Monday, November 29, 2010
There's nothing more otherworldly than visiting a conservatory during the height of winter.
We walked in Seattle's Volunteer Park and after we'd had our fill of the chill and damp and freezing slush, we visited the Conservatory. Built in 1912, it has four separate climate chambers for growing display plants.
When you enter the greenhouse, you come into the hottest of the rooms - where palms, tropical plants and orchids thrive in a hot, humid sweat.
To the right, a more temperate greenhouse shelters coleus, tender perennials, and - this year's exhibit - fancy Chinese chrysanthemums.
This one looks as though it's made of fine curls of paper.
Beyond this room, a dry and sere room of cactus and desert succulents feels like an oven.
If you cross back through to the center, you pass into a moist yet cooler room for temperate rain forest plants, hardy begonias and cycads.
Beyond, the last room holds bromiliads, staghorn ferns, and other epiphytes.
A selection of carnivorous plants are displayed by the vestibule.
Don't fall in.
The way out takes you past the pretty prom-dance orchids once again.
Isn't this a great way to beat the winter chill?