Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oh, no! It's the Return of the Cone Heads!

It's a sure sign that spring is on the way in Seattle when you begin to see these in the garden.
These pink cones are ornamental winter cabbages that are nearing the end of their life cycle and are getting ready to flower. These bolting Brassicas will keep getting taller and pointier until either the gardener pulls them out and replaces them with something else or they go to seed.

In the past, I didn't like the cone heads very much, but I'm beginning to now. Maybe it's because this particular planting looks pretty good. Or maybe it's because they match the color of my rain coat.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Volunteer Park Conservatory Needs Your Help

The Volunteer Park Conservatory is 100 years old this year. Modeled after the famous Crystal Palace in London, this Victorian glasshouse is home for plants collected from all over the world. The Conservatory has five "rooms," representing different environments, each maintained at different temperature and humidity conditions. In them, you can see plants collected from various climates in an astonishing array of color and diversity.

The Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle was built in 1912.

Unfortunately, age and budget cuts are taking their toll on this elegant beauty. Significant repairs are needed and the money is just not there. As a recent article in The Seattle Times explains, the conservatory may close at the end of this year unless funding can be found to support its operation and restore the physical structure. 

Here's one of many colorful specimens in the Bromeliad House.
What can you do? First, visit the Conservatory and drop a generous donation into the collection box just inside the door. There is no admission charge at the Conservatory; donations are encouraged, but not required. This means that most people visit for free. If you are one of those people, it's time to pay up. Second, consider getting involved with the Friends of the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a non-profit organization that raises funds and sponsors education programs at the facility.

If you've never visited this unique facility, here are a few examples from the Conservatory's collections.
The orchid collection, located in the Palm House, began with a donation
from Seattle pioneer Anna Clise in 1922.

The warm, dry Cactus House is just the place to go to get away from
winter's chill. It is home to a jade tree (not shown)
 that was started from a cutting in 1916.

The Fern House contains many ferns, as you might expect, along with a wide
array of tropical plants. Here foliage is every bit as striking as flowers.