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Volunteer Park Conservatory

 
Address: 1400 E. Galer St > directions to Volunteer Park
Conservatory Information: (206) 684-4743

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Special Announcements

Renovations

The East Wing (Seasonal and Cactus Houses) will be closed for reconstruction through December 5, 2014. The Palm, Fern and Bromeliad Houses will remain open through Sunday, September 28.

From September 29 through December 5, 2014 the entire conservatory will be closed for ADA upgrades.

Ticketed Grand Reopening Celebration December 6th, Tickets available on Brown Paper Tickets .

Open to general public beginning Sunday December 7th.

Please check this or the Friends of the Conservatory website  www.volunteerparkconservatory.org for updates.

"EDGAR ALLEN PEW"

Corpse Flower

The specimen was donated to the Conservatory in 2006 from the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse and this is the first time it has bloomed since then. It takes from 7 to 10 years for the plant to make a flower, making this a rare event. And yes, the flower smells like…rotting flesh.

It is a tradition to give the corpse flower a name, and a naming contest resulted in choosing “Edgar Allan Pew”. Edgar is no longer on display.

The Conservatory’s Seasonal House and Cactus House are currently under renovation.


Classes

Please visit seattle.gov/parks/seniors/index.htm for art classes for 55+ in the Conservatory.

Support the Volunteer Park Conservatory!

The Volunteer Park Conservatory in the historic, Olmsted-designed Volunteer Park, is a very special place to the people of Seattle. Whether youre an accomplished horticulturist or you just like looking at flowers, theres something here for you.

Hours

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(Open on non-Monday holidays. Please call to confirm.)

Admission

  • $4 for Adults
  • No fee for children 12 and younger
  • $2 for youth ages 13-17
  • $25 for student groups (ages 13-17) with advance reservations
  • Annual Passes also available
  • Free Admission on First Thursday and First Saturday every month.

Contact Information

(206) 684-4743

Your admission fee helps keep the Conservatory open and operating.

As of February 1, 2013, a $4 fee for adults to enter the Volunteer Park Conservatory helps preserve this 100 year old jewel of Seattles park system.

Following the results of a 2012 study Seattle Parks and Recreation conducted to identify a more financially stable model for operating the Conservatory, the City adopted the $4 adult entry fee.

Other fees are:

  • No fee for children 12 and younger
  • $2 for youth ages 13-17
  • $25 for student groups (ages 13-17) with advance reservations

There is a pay machine at the Conservatorys entry that accepts Visa, MasterCard, $1 bills and change. The machine does not provide change.

2013 revenues from the entry fee, estimated to be $104,000, will help keep the facility open and operating, preserve the Conservatorys heritage and maintain the horticultural collection.

Friends of the Conservatory Friends of the Volunteer Park Conservatory

The Friends of the Conservatory (FOC), a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for the Conservatory, sells memberships starting at $20. The FOC offers docent-led tours ($25 for a group of up to 25 with advance reservations) that inform the participants about the Conservatorys plant collections, architectural history, plant acquisition and production, facility operations, and behind-the-scenes news.

Membership in the Friends of Conservatory makes possible the organization’s outreach and education programs, funds the docent program and promotes special events. For more information on the FOC, events, education, membership and volunteer opportunities please visit http://www.volunteerparkconservatory.org.

The Conservatory, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is also a City landmark and one of the few remaining original Victorian public glass houses in the country. It houses an outstanding tropical plant collection, hosts classes and day camps for school-age children, and provides space for art classes, events and public gatherings. The Conservatory shelters a tropical plant collection and provides a warm, quiet, beautiful refuge.


TOURS

Take a Mini-Tropical Tour!
Docents lead 30-60 minute tours, including information on Conservatory plant collections, architectural history, plant acquisition and production, physical facility operation, and behind-the-scenes news.
Ideal for groups of K-12 students, senior citizens, college students, gardeners, tourists, or Seattle landmark lovers.
Fees: Regular Admission Fee only, additional donations to Friends of the Conservatory gratefully accepted.
Times: Tuesday – Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., subject to availability of volunteer docents.
Please schedule two weeks in advance
More information:
(206) 322-4112 | foc@volunteerparkconservatory.org


WEDDINGS AT THE CONSERVATORY

Imagine a wedding at the Conservatorys lovely, tranquil Seasonal House, surrounded by fragrance and beauty.

Recent modifications to the space mean that it can accommodate up to 25 people. For more information, please go to our ceremony scheduling page.


THE FIVE HOUSES OF THE CONSERVATORY

Aechmea "Freiderike'
Aechmea 'Freiderike'

Photo by Giselle Blythe

Flowers in the Conservatory Bromeliad in the Conservatory
Photo by Beth Somerfield

Bromeliad House

  • Temperature 72°
  • Humidity 60%
  • Tropical Climate

Bromeliad species, members of the pineapple family, number over 2000.

Located primarily in the New World tropics, they are predominantly epiphytic. The bromeliad's central flower structure is surrounded by whorls of colorful leaves. High humidity is essential, as they absorb moisture from the air and collect water in their rosettes.

Other highlights include several species of Platycerium, "Staghorn Fern," also an epiphyte. The beautiful wrought iron display trees for the Tillandsia collection were created in 1999 by Randy Benson and his staff at Folia Fabric Botanicals in Seattle. In spring, Epiphyllum hybrids (Orchid Cactus) from the collection are displayed with their spectacular flowers.


