Posts Tagged conservatories

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?

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