Como Conservatory: Two Acres under glass

What an honor to spend time with Tina Dombroski, Head Horticulturalist of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, and Laurel Lundberg, Director of Giving, on May Day. 

Tina (pictured) has been with the Conservatory for nine years.  Prior to coming to Minnesota she spent time in New York and Texas, and prior to this role she worked at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in West Sussex.  Tina and Laurel were so gracious with their time and our many questions.

Some  things you may not know about the Conservatory that I found of interest:

  • There are two acres of plants under glass.

  • Lilies are showcased in every Sunken Garden Show except the Autumn Show because they suit the Victorian-style design of that building beautifully and they are a favorite of the lead gardener.

  • Following the Macy's Bachmann Flower Show the Conservatory gardeners have first pick of the remaining flowers to bring to the Como gardens.

  • There are two working greenhouses where plants are cared for on huge rolling metal racks. The racks mobility makes for savings in square footage, moving them left and right to create aisle space.

  • The flagstone throughout the conservatory was installed in the 1920s and cost $58,000.

  • The Conservatory was built a century ago and this King Sage Cycadaceae tree pre-dates the building.

As an avid gardener and working in the field this was a special tour for me.  I recall entering the doors of the conservatory as a little girl, likely holding my mom's hand.  Huge thanks to a dear friend, Anne Sundal, for making the arrangements for a wonderful day.

This is a momentous year for the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory as visitors, staff and the state of Minnesota celebrate its 100th anniversary!  Part of the celebration includes the planting of a centennial garden which you can watch take form over the next six weeks.  June 19 - 21 is the Centennial Celebration Kickoff Weekend with music, movies, gardener talks and demonstrations.