamic space, and maybe we don’t think of plants as dynamic, but they really are, and they’re going to grow over time.”

The Leaf has not set a specific opening date, however the Assiniboine Park Conservancy website says it will open this holiday season.

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