One of the main highlights of our trip to San Diego was a visit to the Botanical Building in Balboa Park. The building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. It was built for the 1915-1916 Exposition and now contains over 2,100 permanent plants. Here is a page on the planning, building and restoration of the house.
We have been to the lath house in Merritt Lake Park in Oakland. It is much smaller and rather boring architecture structure. Nothing really prepares you for Botanical Building in Balboa Park. The design is somewhat similar to glass conservatories but it is all open to the weather. The lath provide shade from the sun and heat in San Diego and the mist system keeps it cool and humid.
The lovely lily pond leads you to the doorway. There are a few interesting potted agaves along the way and large tropical plants such a brugmansia, Calotropis, and stunning Bismarckia nobilis palms. Through the doors the dome soars close to three stories above. The paths are lined with huge specimens that you would normally find in your house and vines twine in the rafters above. There is a carnivorous plant pond for the curious and lots and lots of begonias.
It is a very impressive collection although for serious plantaholics - there were some items missing. We had hoped to see some tropical vireya rhododendrons and Mexican salvias.