Colorful Crotons

Codiaeum variegatum_Croton_Conservatory - VolunteerPark-Seattle-WA_LAH_0334-001

My first thought was, is this for real? If I hadn’t seen it growing in the conservatory at the Denver Botanic Gardens, I’d have thought someone had been playing with Photoshop. I wondered what kind of plant could have leaves that are green, red, black, purple, orange, pink, yellow, and creamy white—all at the same time, and in crazy combinations!

My next thought was, can I have one?

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Volunteer Park Conservatory

Conservatory - VolunteerPark-Seattle-WA_LAH_0443I 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.

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Moth Orchids

Orchid_2943_filt_rel

With the holidays behind us, winter seems to stretch out as far as we can see. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready for a tropical vacation! We can’t afford tickets to a balmy beach or verdant rainforest, but I can manage to plunk down a mere $19.95—or less—for a blooming orchid. My imagination will have to supply the rest.

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Stay Dry, See Tropical Plants

wwseymourconservatory-tacoma-wa_lah_0512I 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.

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A Tropical Paradise

botanicgardens-singapore_lah_7427Last November I took you on a virtual tour of the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, Australia. Today we’re going to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens. According to Wikipedia, “It is one of three gardens, and the only tropical garden, to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” One visit, and it’s easy to see why.

The gardens were first planted in 1859 and presently contain over 60,000 plants. The place is huge—it took us hours to walk from one end to the other, but then I had to stop and appreciate every plant (and bird) I passed.

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DBG’s New Greenhouse Complex

boettcher-dbg_lah_6645-1Does 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?

orchid_dbg_lah_6265You 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.

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