Palm House

  • Strelitzia nicolai "Giant Bird of Paradise"
    Strelitzia nicolai
    "Giant Bird of Paradise"

    Photo by Giselle Blythe
    Temperature 72°
  • humidity 60%
  • Tropical Climate

The palm family has about 1200 species, some of which can be seen here. Most important commercial resources are the Coco, Date, Oil, and Sago palms. Large banana plants and their allied genera, Strelitzia (Giant Bird of Paradise), Heliconia, and Ginger plants bloom with most interesting flowers. Orchids grace the showcases all year around. Orchids are one of the largest plant families with about 20,000 species. Thirteen species occur in the Pacific Northwest. The fruit of Vanilla planifolia, a vine-like orchid plant, finds good use in the kitchen.


Fern House

  • Temperature 72°
  • Humidity 60%
  • Tropical Climate
Fern House
Fern House

Photo by Ed Backmon

A collection of tropical ferns and other exotics are featured here. On entering, observe the Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm) belonging to a family of plants which is among the oldest known to man. Tropical and subtropical flowering plants, including Brugmansias, Begonias, Aroids, and Hibiscus are part of a rotating display. A highlight in the Fern House is a small pond with moving water surrounded by Monstera (Mexican breadfruit) and Ferns. Carnivorous plants and Papyrus grow in the bogs beside the pond. The atmosphere is settling and creates a perfect place to stop and rest.


Seasonal Display House

  • Temperature 65°
  • Humidity 50%
  • Temperate Climate

Spring

Hydrangeas, fuchsias, scented geraniums, campanula, lilies.

Summer

Tibouchina, hydrangeas, perennials, grasses, coleus

Fall

Exhibition chrysanthemums, coleus, hebes.

Holiday

Poinsettias, gardenias, cyclamen, decorated trees, Holiday Train.

Winter

Gardenias, azaleas, forced daffodils and tulips, cinerarias, primroses.

Major floral displays change with the seasons making this spacious park-like greenhouse a year-round delight.

Some of the foliage plants shown here are easily recognized as common house plants, for example Algerian ivy, peperomia, coleus, ferns and ficus trees.




Cactus House

  • Temperature 72 - 80°
  • Very low humidity
  • Arid Climate
Flowers in the Conservatory Cactus in the Conservatory
Photo by Josh Eckels

The unusual form, structure, and size of the cacti and succulents presents an intriguing plantscape. All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Nearly all succulents are descendants of plants which adapted to dry, hot conditions when the earth began to warm up after the last Ice Age. This exhibit is especially spectacular when it is springtime in the desert of the Cactus House.

There is a 95 year old Crassula argentea (Jade Plant) that blooms beautifully November to January, as well as a potted collection of Sansevierias.



HISTORY OF THE GARDEN

In 1878, the City of Seattle acquired about 45 acres on north Capitol Hill from a sawmill engineer for $2000. First called City Park, the acreage was improved during the turn of the century using plans designed by the famous Olmsted brothers, landscape architects. In 1901 City Park was renamed Volunteer Park to honor the volunteers who served in the Spanish-American War.

The Conservatory, first proposed in 1893, was not completed until 1912. The City purchased the Conservatory design and framework from Hitchings Company of New York. It was erected by Parks staff. In 1922 growing greenhouses were built to grow and propagate plants in support of the conservatory and annual flower production for general public display use.

Over the years various specialty plant collections have been built primarily from donated materials. The rather extensive orchid collection began as a gift from Mrs. Anna H. Clise in 1921.

As time passed the Conservatory became badly deteriorated. Through public awareness brought on by the Friends of the Conservatory and the City’s desire to maintain this historical site, funds were made available for renovation of the structure beginning in 1980. Renovation of various portions is ongoing.The conservatory buildings and staff today remain under the auspices of the Seattle Parks Department.


UNITED STATES FISH & WILDLIFE CENTER

The Conservatory is a registered US Fish & Wildlife Department repository for confiscated plants seized from attempted illegal import activities. Restricted plants such as orchids, cacti and cycads are received from USFW agents, kept in quarantine for 30 days, then must remain in the Conservatory collection thereafter. They may not be sold, only traded to other botanical gardens and used for propagation.


 
Updated September 24, 2014

LOVE PARKS!

You can make a tax deductible donation to this park through the Seattle Parks Foundation.

Seattle Parks Foundation Logo

flower
Hibiscus Arnottianus.
Photo by Giselle Blythe
flower
Photo by Beth Somerfield
Photo by Josh Eckels
flower
Photo by Beth Somerfield
plants

Docent Tours
Docent Tour
Docent Tour
Tour photos by Giselle Blythe


Guide to the Conservatory
Homage In Green - 1981
In the top of the entry vestibule is a 35 panel hand blown and etched stained glass canopy by Richard T. Spaulding titled "Homage In Green". Around it's border designs trace 300 years of style evolution in English and American art history. Lilies, convolvulus and passion flowers etched in the center glass enhance the Victorian motif of the conservatory.

Lunette Window
The ornate half-circle beveled glass lunette above the central entry door is original to the Conservatory's construction in 1912, with the green glass pieces added to it in 1982 and 1995 by Richard Spaulding to complement the Homage In Green art glass.

Agave Agave
Photo by Ed Backmon

flower
Photo by Beth Somerfield

Oncidium - Yellow Oncidium - Yellow
Photo by Giselle Blythe

Amorphophallus titanum
Corpse Flower Friends of the Volunteer Park Conservatory
"Corpse Flower" at Volunteer Park Conservatory in 2005

 

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