Oct 27, 2022 - Things to Do

"Nature bathe" in a new greenhouse at the University of Washington

A view of a greenhouse made of metal and glass.

The UW Department of Biology's new greenhouse. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

The University of Washington will soon let passersby wander into a new, state-of-the-art greenhouse to bask in the glow of nature.

Driving the news: The UW Department of Biology offered a sneak peak this week of its new, 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, which was recently added alongside the campus' Life Sciences Building to house about 5,000 species of plants.

  • Starting in December, the greenhouse will open to the public on a walk-in basis on Thursday afternoons.

What they're saying: "It's nice on a cold day to be able to go nature bathe in a greenhouse room where it's actually warm," said Joyce Antonio, biology department communications manager.

A green leaf with white spots and a white flowers.
A begonia plant in one of the greenhouse's tropical rooms. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

Details: The greenhouse includes two rooms housing tropical plants, one room of desert plants and a room called the Tree of Life, which aims to show the evolution of plants over time — including some ancient ones dating from the time of the dinosaurs, biology department chair David Perkel tells Axios.

  • Unlike the old greenhouse, which was demolished in 2016 to make way for the new building, the new one uses much more advanced technology, with sunshades that retract automatically, automated misting for the plants that need it and precise temperature control.
  • Before, people had to climb onto the old greenhouse's roof and manually place shades to protect the plants at certain times of day, Perkel says.

It's easy to get lost for an hour or more looking at pitcher plants, orchids, cacti and the other types of greenery that make up the department's collection.

  • The greenhouse is located along the Burke-Gilman Trail, across NE Pacific St. from the Health Sciences Center and the UW Medical Center.
A hanging plant shown next to other plants in a greenhouse.
Cool plants. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios
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