I just spent two weeks in western Washington visiting my daughter and her family—two weeks of giggles, bedtime stories, and stomping in the puddles left by Seattle’s incessant rain. While my focus was on our granddaughters, I couldn’t help but feast my soul on all the green—in mid-winter! Broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons, still-verdant lawns, even the emerald moss on the roof were all a welcome respite from Colorado’s winter browns. The only problem was that I had to get wet to enjoy it all. That’s why we planned a visit to the Volunteer Park Conservatory, located on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
I love to visit Washington. The state is a gardener’s paradise. All those dreary days translate into brilliant azaleas and rhododendrons, ferny grottoes, and towering evergreens. The trick is enjoying those gorgeous gardens when it’s raining—and it rains a lot. Sure, you can visit in the summer, when days are sunny and the sky is a sapphire blue. But what about right now?
One way to get out of the February cold and wet is to visit a conservatory. (This applies to cold and snowy Colorado, as well.) And one of my favorites is the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, located in the 27-acre Wright Park Arboretum, Tacoma. This glassed enclosure houses over 250 species of tropical and semi-tropical plant, including 200 different orchids—just the antidote for a gloomy winter day.
Does chaffing wind have you pining for gentle tropical breezes? Do the empty branches of your shrubs and trees leave you starving for bright green foliage? Are you dreaming of the scent of gardenias and orange blossoms?
You don’t need to buy a plane ticket. Just head over the Denver Botanic Gardens’ new greenhouse complex. Walk through the door and your senses are engulfed by luxuriant growth. Feast on the bright colors and fascinating shapes of plants from faraway places. Inhale the humid air that keeps these exotics healthy and blooming. Pretend you are far, far south of Colorado.
Here I am, still in the middle of winter. There are five more weeks until spring, and that’s just according to the calendar. At my altitude of 7,000 ft, I won’t be seeing green until the end of April. I need something to encourage and motivate me… something green and flowering… something more productive than pacing the floor, complaining about the gloom, and dreaming about a trip to the Bahamas that isn’t in the budget.
My husband is well aware that his wife develops a bad case of cabin fever by mid-February. That’s why our annual Valentine’s Day date involves a visit to a tropical rainforest. No, we don’t buy a plane ticket. In fact, we head north. We hop in the car and make the hour drive to Denver.
The greater Denver area sports at least three options for anyone in need of a green-leaves-and-humidity break. Other parts of the country will have similar places, where you can escape winter for a day. (more…)