Back in my 20's I spent many a rainy day tucked in here, enjoying the warmth and plants unlike any around me outside.
That's a nice stapelia! Looking beyond, to the glasshouse behind the conservatory...
I see the words "Sharon Priebe Education Wing". Curious, I searched for info but all I could find was that in pre-COVID times plant sales and plant swaps were held there. Something I'll be keeping an eye out for on future visits.
Ah, such a beauty...
Agave parryi var. huachucensis, I believe.
Wow! A huge crested Euphorbia lactea. I'd love to know how old this monster is.
I think this cool spider-mum impersonator is Senecio scaposus.
Kumara plicatilis, formerly Aloe plicatilis
Playing with the light...
Such a perfect desert vignette, in Seattle...
I neglected to take a shot of the building from out front, so this image taken from inside the east wing will have to suffice; "Designed in the Victorian style made popular by glass buildings like the Crystal Palace in London, the conservatory was built from a pre-fabricated kit purchased from the Hitchings Company of New York, and erected by Parks staff for a total cost of less than $20,000." (sometime in 1911-12)
"The Volunteer Park Conservatory is one of just three historic glasshouses on the West Coast. The other two are the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma's Wright Park and the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park." (source) Of course this tidbit has me wondering why the Gaiser Conservatory isn't included in that short list, it must not be old enough? Not fancy enough? Spokane isn't "West Coast"?
Mammillaria elongata 'Irish Red'
"One little-known fact is that the conservatory is a registered repository for illegally imported plants, including orchids, cacti, and cycads, seized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. When such plants are received from USFW agents, they are quarantined for 30 days. After that they remain in the conservatory collection and cannot be sold, although they may be traded to other botanical institutions or used in propagation." (source)
So that agave pup the US Customs agents confiscated from me at the Toronto airport (which was a pup from one of my plants in Portland, used as part of a decorative hairpiece) might be somewhere in the conservatory collection? Ha! What are the chances? Slim I am sure.
Another look at the silver spikes of Senecio scaposus, and with that we're back at the beginning of the arid house...
As I wrap up this week's look at the two conservatories I've been lucky to live so close to, I thought it worth asking; what is it about conservatories that elicit such strong opinions, my own included. Back in 2010 on a post I wrote: "I have somewhat mixed feelings about conservatories. Done well they can inspire and transport you to far away, mysterious lands. Done poorly they seem like a zoo for plants (specimens behind bars and pathetically ripped from their natural environments), or worse." On that same post a friend commented: "I've never been a big fan of conservatories (plants should be outside, free!)"
What do you think?
I stand by my remarks above, and I think that the idea that plants belong outside is one that fails to consider location in the equation. People living in places that have long cold winters benefit from having a place to go that fills them with the wonder only plants or garden can bring. Plus the magic of walking into a glasshouse and being transported to a far away land, to me that's priceless. Exposure to plants you wouldn't otherwise be able to see, what a valuable experience.
Which brings me to news I am thrilled to share. Portland has been without a conservatory, the only city in my triad of Pacific Northwest homes to not have a glasshouse filled with plants. Thankfully however, that's going to change! I snapped this screen shot during a recent Hardy Plant Society of Oregon ZOOM program "Connecting to our Natural World: Portland Botanical Gardens" with Sean Hogan and Kate Bodin"...
That's a sketch of what the conservatory at the Portland Botanic Gardens might look like. I am thrilled, positively thrilled. There are a couple of sites being considered for the gardens, and lots of info is available on their gorgeous website: here and Instagram here. While I don't think this glasshouse will be within walking distance of my home, I will still be there all the time! Go Portland Botanic Gardens!
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