Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part Three, The Palm House

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Walking from the Cactus House, back through the Seasonal Display House, you arrive where I originally entered at the middle of the building. It is the Palm House and you can see it through the door below. You know, the lovely one framed by the pair of Ficus.
At the actual entrance to the building, you will find a variegated Ficus on one side of the front door, and surprise! surprise!—at the other side too.
The ferns that drape beneath the plants really act as such an amazing barrier but I have to admit that it is very difficult to achieve this kind of look in a home. The humidity necessary can be seen if you look closely at the windows. I struggle and toil with my poor ferns here at home and so often I really wonder why I bother. I think it has something to do with the fact I simply love plants.
I do not know a lot about the Strelitzia (commonly known as the Bird of Paradise flower) except to say that their leaves are really interesting to look at from down below. I know some folks like to grow them as houseplants, but it’s one of those plants that just never seems happy indoors.
This does not look like your average houseplant version though.
Oh, and did I mention the orchids? In true Victorian fashion, they have those too. What makes them even more wonderful is that they are displayed like art. Isn’t if funny how these odd plants fascinate us so much?
The Conservatory’s orchid collection was started in 1921when they were given to the garden by Ms. Anna H. Clise. Staff appear to keep the collection going in the greenhouses behind the conservatory. Only the best ones are put on display. (I am so jealous we don’t have something like this in Portland!)
These always remind me of ribbons on little gift boxes.
Mounted up high on the wall is the true trophy: a Staghorn or Elkhorn Fern. Although these are ferns, they are truly epiphytic. This is a magnificent example of how amazing their form is when they are cared for properly.
The whole Palm House is truly very palm filled and lush.
This last picture is of a really great groundcovering palm relative I’ve never heard of: Palm Grass aka Curculigo capitulata. It reminded me so much of my Panama Hat Palm but after close examination they are very different!

Two more stops to make before I wrap this up! I simply enjoy this place far too much to rush this visit.

Houseplants

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Houseplants have not always been my forté. Throughout my childhood, though, I always had one cactus in my room. No wait, scratch that, let me restate that, I had a very long procession of look-alike cacti much like Snowball the cat on the Simpsons. In reality, every cacti I ever owned was an Old Man Cactus, but I should say I always had Old MEN Cacti. After one died, I always replaced it with another. I think when I discovered boys and sports though, the cactus in my room just disappeared altogether.

When I was 25 or 26 I assembled a cactus for the dining table in my condo. Since the table was surrounded by windows on two sides, the plants did very well. Then I met the man I married, and we moved out into what is now our old rental house. The cacti grew, and moved out of their terra cotta planter into other planters. Some struggled and died, others were simply forgotten and neglected, and one, a large Opuntia, is still with me today.

That cactus is in the back of this large plant pile that I have assembled in our old sun room. With the folding plant stands, I purchased the light, and I have to say that the addition of artificial light has saved so many plants from seeing that final compost heap in the sky.

So the moral of this story? Just make sure that your houseplants always have the light that they need in order to succeed in life.