Seattles Conservatory- A Delight for the Senses In Winter

Finding a way to get your gardening urges met in the Northwest anytime before February is an act of pure dedication. It’s usually just too wet and cold. With cold being purely relative to what those experience in other parts of the country, our version of cold does have its opportune moments. But, the bottom line is, that until the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, we find our “needs” fulfilled through seed catalogs, and rushing out during the odd break in the weather to go do some winter pruning or quick clean up chores.

This New Years week however, I was determined to get a dose of warmth, greenery and inspiration long before February, bulbs, seeds and the first of the winter blooming plants. I decided that a pilgrimage to the deeply in order. And, WOW was I happy I did it. This 100 year old glass conservatory is a precious gem in the Emerald City. The photographs I came away with from this trip are enough to satisfy my urges for quite some time!

Upon entering the elegant, antique glass house, the temperature hits you like a brick. There is a small entry area, where it seems, most people start to strip down immediately to enjoy life without 5 layers for a while.

Then the first thing you see are the Orchids. Utterly spectacular displays behind wire cages, safe from sticky fingers who might try to make off with souvenirs.

The house that shows off the tallest plants is green and lush with a dense jungle feeling. Then you can go left or right to venture into the other sections of this giant glass house. It was a bit odd though, I always felt like someone was watching me. 😉

To the right is the Seasonal House, changing out seasonally to showcase the latest and greatest. The Holiday displays were still up this week, showing off the lovely poinsettia and foliage combos.

Beyond the Seasonal House is the Arid or Desert House with the spectacular cacti, succulents and sedum that may be ubiquitous in many parts of the country, but here, they are a rare treat.

Sinningia Leuchatricha

Heading back the other direction, you feel like you should be hearing tropical birds and monkeys swinging about as you enter the Tropical House. The pictures in the grid at the top of this post gives you a small taste of what the colors were like. Such a unique thing to see on a cold gray day!

Beyond the tropicals were the Cycad House. A very architectural group of plants fill this lush house with foliage colors and textures.

After I got my fill of the heat and humidity of the Conservatory, I came outside to a fairly sunny day. DOUBLE bonus! Here are some shots I took on my way to the car and a few I pulled over to take on my way home.

I hope you enjoyed my day at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. I certainly got my fix- for a little while. 🙂

An IMPORTANT update on this post from January 2012:

End of the road for Volunteer Park Conservatory?

Please read further to see how YOU can help via the Links below!

12 thoughts on “Seattles Conservatory- A Delight for the Senses In Winter

  1. I’ve been sitting here chilled to the bone (I know, I’m in California and the sun has been shining all day…but still…I’m COLD) and thanks to your beautiful photos I’m a few degrees warmer! Thanks for the tour!

  2. That orchid is to die for! No need of five layers right now in my neck of the woods, but its been overcast all week with no indication a change is coming anytime soon. Rain? Fine. Sun? Fine. Misty, cloudy, dismal? Not so much. So if I can’t get a blue sky, I’ll take a gorgeous blue flower any day!

  3. Christina: I could almost hear Tarzan bellowing in the vines above. Great tour, great bit of word painting and soopah doopah images. That blue orchid is otherworldly. Gotta get over to this blog more often. Feel free to bump me at Twitter if you don’t see me lurking here often enough.


  4. How fun to see all that color in the middle of the winter, and to take a deep breath and inhale the moist green-ness… I love the old glass house conservatories. The pavonia (second down, far left) was one of my greenhouse’s casualties). Thanks for sharing the visit with us.

  5. Thanks for reminding me about this place – visited it in the mid-1990’s on a Seattle vacation and hope to see it again some day.

    It’s odd how tiny details stick in your mind…the plant I remember was a display of Salpiglossis sinuata in jewel-like colors.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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