It’s a cold winter day and Ruth Kassinger is eating fresh kumquats that she’s just picked from a tree inside her suburban Washington home. The kumquat is among a variety of tropical plants in the sunroom Kassinger calls her conservatory.
A chance visit to the National Botanic Garden in Washington gave her the idea to build her more modest version. “I walked in and the glass doors opened and I stepped into a beautiful green lush, warm and humid jungle, and I walked around for a while, and was just stunned by how beautiful and full of life this place was.”
Kassinger wanted a place of refuge, where she could heal after her sister’s untimely death and her own recent bout with breast cancer. But getting started presented some hurdles.
“I hated gardening,” she says. “I really hated the bugs and oppressive summer humidity in Washington.”
The solution was simple: she would grow plants indoors in pots.