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Seattle's Volunteer Park Conservatory An At-home Vacation in a Day

Updated on May 20, 2013

The Glass Conservatory Building at Volunteer Park Holds Living Treasures

Exploring the local sights of the Emerald City of Seattle brings its own delights when Seattleites opt for a vacation in your own locale.

With a city this rich in natural splendor, residents and visitors never tire of finding enchanting sights to explore.

Recently, Volunteer Park's Conservatory provided me with an afternoon's nurturing entertainment and I've included my favorite photographs from the day.

Within six months after a $2,000,000 bond was passed in 1910 the glass building was ready for installation of 3,426 panes of glass. Thanks to the work of the Parks Department and the Friends of the Conservatory, it remains in operation today.

For a $4 fee visitors can enjoy a trip down the exotic lanes of the building. Plants and groupings change with the season so it always offers some new perspectives.

My photograph shows the central section of the long-armed building, typical of the Victorian style of glass houses. Careful preservation and restoration work awaits completion, with the eastern wing within a couple years.

Frequently groups and couples rent the facility for weddings and other grand celebrations that call for a splendid environment you just don't find in your own backyard, or in a sterile hall or hotel room. Visit Friends of the Conservatory to gather information about scheduling a visit or event.

All Photographs copyrighted 2013 by Leslie Sinclair


no use permitted!

Trumpet Flowers - brugmansia

This was my first sight of this remarkable flowering plant.

Trumpet flowers are priceless. I didn't even know they existed. As a thank you gift I had once bought a plant-like brass lamp for my mother. The shade was pink, in the same shape as the trumpet blossom. I had thought the glassblower was just creating a fantasy.

Information on trumpet flowers.

There's Many Faces to the City of Seattle

Have you been to Seattle's Volunteer Park Conservatory? If so, how did you like it?

Yes, I've been there and each time I leave I wonder why I let so much time pass between visits!!

Yes, I've been there and each time I leave I wonder why I let so much time pass between visits!!

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    • RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Yes, many years ago and I loved it!

    • Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I did go there once and it was a beautiful park. So lush and gorgeous!

    • Vicki Green 4 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I love the conservatory - such a beautiful building and lovely flowers inside.

    Oh no, it's really just a bunch of flowers and green things, to my mind.

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      • Pat Goltz 3 years ago

        Actually, I've never been there, and I'd love to go! No option for that, so I choose "no".

      Glasshouses You May Want for Your Own Beautiful Plants

      Conservatory Style: Garden Rooms, Glasshouses, and Sunrooms
      Conservatory Style: Garden Rooms, Glasshouses, and Sunrooms

      Sample enchanging glasshouses from exotic and innovative contemporary settings.


      A Visit to the Conservatory Brightens a Cloudy Day

      A Visit to the Conservatory Brightens a Cloudy Day
      A Visit to the Conservatory Brightens a Cloudy Day

      Plants - Like The Ocean

      "I'm an ocean,

      because I'm really deep.

      If you search

      deep enough

      you can find

      rare exotic treasures."

      Christina Aguilera

      Plants Are Exotic Like the Ocean

      Looking Down At The Croton Plant

      Isn't this about the most powerful plant - with it's powerful leaves sporting strongly contrasting veins!

      Mature leave show a deep winey red with a dark purplish green veining, and they provide a splendid backdrop for the young sprout-green fresh leaves, with yellow veins.

      I like the way the green and yellow play a game with the negative space, the yellow outlining veins becoming the background color at the tips of the young leaves.

      Read About Crotons

      The Lacy Tree Philodendron - philodendron bipinnatifidum

      Here I came face to face with a lacy tree philodendrum. I was mesmerized, walking back and forth to take it in from all angles.

      It was so completely unexpected and dramatic! The light colored curved triangle shaped spaces are the shapes that grabbed my attention.

      I found this plant in a humid conservatory but it grows outdoors along the American Southeast Shore and the Gulf Coastline. That's natural, since it's a South American native plant - it also grows in tropical Asian countries.

      Lacy Tree

      The Spadix Carries Its Own Visual Weight - it's really a leaf, cradling the spadix with tiny flowers

      The lacy tree philodendron is really a showpiece. I like it's drama, including the bloom, which is really a protective leaf, in bright flaming red.

      Research shows that the amazing spadix consists of male blossoms on the end third, and male sterile blossoms in the center, with female blossoms near the inside end of the spadix. The center section really controls the show.

      Those neutral blossoms generate heat that helps the fertile female blossoms nectar to waft a distance in the breeze to attract the Cyclocephala beetle that's responsible for fertilizing the plant. It's an amazing marriage of insect and plant that propagates the species.


