Lifestyle

World class rhododendron garden's new conservatory goes tropical with vireyas

The Rutherford Conservatory will be home to several hundred species of plants including vireyas, which are rhododendrons from the tropics.  - Courtesy photo
The Rutherford Conservatory will be home to several hundred species of plants including vireyas, which are rhododendrons from the tropics.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden is opening the new Rutherford Conservatory, the first public conservatory built on the West Coast in recent history, according to assistant director Shara Smith. The new building will house vireyas, a tropical strain of rhododendrons, along with some other tropical plants.

“A world class collection right here in Federal Way,” Smith said.

The idea for the conservatory began more than 20 years ago. There was lots of planning, fundraising and collecting of the plants, many of which can only be found in remote tropical locales.

The conservatory is named for the late Francis C. Rutherford, who was very active at the garden.

In addition to the large collection of plants in the 5,000-square-foot conservatory, there is also a rock sculpture, a fountain and an outdoor paved terrace that can be rented for events. The conservatory, like the rest of the garden, will be open year round. Inside the building, there will be bright colors year round.

There will be several hundred species of plants inside the conservatory.

“Everything is something you can’t see anywhere else,” Smith said. Some of the garden’s rhodys are from areas that are no longer safe for travel, including the mountains of Afghanistan.

The garden also propagates and sells the species found at the garden.

“Our focus is not just beauty, but trying to conserve the species,” Smith said.

There are over 550 species of rhodys at the garden from all over the world, including Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Check it out

The grand opening for the conservatory will run 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 25 at the garden, 2525 S. 336th St. on Weyerhaeuser campus. Standard gate rates are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Members get in free. There will be local dignitaries, tours and light refreshments.

For more information, visit www.rhodygarden.org.

Our Mobile Apps

Community Events, April 2014

Add an Event
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Apr 18 edition online now. Browse the archives.