Bloedel Conservatory Update: Big Things are Underway!

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Scaffolding in place for roof replacement project at the Bloedel Conservatory

The Bloedel Conservatory Roof Replacement Project is now underway!

This large and unique project will take place in a series Phases, with Phase I scheduled for completion this Spring. Currently, the scaffolding is up and the large cross beam has been lowered into place over the top of the dome. There are a total of 1,490 ‘bubbles’ that make up the dome in 32 different sizes: 12 panels will be replaced everyday, one at a time, for a total of 400 panels in this first phase. A clear covering will be placed over the scaffolding on the outside with a fine nylon netting placed inside to keep the visitors, birds and plants safe during the process. The Bloedel Conservatory will remain open 7 days a week during regular hours. Phase I includes replacing the fan and ventilation system, the centre dome panels and the roof section over the building entrance. See a diagram of the scaffolding plan and more project details here: bit.ly/1eZS3lD

Fundraiser to Support the Bloedel Conservatory

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014 | 7:30 p.m.  Tickets: VBGA Members $20 | Non-members $25

Join costume historian Ivan Sayers for “Fine Feathers Make Fine Birds”, for an entertaining evening on the use of feathers in twentieth-century fashion. Mr. Sayers will show examples and regale the audience with his vast and knowledgeable stories on the topic. This lecture will be held in the Great Hall at VanDusen Visitor Centre, VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5151 Oak Street. Parking is free. Purchase tickets by phone: 604-257-8190 or in person at the VanDusen Admission Desk during Garden hours.  

Rediscover Bloedel with Monthly Family Programs

Come in and rediscover Bloedel with our new Family Programs, for children ages 5–11 years of age.  Programs run during February and March. Learn something new while staying warm during these winter months in our little corner of tropical paradise! Groups will meet inside the Conservatory. An adult must accompany the child(ren) for the entire program. All programs are fun for the whole family. Mark your calendars!

Taste of the Tropics – Sunday, February 9

banana blossomDrop-in 10:30 am – 4:30 pm (FREE with Conservatory Admission)

Tropical rainforests are home to many plants that we use in our daily lives. Visit our ‘incredible edibles’ station and learn more about the orchid that vanilla flavouring comes from, the coffee tree, plantains and many more tasty tropical treats. Test your knowledge with our mouth-watering match up game and search the beautiful Bloedel Conservatory for these plants.

Flit Flutter and Fly: Get to Know the Birds of Bloedel – Monday, February 10

orange headed gouldianDrop-in 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (FREE with Conservatory Admission)

Explore Bloedel Conservatory with a watchful eye on the birds that flit, flutter and fly in this rainforest oasis. Visit the “bird brain” station to receive a series of clues to help you find some specific feathered friends while touring the site. You will receive a bird stamp as a reward for completing the challenge and get a chance to eat like a bird with a variety of bird beak props.

Life in a Bromeliad: Build a mini rainforest – Sunday, March 16

bromeliad_costa rica10:30 a.m. – noon OR 1:30-3 p.m. Registration required.

Take a tour of the Conservatory and uncover the interesting and amazing world of epiphytes and bromeliads. We will investigate the creatures that depend on these plants and use a microscope to peer into the mini ecosystem that thrives within a bromeliad. You’ll also be creating a take-home mini rainforest terrarium with an air plant!

To register: Call 604-718-5898  Tues – Fri, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. or email: familyprograms@vandusen.org.

Family Day Long Weekend

Along with the new programs, be sure to plan a visit for the Family Day long weekend, February 8 – 10 to meet our new Roving Docents! They have been training hard and will be on hand all weekend to share intriguing stories on the exotic plants and birds that live under the dome. They will happily point out species that are easy to miss and answer any questions you may have.

Walk in the Tropics

Growing Rainforest Plants at Home – February 23, 2014, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

bromeliadsDid you know that you can grow many of the plants found at the Bloedel Conservatory right in your own home if you give them the proper care and conditions?

Join instructor Egan Davis on a walk through the conservatory focusing on these plants and the techniques to grow them. He will also share stories about their native rainforest habitat, pollinators and more. VBGA member price $10 / Non-member price $15. Registration is a must: Call 604-718-5898 or visit: http://bit.ly/1apch3U to download a registration form.

There are big projects, programs and events underway at the Bloedel Conservatory throughout February and March!

Be sure to support our green jewel and take part in the fun of Rediscovering Bloedel!