      Lush Fuschia Colored Orchid Mass

      This multiflora orchid would take up half my desktop or plant stand, which is really a tall baker's rack.

      On the cloudy day I took these photographs, turning to see the orchids was a breath-stopping moment and you can see why. They are nearly translucent near the tips of the stems, the most vibrant colors in the building.

      Do You Know The Name of This Orchid?

      Is this a Vanda orchid?

      Yes, and the complete name is......

      Yes, and the complete name is......

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        No comments yet.

        Oh, it's actually a ................. instead

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          • Pat Goltz 3 years ago

            I'd say it's a Dendrobium. Notice the tubular long center portion.

          Coleus So Gorgeous I Could Eat Them - Lamiaceae

          A rich healthy coleus grows beautifully in a moist sheltered greenhouse.

          The Flame Nettle plant is one of my favorites, but all of the variegated design leafy plants are sights for sore eyes. They are restful and fascinating focal points to a shady garden.

          In the Conservatory they are grouped with high contrast plants with sharply different leaf colors and shapes.

          Flame Nettles

          Turban Shaped Red Hanging Flowers - Malvaviscus arboreus

          Called the Turk's Cap, surely this is a form of the hibiscus. It has a gorgeous rich red and yellow color with an exotic look.

          To me, it looks like a priceless brocade has been woven and shaped like puffy inflated petals. It's not only beautiful - it can be boiled down to make a tasty jelly, or into tea. It taste a bit like apple, some say it's flavored like watermelon.

          Turk's Cap

          Refreshing Sights of Groupings of Leafed Plants

          Rusty red winy crotons front fluffy red leaves and feathery new green ferns, for a visual escort along the path.

          Yellow Volvo Parked at the Door

          Luckily there was an open spot for my car at the entrance to the Conservatory. This is one of my 24-year old car's field trips before I retired it for a new white car that's just calling out for a yellow paint job.

          As a schoolchild I had once enjoyed the charming building full of gorgeous plants on a field trip. Of course the bus trip was half the fun, but I remember feeling a little like I had an otherworldly experience - very different from my small town cottage home with its country garden.

          My Fake Plants

          "My fake plants

          died because

          I did not


          to water them."

          Mitch Hedberg

          Fake Plants

          My View As I Left The Conservatory

          Leaving the building brought me face to face with an enthralling view. The park was in full Autumn Glow as it celebrated the close of its Centennial Year.

          Green and Gold Across the Lane

          Volunteer Park is a magnificent public space in the midst of Seattle's densely populated and very active Capitol Hill.

          This huge expanse of lawn provides ready picnic and frisbee throwing space year round.

          Easily Find Seattle's Volunteer Park Conservatory

          A markerPerfect for a stacation afternoon -
          1400 East Galer Street Seattle, WA 98112
          get directions

          Here's The Camera I Used To Take These Photos

          Pentax Q 12.4 MP CMOS Sensor Kit with 8.5mm 1.9 AL [IF] Prime Lens(White)
          Pentax Q 12.4 MP CMOS Sensor Kit with 8.5mm 1.9 AL [IF] Prime Lens(White)

          Mine's black, but only because they were out of white cameras that day.

          The best thing about this camera is that it can be used in fully manual or automatic mode, and it's ready in a jiffy.

          Pentax 85226 Q Vintage Leather Case (Brown)
          Pentax 85226 Q Vintage Leather Case (Brown)

          This case is simple to wear, and simpler to open. The front unsnaps and stays attached at the bottom, for easy access, and fast protection.


          What Do You Think About Victorian Glass Houses? About Exotic Plants? What Plants Are On Your Mind Right Now?

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            • PNWtravels profile image

              Vicki Green 4 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

              Great photos of the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Added as a featured lens to my best things to do in Seattle lens.

            • mrdata profile image

              mrdata 4 years ago

              Congrats for your LOTD! Amazing flowers in this park! Thanks for your sharing!

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              RinchenChodron 4 years ago

              You take lovely photos! I agree this is a great place for a staycation.

            • Pat Goltz profile image

              Pat Goltz 3 years ago

              We seem to have a lot in common. I love your yellow Volvo, and we both like Pentax. I like the fact you told us the species of some of the plants. Very nice lens!

            • lesliesinclair profile image

              lesliesinclair 3 years ago

              @Pat Goltz: Ah yes, patgoltz, I noticed that too. Wish you could walk around inside the conservatory. It's gorgeous

            • profile image

              TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

              What an amazing place. I love botanical gardens.

            • lesliesinclair profile image

              lesliesinclair 3 years ago

              @TanoCalvenoa: Isn't it charming, with all that glass, like a Victorian conservatory.

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