Freesias, and the elusiveness of spring

Spring's freesias 7D1125_StaatsSpring has been more than elusive this year for us in Minnesota.  Our winter has lingered way longer than anyone wants, even threatening the long-awaited fishing opener next week.  When we should have 60 degree temps, open water, and blooming flowers we have instead endured two snowfalls in the past week alone, temps in the 30s and 40s, lakes still covered in ice, and nothing blooming.  But there is one place that is a haven of spring at this time of year – the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park.  This has been my refuge and antidote for our cold and gray continuing winter.  I found tulips and hyacinths, calla lilies and these lovely freesias.  The perfect dose of colors, smells, and the promise of spring.  Yet to come.

Bonsai garden opening

Ponderosa pine bonsai 7D1232_StaatsThis weekend was the grand opening of the Ordway Gardens at Como Park.  The new addition to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory allows for the viewing of one of North America’s top ten public collections of bonsai.  After a seven-inch snowfall on Thursday into Friday, the opening took on a non-springlike look.  How unusual to see a Ponderosa Pine bonsai with snow at its base!  It seemed a true testament to the hardiness and the beauty of bonsai.  And with the conservatory dome reflecting in the glass panel behind the tree it was a perfect representation of the beauty and the specialness of the conservatory and the new gardens.


Orchid still life 0794_StaatsI took some time this morning to photograph at the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park.  Their winter flower show is always a welcome breath of bright colors and greenery, helping us get through the cold months of winter and snow.  I spent over an hour in the Sunken Garden photographing the pink cyclamen, the blue pansies, and the gold and maroon primroses that were all blooming brightly.  And I was joined by many others too as we all were soaking in the promise of spring.  As I was leaving the gardens I noticed a collection of orchids that were arranged on a table near the exit.  There was nothing special about them, but they caught my eye.  The diffused light was coming in at an angle across the hallway, and it appeared to me that the orchids had arranged themselves.  Their delicate stems gracefully supported the blossoms that arched upward as well as the blossoms that hung delicately over the edge of one of the pots.  Their casual arrangement struck me as a beautiful sight – a pleasant contrast to the planned and orderly display of flowers in the Sunken Garden.

Petals of fall

I’m fortunate to live in close proximity to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Saint Paul.  No matter what season or what the weather’s like outside, there’s always a view of color and warmth at the conservatory.  And as we’re quickly approaching Thanksgiving, the sunken garden is filled with the warm colors of fall – yellows, oranges, and all the shades in between.  As I was photographing here this morning I was reminded of so many things I have to be thankful for:  my eyes, my health, my friends and family, a warm house, plentiful food, and the joy of living a wonderful life.  I hope your week of Thanksgiving gives you pause to appreciate all that you have and the world around you.


I awoke to a gray and cool morning and had plans to go to the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park to photograph the fall floral display.  The gardens were filled with the usual photographers all intent on getting the best images they could of the mums and grasses that decorate the Sunken Garden.  It was quiet and would probably have been considered quite boring if you were not a photographer.  But then we had an unexpected guest.  A fairy named Bud came into the conservatory gardens.  Her temperament and demeanor was youthful and energetic.  She flitted from garden to garden, amazed at the flowers and the palms, delighting in the koi that were swimming in the pools.  Her voice was high and impish and I noticed she’d caught the attention of all the photographers.  Someone asked Bud if she would sing a song for us.  She thought for a moment, then opened her mouth with a beautiful voice and rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious, and my morning in fairyland was most unexpected and delightful.