Alaska Life

Anchorage municipal greenhouse offers a tropical respite from winter

As snow continued to accumulate on a gray February day, several people ducked inside the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse in East Anchorage for a midday respite from winter.

Marah Gotcsik and her 2-year-old son wandered the curved pathways of the solarium amid towering green trees from a world away. Gotcsik said she typically visits the greenhouse a few times each winter, usually on cold and blustery days.

“It feels like such a nice oasis,” she said.

The Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse is adjacent to the city’s horticulture complex at Russian Jack Springs Park, where thousands of plants are grown for landscaping and beautification. The public solarium and tropical greenhouse are open to the public from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

City gardener Brianna Shabolin said construction began on the facility in 1967.

“We have, still to this day, the three original trees that were planted in there in the solarium,” she said.

Over time, the collection evolves, she said. Its trees now include a hibiscus, a banyan, a ficus and a fig, Shabolin said. The room also features a koi pond and a small aviary.


Up the stairs from the solarium, a tropical greenhouse displays a collection of succulents, cactuses and several park benches.

“We have a 10-year-old poinsettia in there,” she said.

In late February, Chelsi Keller brought her 11-year-old son, Brody. They took pictures of the colorful flowers and of each other. Chelsi said she likes to come during the weekdays because it can be a popular location for photographers on the weekends.

“We love coming here. It’s just such a nice break from the weather,” she said.

Marc Lester

Marc Lester is a multimedia journalist for Anchorage Daily News. Contact him at