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BEST SIGN OF SPRING Minneapolis 1999 -

Every year, just when you've become convinced that winter will never end, the fine folks at the Conservatory put on their spring flower show. Park staff says it's the most popular of their seasonal unveilings (they almost always have one going), and with good reason: It's like taking a trip back to the days of formal gardens. Some 14,000 tulips, hyacinths, and other bulbs are artistically grouped in the stone and slate beds of the wing known as the Sunken Garden, where blooms pop out of stone walls and trail over ponds. The show is held every year from the Friday closest to spring Equinox through Mother's Day, with a special display of Easter lilies during the week leading up to that holiday. While you're at the Conservatory, tour the rest of the Victorian glass structure. It's warm and misty inside, and staff members are there to answer questions about the exotic and tropical flora in the other wings of the big glass house. Admission is one dollar for adults and half that for kids and seniors.

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