Art Glass Among the Flowers

The W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

A couple of years ago I tripped up to the City of Tacoma to visit the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Wright Park. This is a fabulous place to spend a couple of hours – the greenhouse is more than a century old and constructed with over 3,000 panes of glass, including the unique twelve-sided glass dome.

The floral exhibits change every month and are exquisite, if you like that sort of thing, which I do. The permanent displays include over 200 orchid plants and there are helpful Master Gardeners on site every Saturday to answer questions from the public.

During the process of writing this post, I discovered the conservatory also serves as a Plant Rescue Center. I never thought about the need for this sort of thing. Animals and wildlife, sure…but for greenery? Apparently, plants confiscated at US/Canadian border crossings by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife are brought to the facility. 

Okie dokie.

Now I can’t stop wondering what’s done with the rescuees…are the plants considered biological contraband? Perhaps they’re auctioned off to recoup legal costs. Maybe they’re planted in the park. I wonder about this stuff…don’t you?

So, my mom called and suggested we visit an art glass exhibit occurring inside the Seymour Botanical Conservatory. Since I like plants, especially the flowering varieties, and enjoy working with glass – this seemed like one of those don’t-miss-it-opportunities. Off we went, and it was pretty nifty.

The conservatory is at the edge of a large city park so the structure juts up out of the manicured landscape like something exotic and lovely, a throwback to a previous age. I’ve always wanted a conservatory. Of course I’ve always wanted a woolly mammoth too and the odds of getting either are pretty slim.

I’m not bitter.


The flowers were gorgeous and the art glass, made by Dale Chihuly, was very striking. Scattered in amongst the blooms and leaves, the abstract glass forms in their vibrant tones were a lovely complement to the setting. You can see in the pictures that a lot of the art glass looks like alien forms of fungi rising out of the foliage. An excellent setting for a science fiction story.

The high humidity of the conservatory, the brilliant bursts of color, and heady scent of the floral displays was intoxicating. I’d live in there if I could. The employees weren’t too hip on that idea and there’s not a lot of privacy either. Even so, it’s worth a visit if you’re in town. Conservatories and arboretums are like tiny oxygen factories. The warmth, humidity, light and tropical clime make for relaxed people.

The light and moisture inside places like the Seymour create excellent environments for growing plants, but they’re also really wonderful for displaying glass. Reflected light and dewdrops made the colors glow like they were lit from within. The pictures don’t do the art glass justice.

What makes you a relaxed happy individual? Where are your happy places? Why aren’t you there right now?

, ,

  1. #1 by Traci Kenworth on March 24, 2012 - 5:11 am

    This is beautiful. Thanks!!

    • #2 by Leslie on March 25, 2012 - 10:42 am

      Thanks! I have such an urge to drive up and see what’s there now. If I lived nearby I’d go every month just to see the changes. Plus, they have a kicking gift shop.

  2. #3 by Marcia Richards on March 25, 2012 - 11:54 am

    Oh, I’d love to see this, Leslie! We don’t have such a thing in our tiny town, but not far from my hometown there is a botanical garden. Haven’t been there yet, but will make it a point to do so.
    I love blue trumpet-shaped glass, just beautiful. And blossoms are gorgeous. Calming for sure! Glad you were able to enjoy it. When I need calming, I find a lake, sit on the shore and take in all the scents, sights and sounds…the fish jumping, birds diving, etc. That’s my favorite place.

    • #4 by Leslie on March 25, 2012 - 1:13 pm

      It’s such a lovely structure. I know arboretums used to be really common, especially in larger metropolitan areas or neighborhoods where there were strong socio-economic systems. There are quite a few historic ones. The King of Sweden had one large enough to hold dozens of orange trees, called The Orangery. How insane is that? That’s on my bucket list. lol

      Natural settings are the perfect place to recharge and refocus. We should all have such a retreat.

  3. #5 by Gunvi Sund on March 26, 2012 - 2:02 am

    Happy thoughts from Sweden.
    That is a very beautiful place you have nearby. I wish I could visit.
    It is true that we have a large Orangeri,

    • #6 by Leslie on March 26, 2012 - 9:17 am

      Thanks for visiting, Gunvi~

      The link to the Orangery is wonderful, thanks! I have a new appreciation for the amount of labor it must have taken to maintenance a greenhouse that size. I’d love to see one still being used to grow citrus. Actually, I’d like to have one to grow citrus…the climate here is too chilly and wet to grow them outside. Come visit!

  4. #7 by Natalie Hartford on March 26, 2012 - 5:14 am


    • #8 by Leslie on March 26, 2012 - 9:20 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s