Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Volunteer Park Conservatory, final edition

We’ve previously visited the desert wing and the bromeliad wing at Seattle’s Volunteer Park Conservatory. Now it’s time to wrap things up with the rest of the building.

For some official background info I visited their website: “the Conservatory, a Victorian greenhouse modeled on London's Crystal Palace, stands at the north end of Volunteer Park, designed by the Olmsted brothers, in Seattle's north Capitol Hill neighborhood. Professional horticulturists with the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation care for the Conservatory's collections, including bromeliads, palms, ferns, cacti, and seasonal display plants. As a registered US Fish and Wildlife repository for confiscated plants, the Conservatory also acquires, quarantines, and later displays restricted orchids, cycads, and other plants seized by USFW agents.” Aha! So if I had purchased that Schefflera taiwaniana in Vancouver, BC and got it confiscated at the border crossing maybe I could have later visited it here at the Conservatory!

Since we visited way back in October things were looking a little fall-like in the seasonal display area.
I am always amazed when plants end up behind bars.
Their collection of Brugmansia was putting on quite the floral show.
I’m happy to see plain old Sansevieria finally getting a little time in the spotlight.
Golden Birdsnest Sansevieria (Sansevieria trifaciata ‘Golden Hahnii’)
Who isn’t fascinated by Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes), these were labeled as Nepenthes carunculata.
Another irresistibly freaky flower…Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia).
As you wander through the building you are surrounded by so much lush fabulous foliage…
Alocasia odora.
Rattlesnake Plant (Calathea lancifolia) from Brazil. Doesn’t it look like someone painted leaves on the leaves?
Dioon spinulosum.

Back outside we decided to take advantage of the bright sunny day and climb to the top of the Observation Tower, this is what it looked like in 1909.
And this is what it looks like today, things have grown a bit!
The view from the top out toward Puget Sound and the Space Needle.
And downtown Seattle.
Volunteer Park is a gem. Having lived in an apartment a block away I spent many a sunny afternoon in the park. Funny thing, I never realized it was an Olmstead Park until this visit when we stopped to read the signs inside the tower. One of them was a quote from the Olmsteads: “the different parks of the city should not be made to look…like each other…but on the contrary every advantage should be taken…to give each one a distinct individuality of its own”

Volunteer Park is also home to the old Seattle Art Museum, a beautiful deco building. But that’s a subject for a different blog.


  1. great pics as usual! I think all your readers appreciate living vicariously through your plant related traveling.

    In the second pic, I'm just mesmerized by that color combo. Do you know what plant that is growing out from under the coleus, with the pale green leaves?

  2. Beautiful tour of these fabulous plants. Such interesting textures and colors on the foliage. That rattlesnake plant looks fake doesn't it? Man oh man those brugs were putting on a show. Thanks, I needed this today as it hasn't gotten out of the 30's here in North Florida today...

  3. I really love old Victorian style greenhouses - when I'm in London I like toi go to Kew if possible - some great plant pictures here especially the pitcher plants.

  4. It's cold and gray today, so thank you for that delightfully humid and warm virtual tour! Those brugmansias were worth seeing. I could see from the outside that they were in full bloom when I visited the NY Botanical Garden in October, but sadly, the Conservatory was closed to visitors (sigh.)
    So nice to know this Conservatory is achievably close!

  5. I think what I like most about this tour was the blue Seattle sky. I so miss a WARM blue sky. Getting snow up there?

  6. Thanks for the tour. The Brugmansia's are luscious, and I love that Rattlesnake plant.

  7. Fabulous use of banners by the art museum (of course I would notice that). Have you any close-up photos of them?
    The tour of the glass house was a real treat, inside and out.

  8. Your photos are fabulous !!

  9. Nice...I always enjoy a trip of there whenever we're in Seattle! I have always been fascinated by carnivorous plants...not only are they bizarre, but so beautiful. My Nerd partner is making me go up to the Sci-Fi museum later this month for the Battlestar Gallactica exhibit, maybe I can convince him to go to the Convservatory too :-)

  10. Ryan, ah yes...I believe this may be Phlebodium pseudoaureum or Blue Fern. I bought a couple at the Fall HPSO sale, and they seem to have died in the end of Nov cold spell. I still have hope that maybe they'll make a come back.

    Darla, I was wishing I could be back in the warm cozy space as I uploaded the pictures.

    A Year, someday I hope to visit Kew!

    MulchMaid, "closed" is the story of all my visits/attempts to get into the SF Conservatory. So sad!

    Grace, no snow...plenty of ice!

    Les, aren't they (Brugmansia) especially beautiful when you can actually stand under them? Sadly mine have never gotten that tall.

    ricki, no close-ups...I'll see if my original photo was of high enough resolution that I can zoom in.

    Thanks Delphine! And thanks too for the coverage on your blog yesterday.

    scott, sci-fi and plant lust...you two are an interesting pair!


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