A New Year for Our Tropical Green Jewel

Bloedel Conservatory and Plaza Clock. Photo Vicky Earle.

Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © Vicky Earle.

A New Year is around the corner and we have much to celebrate at the Bloedel Conservatory!

There have been exciting things underway at our green jewel atop Queen Elizabeth Park. Here is a quick recap of 2013 and a look forward to the New Year:

This past year began with the monumental signing of the agreement to merge the Bloedel Conservatory with the VanDusen Botanical Garden. This was a culmination of 4 years of hard work and cooperation between the Vancouver Park Board, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association and the Friends of the Bloedel. With the Bloedel Conservatory officially under the wing of VanDusen Garden, 2013 became a year of organization and planning!

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Lush interior of the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © Vicky Earle

With the VBGA staff officially on board, many new and exciting projects got underway. First, new docents will begin training in early January and will undergo an intensive eight week program to learn about the world of tropical plants and birds that live under the dome – plus their bigger connection to rainforests around the world. Once this program is complete, they will be roving the Conservatory every weekend throughout the year and sharing the incredible stories under the dome.

VanDusen website

The VanDusen Botanical Garden/Bloedel Conservatory launched a brand new, easy to navigate website: www.vandusengarden.org. It’s now easier than ever to register for programs at the dome and donate to specific projects to better the Bloedel Conservatory. Visit http://vandusengarden.org/node/311 to read more and find out how.

Yellow Butterfly Orchid (Psychopsis papilio Lindl. H.G.James)

Yellow Butterfly Orchid (Psychopsis papilio Lindl. H.G.James)

As always, one of the big highlights of 2013 were the Orchid Shows put on in partnership with the Vancouver Orchid Society. Each show was a smashing success with spectacular and exotic blossoms filling the subtropical section of the Conservatory. Knowledgeable VOS members led tours and answered questions about the dazzling displays. We eagerly look forward to more orchid shows during 2014!

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‘Circle of Light’ by James Fletcher, made of Portuguese Alabaster.

New for the Conservatory last year was the SSBC Sculpture Show “A Celebration of Nature”, which took place from February through March. The exhibit featured more than 45 pieces of work by fifteen Sculpture Society artists – all placed at key locations throughout the tropical atmosphere of the dome. A variety of materials such as bronze, copper, marble, granite, serpentine, exotic woods and terracotta were on display and sculptors of the society were on hand giving weekly demonstrations.

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Amazon Lily. Photo © Vicky Earle

The Walk in the Tropics series saw another successful year featuring talks on orchids, the birds of Bloedel, healing gardens, and the intriguing history of the Conservatory with little known stories of the dome. Don’t miss the new Walks scheduled for January and February: Rainforest Plants in your Kitchen taking place Sunday, January 19th at 11am. This walk will shed light on ethnobotany with a focus on rainforest foods we use in our daily lives. On Sunday February 23 at 11am, Egan Davis will discuss Growing Tropical Indoor Plants. Did you know that you can grow many of the plants seen in the Bloedel Conservatory at home? Egan will show you how. He will also discuss the plants’ native rainforest habitat, pollinators, and more. Register Here Online

Brilliantly coloured Orange-headed Gouldian finch enjoying breakfast at the feeding station.

Brilliantly coloured Orange-headed Gouldian finch enjoying breakfast at the feeding station.

2013 also saw the amazing and special gift of 100 new finches in August and Malibu, the sulphur crested cockatoo in May. They add a tremendous boost of colour and activity under dome and delight visitors of all ages. The Conservatory is a great home and they are all thriving!

And the gifts did not stop there! In March, the Federal Government invested $225,000 to complete phase 1 of the Bloedel Conservatory’s roof replacement project and is an important supplement to the City of Vancouver’s $1 million capital investment already in place for the new roof. Phase 1 of the project consists of replacing a percentage of the existing out of date roof panels and refurbishing the central ventilation fan at the top of the dome. The fan replacement was completed in September and the roof is scheduled to get underway in January! What an exciting and much anticipated way to ring in the New Year!

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Inner roof circle. Photo © Vicky Earle

Considering the city of Vancouver nearly lost this green jewel forever only 4 years ago, this year of 2014 will see the fruition of new programs, events and celebrations at the Bloedel Conservatory.

We thank you ALL for your continued support of the Bloedel Conservatory and wish you and your families a wonderful and prosperous New Year!

