Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part One, The Seasonal Display House

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There is no denying that I had a wonderful time this past week up in Seattle. I could go on and on about all the reasons it was so wonderful, but I’d rather now right now. As wonderful as the whole experience was, it was not the kind of vacation that allowed me to rest and I am seriously paying heavily for that right now with my health. If it hadn’t been the fling, it would have been something else, so I am not complaining.
I did the drive back to Portland solo and this allowed me to see some other gardens before I left town. This may seem like a strange idea, but in this case, I’d planned to visit places I usually frequent. I just didn’t want to visit them with anyone who was paying attention to time.
The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a favorite place of mine to visit. Like the other two historic Victorian glasshouses open to the public on the West Coast, no matter what time of year you’re there visiting, it is always amazing. First considered in 1893, the main building was not completed until 1912. Inside there are five main houses: Bromelaid, Palm, Fern, Seasonal Display and Cactus. I am doing each separately so you can see all the pretty pictures.

The first house you actually enter into from the front door is the Palm House. This is a beautiful view from the Seasonal Display House looking back at it. During this trip I kind of rushed into this room first because a seniors group of Japanese-Americans came in for a walk and I wanted to be sure to give them enough space to get around me.

This house had a lot of annuals mixed in with sturdy perennials. The foundation plantings really consist of this large Yucca and a Sansevieria Collection.

The Yucca gigante is very impressive and while the group of senior citizens walked through the room one of the women remarked to a nurse, “Wow, that’s really old. Old like us!” The younger woman could then be heard giggling as the group walked off together. I thought it was kind of funny too.

Low at the bottom you can see a really nice Sansevieria with a lot of white stripes. I guess it’s a Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’. Time to put that on my fall/winter plant shopping list.

 
It’s an understatement to say that these groupings are impressive. They are overwhelmingly breathtaking and I felt honored to spend some quiet time with them as though we were attending plant church together.

So before I overwhelm you, I will leave you a taste for what beacons as you reach the Cactus House.

Awe! Those menacingly attractive little guys look a lot like buddies to me. Don’t you think so too?

Volunteer Park Conservatory

Wow! An Early Spring? Let’s Get Moving!!!

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This past week I purchased a few more houseplants to add to the other 100 or so. I wanted some foliage shock for some of the pictures I post with my vintage planters I sell online in my Etsy store. I think these two are perfect for that job. Don’t you? No one has asked me yet what they are, but I am sure someone will eventually. I am happy to promote houseplants in my store since so many people seem to be rediscovering what fun they can be!
Fittonia argyroneura ‘Red Vein’.
Begonia rex












Last fall when I attended one of the African Violet Society plant sales I bought some leaves too. The first time I bought some, I felt rather silly just purchasing a leaf in a baggie, but now that I have seen how easily they can take root and grow, I feel far less goofy about it. (They do take some time to grow though. This is about 3 or 4 months old.) I plugged in a light with a timer in the basement the the heater has kept them warm all winter. Doing this in a windowsill might not have been as successful in a 100-year-old house.
African Violet ‘Emerald Love’.
Episcia ‘La Soledad Bronze’.

Here is one of the terrarium plants I purchased last fall too. I used a large apple juice glass jug since it seems really difficult to find a big terrarium anywhere that can withstand an accident. With the foster kids running around I needed for it to be as safe as possible. This is an affordable terrarium too. I like it when I can show the kids things they can do with plants that don’t cost a lot.

Begonia partita.
Outside the garden is beginning to grow. I am afraid that if I don’t pay attention right now though, my house will be overrun. Last year I never got around to pruning what needed to be pruned and by the time I did, it was too late to do so. This year, I am going to get on it quickly, nipping it in the bud, so that our house will not be eaten. Since I plan to have more parties this summer, and I’d like to watch some movies out back, I will prune responsibly. Oh, how I cannot wait for warm summer nights!
Dianthus amurensis ‘Siberian Blues’.

This is my precious evergreen Himalayan maidenhair fern. They are difficult to find because they can only be reproduced through division. In zone 8 the make an amazing evergreen ground cover. I cannot wait for the plants I have to spread more.

Adiantum venustum.

A buttercup relative, this springtime harlot will be bursting forth with some waxy yellow blooms soon. After it blooms, all of the plant dies back until next spring but it is really quite shocking while it is up.

Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’.

Oh, what would I do without my Hellebores! They cheer everyone up at this time of the year.

Helleborus with Sword Fern Volunteer.
Helleborus.

This is the absolute best Sedum I have ever found for shade. It is great for covering up bulb foliage too as it dies back just so long as it is not Narcissus foliage.

Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’.
Helleborus.
Yellow Helleborus.

Maurice the Cat says it all. Currently we have three cats in crisis. They think it is spring because of all of the sunshine we’ve had, and yet the cold outside is telling them otherwise. Having three cats nipping at your heels to go outside with them—like dogs!!—sounds strange, but so it is at this time of the year during a year like this. I am glad that I have them around to nudge me out though since I still am not feeling great.

Red-twigged alpine maple with Camellia ‘Yuletide’ bloom, Maurice the Cat in ecstasy believing spring is springing, and a great clump of Aspidistra.