I love to visit the Como Conservatory, especially in winter. Walking from the car, several inches of glistening snow has fallen on the rolling hills of Como Park. I see the glass monolith in the distance; it’s windows steamed up. As I open the door to this enormous greenhouse, I enter a lush, green jungle that’s humid and inviting. Seeing all of the exotic ferns and variety of tropical plants transports me to a better frame of mind. The orange and white koi swim toward the surface of the black water as if to say hello, with their gaping mouths opening and closing.
The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory was first opened to the public in 1915. I was surprised to find out that it is open every day of the year. There are several gardens and galleries. Some of my favorites are:
- the Bonsai gallery, where there are about eight bonsai trees. Most of them have been, as they say, “in training” since 2001.
- the Fern Room which features a wide array of tree ferns, Bird’s-nest fern, Adiantum, and several others.
- the North Garden, which houses useful plants such as aloe, bamboo, bananas, cacao, coffee, figs, macadamia, mahogany, manila hemp, manioc and papaya, and
- the Tropical Encounters Exhibit, featuring animals and plants from Central and South America. The river fish were especially intriguing since they are so much a part of the local culture.