While plant shopping is a warmer season activity, at least one Seattle-area nursery is offering fresh new delights to lure us in out of the cold and wet. Many of us have been eagerly...

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While plant shopping is a warmer season activity, at least one Seattle-area nursery is offering fresh new delights to lure us in out of the cold and wet.

Many of us have been eagerly watching the progress on the new 8,000-square-foot conservatory at Swanson’s Nursery on Crown Hill near Ballard, which finally has opened.

The classic European glass house was shipped from Belgium, and its high ceilings and color-washed Little and Lewis columns and arbor add to the Mediterranean aura so alluring this time of year.

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The concrete floor is stained watery green, and the curvaceous beds filled with tropicals transport you to a plant paradise far beyond the wintry Northwest.

Nursery owners nationwide have traveled to Seattle to check out this unique space. Still to come are the koi ponds and the opening of Festivities Cafe, but people already are bringing their lunches or lattes and sitting at the tables beneath the palms and tree ferns to soak up the warmth and exotic ambience.

The permanent beds of leafy tropicals, cyads and palms soon will be laced with flowering vines and underplanted with seasonal displays.

There will be a collection of cacti and succulents, so you can eat lunch next to an agave, or just enjoy the waterfalls and passing koi. An adjoining seminar room features free programs; check out the Web page at www.swansonsnursery.com or call 206-782-2543 to sign up for January workshops on orchid care or houseplant selection.

Valerie Easton also answers questions in Wednesday’s Plant Talk on the back of Northwest Life. Write to her at P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111 or e-mail planttalk@seattletimes.com with your questions. Sorry, no personal replies.