Volunteer Park Conservatory - 1402 East Galer Street - Seattle, Washington 98112 - (206) 322-4112

Frequently Asked Questions

A-The Palm House was sent out from Brookline, MA in 1912 and constructed by the Seattle Department of Parks for a cost of $5,000.

A- There were more than 150,000 visitors last year.

A- Number of glass panes: 3,426.

A- Number of square feet inside the Conservatory: 6,200. Number of square feet of supplemental greenhouse production space under glass: 10,400; plus several acres of outdoor nursery space. Most conservatory-type display gardens have at least double the greenhouse production space to public display space in order to maintain large collections and ensure spectacular displays year around.

A- The lunette or peacock window over the main entry is the only original wood and glass piece remaining from 1912 after two renovations. It was restored in 2000.

A- The oldest plants on display now are probably the Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) and the Jade Tree (Crassula argentea). Both are over 75 years old.

A- It is a chalky paint sprayed on the glass in early summer to protect the plants from excessive sun and heat. In the fall the white wash is removed when days become shorter and darker.

A- The Conservatory heating system is computer controlled. Two natural gas fired boilers heat water and valves open allowing hot water into pipes located below the display benches. The overhead and underbench vents are also computer controlled to regulate temperature and humidity. There is a sensing device in each house.

A- William Henry Seward (1801-1872) was the US Secretary of State under President Lincoln. He negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 for 7.2 million dollars, about 2 cents per acre. This became known as "Seward's Folly".

A- The FOC Gift Shop has a variety of plants for sale. We also have two large plant sales per year, on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend in May and a Saturday in mid-September.

A- It is probably about 40 years old – young in cactus terms. Opuntias grow rapidly and we prune ours frequently every year as it reaches the glass.

A- Yes, they are usually found in the boggy planters flanking the pool in the Fern House. Our collection includes Venus Fly Traps, Sundews, Pitcher Plants and more.

A- They are not palatable to humans, but are enjoyed by birds and monkeys in the wild.

A- We grow plants in our production greenhouse space from seeds, cuttings and divisions. We accept selected donated plants from the public. We are a certified US Fish and Wildlife Plant Rescue Center, accepting plants confiscated by US Customs when they are illegally imported.

A- Frank, the mitted sealpoint, and Ivan the black and white have lived here several years. They both showed up here as strays and decided to stay. The gardening staff and the FOC donate their food and medical expenses. Check out their web pages on www.shopcat.com!

A- There are five Seattle Park Department gardeners plus a summer temporary gardener. The Friends of the Conservatory provides many volunteers to help with all kinds of tasks. Learn more about volunteering.

A- Currently it goes into a special fund we can use to purchase plants or to enhance our displays.