Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

It's Always Summer inside the Seymour Conservatory

I usually visit Seymour Conservatory during the winter months when it's cold outside and a visit to the tropical warmth inside is a mini vacation from the cold.   Late last month, I decided to see what goes on in there when it's equally warm outside.

Outdoor bed of tuberous begonias.  

Shade cloth over the wings of the place are a sure sign that it's summer. 

My begonias struggled with powdery mildew this year.  Even with weekly spraying, most of them eventually looked pretty sad.  It was nice to see so many disease-free specimens.

There are permanent residents of the greenhouse which are joined by seasonally blooming plants brought in from off-site greenhouses. 

The orchid collection was joined by tuberous begonias recently.  

I'm grateful to have such a wonderful place so close to home  (About a five minute walk.) but wish that there was better plant identification.  If you're going to have permanent labels made, why not tell us what agave this is instead of labeling it Century Plant (Agave.)  No one at the conservatory is able to identify it. 

The warmest tropical wing has been severely reduced in size as they're adding restrooms and also additional space for something other than plants.  The thrust seems to be toward using this as an event space.  Public restrooms already exist just down the hill in the park that surrounds the conservatory. Whatever.

Will these be the restrooms or the entrance to the new space?  Construction seems to be going at a glacial pace.  


I was tempted to bring a couple of these home but think that reducing rather than increasing the number of begonias in my garden might help me control the mildew problem better.


Time to head back out.  While there were a lot of beautiful things to see,  for me, the appeal of the conservatory is much greater in the seasons when much less is happening outside garden-wise.


  1. Five minutes away... holy moly - I'd be there all the time!!! Too bad about the expanded scope of "event space". I think a lot of old institutions are struggling with actual monetary support from the waning interest of a plugged-in public. I guess the event space idea is better than losing it altogether. I keep thinking we need some super hot, male rockstar or movie star to become a complete horticulture nut and be loud about it, to turn the tide, and make people interested again. Growing food and pot is a good gateway drug, but we need more than that - some glamour would be nice! (Yes, you may call me crazy - LOL!)
    ~ Anna K

  2. It was interesting to see what's going on here when it isn't all dressed up for the holidays, but I can see your point that it's more fun when it's dark and gloomy in the middle of winter outside. I really should frequent the conservatory more often too, but sometimes I can't even drag myself out of the house to go to the grocery store, and Tacoma seems like a long way through too much traffic.

  3. I'm sure I've said it before but it'd be wonderful to have a place like that just a 5-minute walk away. Even my local botanic garden (a 15-minute drive at best) isn't that well maintained. However, I do appreciate the frustration of seeing plants pushed out for things like event spaces. I'm seeing that happen all over. I try to remind myself that these organizations are trying to keep afloat financially but it's sad that more people don't visit for the plants alone.

  4. I have to agree that it is hard to get excited in summer about glass houses. But that combo of Begonias and Orchids might just do the trick.

  5. I do love that conservatory, and I am not happy to see that they are "invading" it with restrooms and event space. It might be that they see it as a revenue source. I don't know what the financial support for this gem of a place is. You're right, though, it's best when it's cold and dark outside.

  6. How beautiful!
    Wonder of pictures.

  7. What a beautiful conservatory to have so close to home. In winter, I must drive a half an hour to get my tropical fix.

  8. I too love begonias. It would have been difficult to resist the price reduction. All of those beautiful flowers. I think you are brave to go into a conservatory during summer. It is so darned hot anyway. UGH... Of course out by you it might not be so hot. I feel like I am living in a conservatory right now temperature wise.What a treasure having this space so close during winter.

  9. Oh how I wish we had something like this in Portland...

  10. A wonderful retreat for the cold months. Here we have the Garfield Park conservatory.


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.