We also thank all of the organizations and individuals who partnered with the Conservatory and generously dedicated their time and resources to make 2013 a success!

Be sure to visit our green jewel at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park and immerse yourself in the magic of the dome during 2014!

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African Starling at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © Vicky Earle

A World of Feathers

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Ildiko Szabo, Assistant Curator of the Cowan Tetrapod Collection at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, is passionate about birds. We welcomed her to the Bloedel Conservatory as a special guest speaker for a Walk in the Tropics talk titled “A World of Feathers”.

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“Feathers are actually quite simple in structure: there is a centre strengthening shaft and on either side are the vanes or the feathery bits. When we look at the shape of the feather – one side versus the other – the ratio of width and narrowing, we can tell where on the bird it came from”. Primary, secondary and tertiary feathers were explained as well as growing and molting patterns in different types of birds.

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Casey, the Amazon parrot

Ms. Szabo continued the fascinating discussion with coloration. The colours in feathers are formed in two different ways – either from pigments or from light refraction caused by the structure of the feather. In some cases feather colors are the result of a combination of pigment and structural colors. For example, the greens of some parrots are created by yellow pigments overlaying a blue-reflecting characteristic of the feathers, as can be seen on Casey the Amazon parrot pictured above. Pigment in birds comes from three different groups: melanins, carotenoids, and porphyrines.

Melanins occur in both the skin and feathers of birds and can produce colors ranging from the darkest black to reddish browns and pale yellows. What’s really interesting is that feathers containing melanin are stronger and more resistant to wear and tear than feathers without it. White feathers – those without any pigmentation at all – are the weakest. Many otherwise all white birds have black feathers on their wings or black wingtips. The melanin that causes the tips to appear black also provides extra strength. For example, the Pied Imperial or Torres Straight Pigeons, are powerful and agile flyers crossing large bodies of water between coastal islands, so very strong feathers are needed.

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Pied Imperial Pigeon

Carotenoids are responsible for the bright yellows while porphyrins produce a range of colors, including pink, browns, reds, and greens. Porphyrins are found in some owls, pigeons and pheasants. They can also produce the brilliant greens and reds of touracos, like the one pictured below. Blue feathers, on the other hand, are almost always created by the structure of the feather rather than pigment. Tiny air pockets in the barbs of feathers can scatter incoming light, resulting in a specific, non-iridescent color.

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Guinea touraco

Special thanks again goes out to Ms. Szabo for an insightful and fascinating talk! The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is located at 2212 Main Mall, south of University Boulevard on the UBC Point Grey campus and is Vancouver’s natural history museum.

Don’t miss the last Walk of the year! Be sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, November 17th at 11am for the next inspiring Walk in the Tropics “Since the Beginning of Bloedel”. Join Park Board Commissioner John Coupar on a historical tour of the Bloedel Conservatory. As the son of Bloedel’s first Garden Director, Charles Coupar, John will share stories and little known facts about the people, the mission, architecture, construction and development of Bloedel since it was built in 1969. Registration is a must! Visit bit.ly/1fmweyD for more information.

Bloedel Conservatory under construction.

Bloedel Conservatory under construction in 1969.

100 New Birds Grace the Bloedel Conservatory!

Imagine all the colours of a rainbow wrapped around one tiny adorable little bird! Now multiply that times 60! It is truly a sight to behold!

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A variety of gorgeous new exotic birds including gouldian, saffron, lavender, cordon bleu and fire finches now grace the Bloedel Conservatory. All thanks to a tremendous donation by a private hobby breeder from Calgary. She selected our green jewel at the top of Queen Elizabeth park as the perfect recipient of these small bundles of wonder. After receiving thorough check ups from Night Owl Veterinary Clinic, over one hundred new birds now call the Conservatory home!

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The tropical and subtropical environment in the dome are ideal for these types of finches. Even though gouldian finches, native to Australia, make up about 60% of the donation, the Conservatory’s African finch collection has also gotten a big boost. Red-cheeked cordon bleu, gold breasted waxbills, grey and green singing finches and red fire finches are among the recent additions.

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Also new to Bloedel are two pairs of lineolated parrots, and a stunning Lady Amherst pheasant. There is so much to talk about on the next

Walk in the Tropics

taking place on

Wednesday, August 21st at 6:30pm!

Join Jenny Tamas, Adoptions Director from the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, who will introduce you to the all of the parrots, macaws, and of course the smaller birds that live at the Conservatory. She will share interesting facts about each species, as well as the care required, diet considerations and tips for keeping your own feathered companions healthy and happy.

