The St Paul Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory

Spring is not quite here but we went some place where you could say spring had arrived —  the St Paul Marjorie McNeeley Observatory which has free admission. Yes, I said free. They do have a box when you enter where you can give a donation, but other than that, you can just enter and enjoy yourself.

My husband and I went later in the afternoon so did not have a chance to stop at the zoo which is nearby.

On a cold dreary day earlier in the season, the local news aired a story about the St Paul Conservatory and I was determined to visit. It is truly a respite when the weather is dreary outside or for that matter — any time!

Today was another story though. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the 40’s and the snow was melting.  Yippee! It has already felt like a very long winter because of the many days of below zero that we’ve had.

There is parking at the zoo and lots of it. I was surprised how many people were there even though it was close to closing time (we arrived at 2 p.m. and it closed at 4 p.m. — winter hours).

St Paul, MN Como Conservatory
St Paul, MN Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory
St Paul, MN Como Conservatory
St Paul, MN – Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory
St Paul, MN Como Conservatory
St Paul, MN  – Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory

Inside, there’s a lot of glass overhead and sometimes soft mists of water come down from spigots as you’re walking down the path. Everything looks lush and beautiful — and more importantly, warm.

St Paul, MN Como Conservatory
St Paul, MN Como Conservatory

One of our first encounters was a fern called horsetails that reminded me of when we lived in Seattle as there was many a summer I would pull them out of the ground as they were considered weeds. They look so beautiful here.

Horsetails
Horsetails
St Paul, MN Como Conservatory
St Paul, MN Como Conservatory

There were many ferns — lots and lots of them. There are also plenty of benches for one to sit and enjoy the freshness in the air and the lushness here.

St Paul, MN Como Conservatory
St Paul, MN Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory
St Paul, MN Como Conservatory
St Paul, MN Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory
Queen Sage
Queen Sage

There was a section called the Sunken Garden that had walkways lined with cyclamen, amaryllis and other beautiful plants that were blooming. This was a real treat to my winter weary eyes. Here are some pictures for you to look at.

Walkway
Walkway
Amaryllis - Minnesota
Amaryllis – Minnesota
Red Amaryllis - Minnesota
Red Amaryllis – Minnesota
Pink & White Amaryllis - Minnesota
Pink & White Amaryllis – Minnesota

Lilly Pads

St Paul Como Conservatory
St Paul Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory

P1080346

Pink Amaryllis - Minnesota
Pink Amaryllis – Minnesota

Once we left the Sunken Gardens there were some very interesting trees — take a look.

Red Latan Palm
Red Latan Palm

Here’s a larger view of the Red Latan Palm which is found in the Mascarene Islands.

Red Latan Palm
Red Latan Palm

Look at the texture on this Bottle Palm – quite interesting and has a beauty all its own.

Bottle Palm
Bottle Palm

I wish I had orchids that looked like this, don’t you?

Orchid - Minnesota
Orchid – Minnesota

I was really surprised to see Annatto Leaves. The sign says that the leaves can be soaked in water and used to treat diarrhea, rash and swellings. (I’ve never used them in this manner so can’t vouch for that.) In Puerto Rico, we use annatto seeds to give color to our rice. We put a pot on the stovetop, add a little bit of oil and a few of the red seeds then we cook them through, strain them and use the colored oil for cooking.

Annatto Leaves
Annatto Leaves

Look at this tree that’s called the Silk Floss Tree and grows in South America. The prickles on it are used to store water.

Silk Floss Tree
Silk Floss Tree

This next tree, called the Chicle Tree, is also from South & Central America and I remember seeing it on a recent trip to Costa Maya, Mexico.

Chicle Tree
Chicle Tree

And here is Allspice — it doesn’t look like this in the bottle I have at home.

Allspice
Allspice

I was surprised to see a koi pond.  There is a Japanese Garden here but it was closed for the winter although they did have a small exhibit of bonsai trees (the lighting was not that great for pictures though). I’m looking forward to seeing the Japanese Garden when it reopens.

Koi Pond
Koi Pond

Now — this is interesting, no?  I didn’t see a tag that told me what it was though. Thoughts?

St Paul Como Conservatory
St Paul Como Conservatory

Stepping outside, I was reminded that winter is not quite over. The snow is melting and small drips of water fall from wherever there are icicles. The trees are still bald showing all their deficiencies in all their beauty and ugliness.

But — I especially like trees in winter. They remind me of how we as humans should be — transparent. If we were to see each other with all our weaknesses I believe we would be a little bit more kind to each other. Don’t you?

Tree - Minnesota Winter
Tree – Minnesota Winter
Tree - Minnesota Winter
Tree – Minnesota Winter
Tree - Minnesota Winter
Tree – Minnesota Winter

But instead — we sometimes hide behind the “leaves” of our loneliness, anger, sadness, selfishness — holding on to our vulnerabilities so that we can’t be hurt.

To know true love we have to take the risk of getting hurt. But there is no greater joy than in finding it.

Evergreen - Minnesota
Evergreen – Minnesota
Evergreen - Minnesota
Evergreen – Minnesota
Tree - Minnesota
Tree – Minnesota

Peace to your hearts my fellow humans!

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