Monday, June 17, 2024

W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park

As I mentioned in my overview post on June 5th, I was recently up in the Tacoma area for a garden talk and stopped in at the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park
The conservatory at Wright Park came about thanks to a generous gift from William W. Seymour, president of the Tacoma Board of Park Commissioners from 1909 to 1911. According to this source it's one of only three public Victorian-style conservatories on the West Coast. I would assume the other two are the Conservatory at Volunteer Park in Seattle and the Conservatory of Flowers in San FranciscoI was last at the Seymour in 2010, so a few things had changed in the intervening 14 years.

Castor bean plants (Ricinus communis) just to the side of the door into the conservatory.

You know as soon as I walked in and saw that ginormous agave, I wanted to run straight to it, but no. I played it cool and slowly worked my way over there. 

Stopping to admire the hanging plants...

And their blooms (hello hoya some something).

And the Strelitzia nicolai (black bird of paradise)...

And it's striking bloom.

Finally, there you are my pretty!

Its companions included this cute little aloe...

And a handsome Mangave 'Purple People Eater'.

Moving on through the main building to the north wing...

Where the tropical plants seem to all be hanging out.

As I was wandering through this part of the conservatory an older fellow (uncle? grandpa?) and a young girl of about 3 or 4 came in. He was trying his best to get her interested in the plants but all she wanted to do was go back to the car and watch Shrek. Poor guy.

I loved this!

The basket reminded me a little of the root basket of the agaves I adopted last December (here), but I think someone took the time to make this one.

The various vertical plant elements in the conservatory had me smiling. They were all so good.

Perhaps the largest nepenthes I've ever seen...

And the biggest and best of all, the green wall in front of the gift shop.

It's basically a smaller version of the green wall at the Amazon Spheres.

Little baby ferns on a woodwardia.

At the base of the wall you can see the material holding the plants, a couple of empty pockets and the drainage system for the water.

I took a few more photos outside the conservatory, where it was obvious winter hit them hard, just like here in my garden. The bananas were just waking up (Musa basjoo I assume) and a palm shows some signs of damage.

Colorful forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) and autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora).

Despite the small visitor who couldn't be bothered to get excited about the plants, I do think conservatories are so very important to the communities they serve. They provide a place for people to go and see plants from other parts of the world, to become interested in the natural world. I'm sad that we don't have anything like this in Portland. Hopefully that will change with the Portland Botanic Gardens movement.

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  1. That's one beautiful space! I love that they even had a properly designed gift shop inside too.

    1. With a couple of plants that I considered purchasing! That's the best kind of gift shop.

  2. AnonymousJune 18, 2024

    (Not sure why my first comment didn't take).
    Summarizing: I'm absolutely blown away by the "little baby ferns on a woodwardia". I don't suppose I'll ever see it on my own woodwardia, toughing it out in the elements.
    Whatever happened to the adopted (rescued) agaves? My bet is they survived under your tender care.

    1. I too wonder if my woodwardia will ever produce babies. It's a cool thing to see, but it does kind of hide the beauty of the fronds. As for the agaves, update coming soon!

  3. I'm quite taken with the plant with the absurdly long leaves, in the hanging crate on the left side, 19th photo down.


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