I know, I know. I promised updates and posts about Montana and where we are living now. They are coming, definitely, but my other half had to go to Spokane for a seminar so, of course, I tagged along. Who could pass up the chance of some “city” comforts (i.e. Thai food, Indian food and Anthropologie) when you spend most of your days rattling around the mountains? Um, not me! So, tag along, I did.
Spokane is our nearest city and most Western Montanans make a pilgrimage to the urban oasis at least a couple of times a year. We’ve been making the trek for the last 20+ years so one does develop a certain knowledge-set based on the individual interests of the pilgrim. While we can both give pretty good recommendations for lodging and the aforementioned Thai and Indian food, we do diverge a bit from there. Erik? He can tell you the best routes to run and cycle, the location of each and every microbrewery within the city limits and what they are currently serving. Me? I can tell you the best coffee houses and bakeries, which restaurants are serving fresh, organic food and good wines, where Nordstrom and the aforementioned Anthropologie are located (and the nearest best parking places so you don’t lose your mind before reaching them) and parks. I’ve got parks covered.
I love parks. I spend alot of time in parks since we usually travel with canine companions. But even without the requisite dog walks, I still love discovering a new park and will seek them out wherever we wander. I guess this really comes as no surprise since I’ve freely admitted to my gardening addiction and to my time as a volunteer at the botanical garden in North Carolina. Well, I’m here to tell you that Spokane has one of the most glorious parks I’ve ever had the pleasure to wander. Manito Park.
Every pilgrimage I make to Spokane, if I can squeeze a visit in, I head straight for Manito. It doesn’t matter what season it is, it’s worth it every single time. It’s 90 acres of garden nirvana. There is a hilltop rose garden, a Japanese garden, a lilac garden, a formal garden, a perennial garden and a mirror pond. In the summer, there is an outdoor cafe and there are miles of trails winding throughout it all, taking you from formal garden to wooded park, up and over rock arches and down to the Japanese garden.
And if that’s not enough, the neighborhoods surrounding the park are filled with architectural gems, from mansions to tiny craftsman bungalows. Really, you could spend the whole day and still not see it all. Around every corner is a hidden bench or sunny table and chairs begging you to sit down and take it all in. I just can’t resist.
And you know what I really can’t resist? Yep, a glass house. What is it about stepping in from out of a drab colored, winter cold world into a tropical, vibrantly colored world that is so magical? It honestly makes me gasp each and every time I push open that door and take my first breath of warm, humid air. I have spent my life seeking out conservatories and glass houses. And there are a couple that immediately pop to mind as being some of my favorites (Christchurch Botanic Garden in New Zealand and the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Georgia). But, Manito’s Gaiser Conservatory? It might be small but it holds a special place in my heart.
So, no surprise, after dropping Erik off for a day of learning, I made a beeline to Manito and since it was cold and frosty, I went straight for the glass house. Now, I’m sure you know what’s coming so, for all of you flower lovers and gardeners out there, prepare to be wowed. For all others, thank you so much for visiting and I will try to make my next post less flower focused (um, but no promises).
Without further ado, let’s see what’s waiting for you at Manito’s Gaiser Conservatory!
Oh, I could go on and on but I’ll save a little mystery for those who might want to make their own pilgrimage. If you do decide to go, just FYI, the Mariana Stoltz BndB is quite a lovely spot to lay your head. So close to downtown yet in a walkable neighborhood close to Gonzaga University. And in the words of a friend who recommended it to me, “Phyllis puts on a mean breakfast.” That and a wild turkey who has made the grounds her home, who could ask for anything more?
So the next time you find yourself in gritty, frenetic Spokane and decide you need a break, grab a coffee at Rockwood Bakery (a block from the park. How convenient!) and go discover Manito Park. You won’t regret it and you just might pick up some brilliant garden ideas or a new plant if you time it right and hit the plant sale. Hmm, see you there and happy wandering!
PS: If you happen to be in Spokane during the Christmas season, I’ve heard they decorate the conservatory with lights and turn it into a winter wonderland. I’ve yet to catch it but it’s on my bucket list, for sure!