the zoo

First established in 1897.   Como Zoo is that place that I was taken to at least once a month as a child and recall always wanting to go back.  And when my children were young going to greet the zoo animals was a frequent stop.  We typically by-passed the carnival rides section, occasionally walked through the conservatory to smells flowers and feel the warmth of the sunken garden but walking near the animals was a given.   


We'll be back soon, lions, tigers, bears and giraffe!


como regional park pool

july 20, 2015

Nicole, James, Brooke and I took advantage of the heat last weekend and visited the Como Pool. 

It was crazy busy but didn't feel overly crowded because the space is beautifully designed.  It feels like a miniature Disney park with a climbing wall, zip-line and lazy river feature.  Picnic tables and plenty of lounge chairs around.  We will definitely go back.  

A couple pieces of info to consider: 

  • Follow their Facebook Page for updates about pool closings and capacity especially on the weekends.   
  • Bring your own life jackets for the kids or use theirs for free.
  • An excellent staff of lifeguards on duty which will compliment your own watchful eyes. 
  • Tot Time on Saturday mornings is exclusively for kids under 6 and their accompanying adult(s)
  • Bring cash for the lockers.  It's just a $5 deposit and then $4 back when you return the lock and key.  Next time, I will get a key and lock when we go through the line the first time.  It's an easy way to stash your valuables so you can wander and not be concerned about your keys, cameras, etc.      

The pool hours and cost are listed on the City of St. Paul website here



grand opening of the centennial garden

June 16, 2015

For those that enjoy this Minnesota treasure, you may know this is a big year of celebrating the 100th year of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.  The grand opening of a Centennial Garden was last night, David and I had a wonderful evening meeting new people and enjoying this gorgeous new entrance to the conservatory.

I had an opportunity to chat with Nora McNeely Hurley, one of the five children of Donald and Marjorie McNeely.

The McNeely Foundation is a major contributor to The Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, St. John's University, YMCA and Mr. McNeely memorialized his aunt and uncle with the Warner Coliseum at the MN State Fairgrounds.  He was co-owner of the MN Vikings and helped bring the Washington Senators to Minnesota as the MN Twins.  He is described by The New York Times as a man of 'unflagging faith and courage, married his great love Marjorie.....was a generous man not only with his resources and time, but also with his heart.'

The children decided to honor their mother with a $7 Million dollar contribution to build the 60,000 square feet conservatory.  $4 Million was dedicated to building and the remaining $3 Million was dedicated to ongoing maintenance.

Nora was gracious and charming, as was her dapper husband Michael Hurley.  I loved the way Nora's eyes glimmered with a bright smile, saying 'It is lovely to meet you.  Thank you for being a part of Como Conservatory and this beautiful evening.' 

It was me who should be thanking her for all they have done to shape Minnesota culture.

Special thanks for the warm welcome and invitation by Laurel Lundberg, Director of Giving, Michelle Furrer, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Campus Manager, and Paul Oberhaus, President, CPMI Construction (both pictured below).  CPMI Construction was the general contractor of the Centennial Garden and has had oversight of many other projects at Como.

Also pictured above is friend Anne Sundal talking with Nora McNeely, daughter of Donald and Marjorie McNeely.


Como Conservatory: Two Acres Under Glass

May 1, 2015

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 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 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.