Posted by: chlost | March 20, 2011

I finally take things into my own hands

There have been many lamentations here about the horrible winter this year.  It has gone on and on and on……  And all I could do was feel overwhelmed and complain. Very sad, very boring, and very repetitious. After all, how many ways are there to say “I am tired of winter”?

Today I finally decided I had to do something. If I could have, I would have flown away to someplace warm and sunny. Key West, San Diego, Mexico or even a Greek Island if I had to…..any of those choices would have worked just fine to clear my head of winter.  As all of those options are beyond my means, I decided to visit someplace where the entry fee is a voluntary donation, and it is only an hour’s drive from our home. My mom, husband and I headed in to grab a little color today in the only way we can around here.

We visited a conservatory. A plant conservatory.  The conservatory was built in 1915, and is made mostly of glass panels. It is built a bit like an octopus, with a large center area and “arms” of gardens which extend out in several directions. It is all indoors. The conservatory is part of a very large city park and zoo.  For many years, as I was growing up, the zoo was a horrible place. I hated to visit it, even as a child, as I felt sorry for the animals in smelly concrete  cages with metal bars like jail cells.  It has cleaned up its act in the past few years, expanding the exhibits for the animals and becoming more humane. I still don’t like the zoo. But the conservatory is a gem.  It has always been a beautiful place.

Photo from Wikipedia
The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park

The conservatory is an oasis of color and fragrance throughout the long winter months. There are flower shows, which change the flower varieties with each season. Today was the last day of the winter flower season.  Our eyes and noses devoured these beautiful flowers today. There is a small fish pond and fountain in the flower garden, so there was the sound and smell of water to enjoy in addition to the plants. It was warm and humid as well, making it feel almost like summer.

There are several different gardens, all with a unique theme. This one showcases flowers. There are others with ferns, one with fruit and spice trees or plants, and a center area with palms and greenery. This water nymph presides over the flower garden.

The water nymph presides over the sunken garden

The garden paths were lined with spring.

The bright pink rhododendrons  ( they might have been azaleas, I’m not exactly sure) offset the stone path beautifully. The overall color scheme for the garden was pink, white and red. There were a few other colors sprinkled in, but it gave the heart a sense of sweetness.  There were also some star-gazer lilies, whose scent filled the air. I am not a big fan of the scent of lilies, but for some reason a little bit of it in the air was just enough to make it smell like summer.

There were stalks of purple and white, and large Amaryllis flowers as well.

The purple flowers added to the palette, but I don't know the names of them.

Stargazer lilies provided the scent of spring.

Red amaryllis were everywhere.

The white amaryllis were a nice contrast.

Palms filtered out the (artificial) sunlight from above.

Another palm spread fronds to catch any light or water available.

Unfortunately, we had arrived at the conservatory just before closing. We had just half an hour to sit and enjoy this respite from the real world.

Yes, that is snow outside the conservatory entrance.

This is the reality we returned to as we left the conservatory.

We did enjoy a very pleasant half an hour. Afterward, we went out for dinner with our oldest son, and had a beer to drown our sorrows. Here in Minnesota, we take whatever color and spring we can find.  On March 20, this is what we found.



  1. That sounds like a perfect winter field trip. We don’t have anything like a conservatory around here – you’re very fortunate to have such a wonderful place to escape to when winter becomes too much to bear. Your pictures are lovely, especially when clicked on to enlarge them! The white amaryllis is a sight to behold!

    • We escaped-but today we awakened to 6 inches of snow on the ground. We just don’t seem to get away for long!

  2. Como park! When we took a road trip to MN in 2003, we hit the Visitors Center at the Iowa/Mn line. We told them we were headed to the Twin Cities for 3 days. The lady said “You HAVE to go to Como Park!”. She gave us a map with directions. We did end up going and loved it. Went throught the free zoo, played putt-putt, and the kid got to ride a bunch of kiddie carnival rides for an hour. Tyler took a pic of D’Aun and I in front of the Conservatory you visited. Glad you were able to get out of the house for awhile. Spring is fast approaching!

    • It is a great city park. As we drove through it, we wondered how long the city will be able to keep it with all of the budget issues they are facing.

  3. It has been a few years since I was there. Lovely spot. When I volunteered at the old raptor rehab back in the late 70’s and early 80’s we used to release small owls in the park. It was wonderful to take time off from work to do that. BTW, we are expecting 8 inches of snow tomorrow. Yuck!

    • My granddaughter loves owls. She would be so jealous! My husband went to school with the founding director of the center, then many years later, that same guy married my husband’s cousin. Weird world sometimes.

  4. Beautiful pictures! I absolutely love stargazer lillies (they were the main flower in my wedding bouquet.) What a much-needed taste of spring for you. I hope it’s enough to get you through until the weather warms up. Hang in there!

    • Our taste of spring was rudely interrupted by another blast of winter today. Ugh!

  5. I often complain about the scant snowfall received in this part of the country, but when early spring comes around I really appreciate our southerly latitude; the last few days have been sunny and in the 60s with flowers blooming everywhere.

    By the time school ends in the middle of May, it will be summertime.

    • I guess that no matter where you are, there can be something to complain about…what else would we do if not complain about the weather? Enjoy the flowers.

  6. I LOVE this place…even though there were mice skittering around the floor in the first room I visited. But mice are part of nature, right?


    Anyhow, the colors in your photo picked up my spirits way over here in Turkey, where it’s grey, grey, grey and cold and gloomy this week. To think, I’m mere hours away from a Greek Island, too!

    • Never saw mice, but I am sure there are many. I am glad the colors were able to brighten your day way over there! Go to the Greek Island! Send pictures!!!!

  7. What a lovely conservatory close to your home. I like your pictures – it add great colors to your post. You need to go back to the conservatory in the morning when you have plenty of time to visit, then sit and think. Plants and flowers have a way to make you feel happy. That was a great post.

    • Thanks! I will try to get there again soon. They’ve changed out the flowers now.

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