Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Bromeliads and ferns in the Volunteer Park Conservatory—Part Two of Conservatory Week

After my speaking duties at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in Seattle wrapped up, I took off to visit the Volunteer Park Conservatory on Capitol Hill. Like the Gaiser Conservatory I wrote about on Monday, I once lived just a few blocks away, and spent a lot of time here.

Unlike the Gaiser Conservatory (which is free to visit), it now costs $4 to visit the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Not a lot, but money was tight in my 20's and that would have kept me from visiting as often as I did. Back then admission was free and I was there at least once a month.

I started my visit in the fern and bromeliad houses, admiring this ginormous staghorn fern as I entered.

But also stopping to appreciate this smaller plant seemingly attached right to the window glass.

A pyrrosia! Labeled as Pyrrosia linqua.

Don't you love a cramscaped conservatory?

The sign on the cycad gives info about sago palms.

One of my very favorite things, when a plant grows on another plant, here a fern on the sago trunk.

Bromeliad in space!

So many different plant textures in one photo.

I didn't see a label for the nepenthes, but the plant was quite large.

More carnivorous plants...

Darlingtonia californica

Sarracenia, and I love the Ficus pumila covered walls.

Most of the tables all had a mulch of low growing cryptanthus and the like...

Of course tillandsia are growing everywhere.

You're probably detecting a theme here as far as names are concerned. I didn't see many tags and I don't trust my bromeliad (or fern) ID skills.

Seriously IN LOVE with the cryptanthus.

A tag! The dark leaves belong to Billbergia 'Muriel Waterman', who's Muriel? (*update: thanks to Gerhard I now know and love Muriel! Read this)

The plant in the corner with the orange "blooms" is Medinilla scortechinii.

"This versatile little shrub has a low spreading growth, reaching a height of 1' to 2'. It can be grown as either a semi-terrestrial or a epiphytic shrub. It features dark green, leathery leaves and when it flowers it displays bright orange stalks and panicles which are reminiscent of tropical coral branches. Can be grown as a small shrub or a potted plant." (source)

Wowsa! Love their Deuterocohnia lorentziana...

Orthophytum 'Copper Penny'

Here I'm shooting through the windows of the conservatory spying on what's being grown in the glasshouses not accessible to the public. I see jungle cactus...

A lot of jungle cactus!

One final plant to droll over today, Ceratostema rauhii...

It's an epiphyte from the cloud forests of Peru, and it's in the blueberry family! (source) I sat on that bench for a bit, with the staghorn tickling my hair, contemplating all that I'd seen—before continuing on to the desert side of things. Yes both ends of the plant spectrum, from ferns and bromeliads to the desert... all my favorites are housed here under one roof! To the desert we'll go on Friday...

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Muriel Waterman was a pioneering bromeliad collector and grower in New Zealand, and from all accounts a charmingly eccentric one. Here's a bit more info:

    I love the cram-packed jungle of plants. My blood pressure went down a few points just by looking at your photos!

    1. Thanks for the link, I did a quick search before posting but didn't find anything quite that fabulous!

  2. It has been SO long since my last visit to the conservatory at volunteer park. A lot of changes to Broadway avenue and the capitol hill neighborhood, closure of small movie theaters and lack of parking... I had no idea they now charge admission. Assuming most of Covid is in the rear view mirror, I should definitely plan a visit soon. The desert plants section has been my favorite so I am looking forward to part two of your visit.

    1. You should definitely plan a visit! After I left the conservatory I walked through the park, by my old apt on 12th Ave and down to Broadway. So many changes! I then walked by my other Capitol Hill apt on E. Thomas and worked my way back downtown to our hotel. It was interesting to see how that area has grown (or not). I lived there for almost 10 years...

  3. I don't think there's a conservancy I've ever seen, in person or virtually, that I haven't loved and this one's a beauty. I'm trying to get my head around the idea of "Cryptanthus mulch." Despite my warmer climate, I doubt I could pull that off but I'm tempted to try.

    1. I'll look forward to seeing your attempts and cheering you on!

  4. If you want one of those Medinillas, check with Ritter's next time you are in Spokane. We have some available. It's very easy to grow and actually enjoys summer outside here.

  5. Very cool place. Looking at the many gorgeous tillandsias and wishing I could offer mine the same level of humidity.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!