Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In the conservatory with the camera, Part II March 5, 2014

GROWING UP, I LOVED the mystery board game Clue. Determine the murderer, weapon and mansion room in which the crime was committed and you win the game.

Simple? Not necessarily. The game requires a great deal of concentration, plotting and even some deception.

While Clue includes a cast of characters with interesting names like Colonel Mustard and Mrs. Peacock, what most intrigues me are the rooms. Imagine a home with a lounge, a billiard room and a conservatory. Yes, a conservatory, smaller in scale than the one I toured Sunday afternoon at Como Park.

The Mzarjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Mzarjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, with its winding paths, nooks and extensive foliage, would present the perfect setting for a St. Paul-based mystery. In the shrouded mist of the Fern Room, I can almost imagine a shadowy figure lurking. In the Palm Dome, I can envision a chase. Inside the Sunken Garden, I can picture a stand-off on opposite ends of the garden.

Ah, yes, my imagination appears to be in overdrive. Blame winter madness. Blame the need to escape.

And so we shall…

Follow this path through the North Garden.

Follow this path through the North Garden.

Stop to enjoy the orchids, these in the Palm Dome.

Stop to enjoy the orchids, these in the Palm Dome.

Appreciate leaves as big as an elephant's ears.

Appreciate leaves as big as an elephant’s ears.

Admire the art, including this statue in a Palm Dome fountain.

Admire the art, including this statue in a Palm Dome fountain.

Or create art like this member of the Metro Sketchers working in the Sunken Garden.

Observe a member of the Metro Sketchers creating art in the Sunken Garden.

Or photograph the film crew filming the artist's work.

Photograph the cameraman filming the artist’s work.

Admire the simplistic beauty of orchids.

Admire the simplistic beauty of orchids.

Notice the contrast of a bonsai tree against a steamed window knowing only glass separate the plant from a snowy landscape.

Notice the contrast of a bonsai tree against windows, knowing only glass separates the plant from a snowy landscape.

Mention to your daughter and son-in-law how nice one of these bonsai trees would look sitting on a window ledge in their St. Paul apartment.

Mention to your daughter and son-in-law how nice one of these bonsai trees would look on a window ledge in their  apartment.

Because you are so smitten by these mini trees, consider for a moment how you might smuggle one out of the conservatory. You realize this is an impossibility given the crowd, the staffing and that you left your winter coat in the car.

Because you are so smitten by these mini trees, consider for a moment how you might smuggle one out of the conservatory. You realize this is an impossibility given the crowd, the staffing and that you left your winter coat in the car.

Imagine that you are aboard a ship in a fleet transporting exotic spices.

Pretend you are aboard a ship in a fleet transporting exotic spices.

If only you were a little taller, you'd grasp one of those oranges. Wait a minute. Where's that tall son-in-law?

Banish the temptation to pick a juicy orange. (Where’s that tall son-in-law?)

If only you could snip a few lilies to take home, to carry you through the next few months. Until spring...

If only you could snip a few blooms to take home, to carry you through the next few months. Until spring…

FYI: To read my first post from Como Park Conservatory, click here.

Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling