There is nothing like walking into a glasshouse on a wet and gray wintery day in the Pacific NW. It’s a shame that there aren’t more conservatories, even if they are difficult to keep up and care for no matter where they are in the world, since they can be such a joy to behold.
This Sinningia welcomed us when we entered into the Seymour Botanical Conservatory located in Tacoma, WA, but it was truly the whole setting that really drew us in to admire the place’s charms. There were amateur photographers in a wide variety of positions attempting to capture the best close-ups possible. There were so many flowers everywhere that it was full of a kind of plant energy that only a conservatory can give off. It’s intoxicating whether or not you’re an asthmatic like me. (Yes, this is true and a drawback to my love of greenhouses in general.)
The sculpture is one of several staged throughout the structure. They were made by the former conservator Clarence Deming. These add such a great deal to the feeling at the location. Otherwise, without them, the conservatory could somehow be seen simply as a collection of large, overgrown houseplants. The little sculptures throughout add some context, and even perspective.
The Seymour Conservatory is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. And as far as I know, it is one of only a handful of historic public conservatories on the West Coast. Built in 1907, the entire structure holds about 3,500 panes of glass, and the collection there currently contains about 550 plant species. In addition, the floral display in the image above is part of their ongoing program to always have a blooming display year-round.