One of my favorite spots from the 9+ years I lived in Seattle is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Though it’s a smaller conservatory, VPC has five display houses, and a collection ranging from ferns, to bromeliads, palms, cacti and more. The building, a beautiful Victorian era glass house, was built in 1912, and contains over 3,400 panes of glass.
Always a favorite, the cactus house always seems like total magic, since Seattle weather isn’t exactly cacti friendly. Stepping into this room immediately transports you to the desert, even on a cloudy day.
The Palm House, with it’s extra high ceilings, contains some of the largest specimens in the conservatory’s collection. The Anthurium veitchii is kind of a current plant obsession- aren’t those wrinkly leaves so good?
The colorful and lush Fern House has a great range of plants with fancy foliage, as well as an impressive little carnivorous garden with patternful pitcher plants like the one above, cobra lillies, and venus fly traps.
It might be the wrong word to use, but if you’re lucky, you may even get to take in a Corpse Flower. Sadly (or maybe luckily?), it wasn’t in bloom quite yet so we didn’t get to experience it’s signature stench on this visit.
Once you’ve explored the conservatory (which will probably only take an hour or so), checking out the rest of Volunteer Park is definitely worth the time. There’s even a museum- the Seattle Asian Art Museum– on the grounds, a historic water tower you can climb to the top of for a great view of Seattle, and if you’re there in the late summer/early fall, be sure to stop by the Dahlia garden.
After wandering the park, make one more plantastic stop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood- at Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Their ginger beer is fantastic- with a rotating menu of seasonal flavors (the caramelized pineapple is seriously bomb)- plus they offer ginger beer based cocktails and even floats with soft serve ice cream. Possibly just as good as the ginger beer though, are the living plant installations. A chandelier, made of living Monsteras and Philodendrons? Mind. Blown. (And now I’m craving a ginger beer float, or just a trip back to Seattle).
Have you been on your own field trip lately? Where do you head when you need a big dose of inspiration (or plants)?
All photos by Danae Horst.