Wednesday, January 15, 2014


(If you want to hear the sounds of the Conservatory - running water and trilling birds - click here first).

"Greenhoused and sung to
I pray light will
Leak from our pockets
We'll be drenched, overcome"
(Michelle Garrels, "Jacaranda")

We went to the Conservatory.
I wanted to go the day before, but no one else was on board.
On this bright and icy Monday, we actually got out the door in good time and made the easy drive to Minnesota's nearest jungle.

One hundred years ago, local leaders were using their heads.
They hired a German landscape artist named Frederick Nussbaumer to design a 60,000 square foot glass and wood building, modeled after Kew Gardens in England.
All this beauty, all this watery air, a wealth of palms and ferns and familiar fruiting trees (mango, coconut, cacao, avocado), all of it, free.     

 The Conservatory, banked in snow

Today Malachi is having a busy day. He can reach every knife in the knife drawer. So this post will be almost all pictures. Enjoy, and if you live within spitting distance of St. Paul, take your weary winter self to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.   

The Sunken Garden

Palms inside the dome.

White roses in the Sunken Garden.

Trying to get Mick to look at the camera

Sometimes, if we only have a couple of kids with us,
we like to pretend we're on a date.   
Walking on the paths, no coats!
Oh for joy.  

This was the part of the conservatory with all the trees from my childhood.
I was especially thrilled to see the mango tree with its long, deep green leaves.

Texture, color, light and childhood memories.

"In difficult times
carry something beautiful
in your heart."
(Blaise Pascal)


  1. Ahhh, but do they let you CLIMB the mango trees? :)

    1. I don't think they even let you touch them, Jamie! Although I don't remember climbing mango trees. Tacy and I often climbed the momay tree.

  2. That looks so nice. I remember how it smells in there, from my childhood. I wish we knew what to do around here. Jon woke up saying, "I'd really like to DO something today." They only have about 3-4 days left here (depending on how you figure), and we are sitting around on computers. How sad. When Shannon was at ESF in Syracuse, they didn't have anything like Como, but they did have greenhouses.

    1. I can't believe your kids are still home! Yay! Do your neighbors have any favorite winter haunts in your town? Even if you have to drive a bit, it's fun to do something memorable together. We hardly did anything because of the terrible weather. Eventually we got to the Weizman Art Museum at the U. That's why I had my heart set on getting to the Conservatory.