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Visitor FAQs

Visitor FAQs


Non-alcoholic drinks and snacks are allowed inside the conservatory and on our grounds. Alcohol, grills and open flames are not allowed.  Don’t forget to carry in and carry out everything you bring when you visit.

The Botanical Gardens is open year-round and offers a large indoor conservatory with surrounding grounds. It is accessible and offers plenty of free parking. To get a list of special hours and closings, please take a look at our hours section of the website.

Visitors are welcome and encouraged to take photos of the plants, take selfies with their phones, and capture casual and impromptu moments at the Botanical Gardens. Tripods and stands are not permitted. All posed photography and/or videography require a reservation through our events department (e-tickets/admission tickets are not considered a reservation). For more information and to make your reservation please, please contact us at or visit our film and photo shoots page.

The koi are fed daily by our dedicated staff. For the safety of our animals, please do not pet or touch our Koi.

Visitors can get up close and personal with our family of koi fish with a unique Gardens Exclusive program called Feed the Fish on select Saturdays. This program allows early access to the Botanical Gardens before we open to the public with a special learning experience that’s fun for all ages. Each participant receives a cup of koi fish food and time to help feed our fishy friends.

Feed the Fish

At this time we are only able to accept rare and unusual plants. If you believe your plant fits that description, please send a photo of the plant, its common and/or Latin name along with any other pertinent information via email to –

The Botanical Gardens is coated with a protective liquid shade to help control the temperatures inside the conservatory for both the plants and the visitors.

The Botanical Gardens is made up of 12+ acres of indoor and outdoor gardens, an arboretum, and a historic conservatory.

Upon opening in 1900, the conservatory was the third largest public greenhouse in the United States and was ranked as the ninth largest in the world.

The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens were created from the visions of extraordinary people. David F. Day, Frederick Law Olmsted, John F. Cowell, Frederick A. Lord and William A. Burnham of Lord & Burnham Co.. Each of these talented individuals contributed to the inception, design and success of the South Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Frederick Law Olmsted was called upon by the Buffalo Parks Commission in 1868 to design parks for Buffalo. His unique design included not one but three parks, The Park (Delaware Park), The Parade (Martin Luther King Jr. Park), The Front Park, connecting parkways and circles. As Buffalo expanded, Olmsted was called upon to enlarge the park system by adding additional parks including Cazenovia Park and South Park. South Park was constructed between the years of 1894-1900 from 156 acres of farmland.

While South Park was being constructed, Lord & Burnham Co. was busy designing the South Park Conservatory. The design was modeled after glass conservatories in England and was built by a Buffalo construction company, George P. Wurtz & Son for a total cost of $130,000. 

In 1894, Professor John F. Cowell was appointed as the first Director of the conservatory and to oversee plantings in South Park. He was considered a genius in botany and horticulture and his passion was deeply rooted in his mission to expand and diversify the soon to be park and conservatory’s collections. He gathered plants, trees and flowers from every corner of the world and his expertise and guidance allowed for many successful years for the conservatory.


In 1981, Erie County purchased the conservatory and 11.4 surrounding acres within South Park from the City of Buffalo for $1. This called for a name change, thus creating the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. In 1982 the Botanical Gardens was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the New York State Register of Historic Places.

On August 16, 2004, the Society and Erie County formed a public/private partnership that would ensure the growth and long-term viability of the Botanical Gardens. Today, the Society takes full responsibility for day-to-day management and horticultural functions while the county contributes to capital improvements. That same year, the Society’s Board of Directors hired a professional staff to oversee operations, horticulture, marketing and educational programs.

We care for approximately 43,800 plants throughout the year. Our permanent, year-round collection includes 5,400 plants from around the globe. Seasonal plants include 38,000 annuals and exhibit plants as well as over 400 food-producing plants that directly benefit our community.

We classify our collections into two areas – Core Living Collections and Special Living Collections. We work to enhance and diversify our Core and Special Living Collections on a continual basis to create beautiful exhibits, enhance our storytelling, foster educational opportunities to engage visitors and connect people with plants and the natural world.

In 2005 an admission fee was charged to the public for the first time to help the Society become self-sustaining.

The Palm Dome is the largest greenhouse in the Botanical Gardens. The Dome is made up of 3,300 panes of glass and is 67 feet high at its tallest point. Under the Dome, you’ll find palms and tropical plants from all over the world.

The Botanical Gardens consists of 12 indoor greenhouses that are interconnectedWhen you visit the Botanical Gardens you will embark on a self-guided tour throughout the greenhouses, each displaying a different exhibit and collection of plants.

Yes! The Gift Shop is open daily from 10am-4pm and can be accessed without paying admission.

One of the numerous benefits of membership to the Botanical Gardens is the use of one-time guest pass(es) which are connected to your account digitally. To redeem a guest pass, present your membership card at admissions and let our staff know that you would like to use one of your guest passes. If you have any membership questions please contact

Currently, there is no café at the Botanical GardensHowever, we have plans to build one in the future.  Look for lots of updated amenities in late 2026.

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