Cost to attend the walk is $10 for VanDusen members and $15 for non-members, which includes admission to the Conservatory. Pre-registration is a must! Register online, by phone, in person or by fax. Visit the VanDusen Botanical Garden Adult Education Registration page for all registration information.

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So, what are you waiting for? Grab your camera and get up to the Bloedel Conservatory! Your whole family will be delighted by the exotic sights and sounds. It’s always a great day for a visit! The birds can’t wait to meet you!

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Friends of Bloedel Receive Award of Honour from City of Vancouver Heritage Commission

On May 27th, the founding Directors of the Friends of the Bloedel were recipients of the Award of Honour from the City of Vancouver Heritage Commission.

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From Left to Right: John Coupar, Sheryl Hamilton, Vicky Earle, Councillor Elizabeth Ball, Tom Hobbs

This top award demonstrates an outstanding contribution to heritage conservation in the City of Vancouver and recognizes the advocacy and successful efforts to save and revitalize landmark sites. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Ball presented John Coupar, Vicky Earle, Sheryl Hamilton, Terri Clark and Tom Hobbs with the award on Monday evening. The Heritage Awards Ceremony takes place every two years with awards of Recognition, Merit, and Honour given to successful nominees.

Saving the Bloedel Conservatory would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the community and donors both large and small. Thank you to all who helped the Friends along the way and to those who continue to do so. Our success would not have been possible without you.

This recognition of the work done by the Friends is a step which we hope will help ensure the rebirth and long term success of this green jewel at the pinnacle of our city. This rebirth was achieved by a remarkable community based effort led by the Friends and supported by the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association, which we are now privileged to be a part of. As an integral part of the VanDusen Botanical Garden – the centre of sustainability and environmental excellence in our City – the Bloedel Conservatory’s comeback is well under way. Please continue to visit and enjoy all that both gardens have to offer!

Orchids and More in May!

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Looking for somewhere fun and relaxing to take Mom on Mother’s Day? May is all about orchids at the Bloedel Conservatory! There are exquisite orchids on display right now: gorgeous phalaenopsis (moth orchids) and cymbidiums (boat orchids), as well as the more unique lady slipper, spider and oncidiums (dancing lady orchids). Always a treat to see and sure to delight Mom! The Conservatory is now open until 8pm everyday throughout the summer – perfect after a stroll in Queen Elizabeth Park or dinner at Season’s Restaurant. And it gives you even more time to treat Mom on her special day!

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As you wander through the tropical atmosphere finding all of the orchid treasures, be sure to stop and say ‘Hello’ to Malibu, the new Sulphur-crested Cockatoo! She will likely give you a loud ‘Hello’ right back and maybe show you some of her best dance moves! Malibu is quite a character and a welcome addition to the Conservatory. She and over 100 free flying exotic birds are sure to bring smiles to the whole family!

Lady Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedlium).

Also in May, come in for the next Walk in the Tropics talk. If you love orchids, don’t miss: Orchids Throughout the World, taking place on Wednesday, May 22 at 6:30. With over 30,000 species, orchids are the largest plant family in the world! Join Margaret Pratt, President of the Vancouver Orchid Society, in a discussion about these fascinating plants and their unique adaptations for tropical climates. You may just find out why many people develop serious ‘orchid addictions’. Registration is a must! For more information click here.

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And excitement for orchids does not stop there! The Rare and Exotic Orchid Show begins Friday, May 24th at 10am through Sunday, May 26th. This special event is a joint partnership with the Vancouver Orchid Society and is free with admission.  A must see for orchid aficionados! Members of the VOS grace the Conservatory with exquisite orchids from their own private collections and are on hand to answer all of your orchid questions. Don’t forget your camera! There will be a multitude of rare and unusual beauties for that picture perfect shot! May is all about orchids and more!

Save the dates and see you there!

A Walk in the Tropics is back at Bloedel!

The tremendously popular Walk in the Tropics series is back at the Bloedel Conservatory! Come out and join expert speakers as they discuss a variety of topics while strolling through the lush tropical atmosphere under the dome atop Queen Elizabeth park. It’s like a mini vacation with an educational twist!

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The first walk this season, ‘The Birds of Bloedel’, takes place on Wednesday, April 24th at 3:30. Education Director Janice Robson from the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary will share intriguing facts about each species at the Conservatory – from the large exotic Macaws and parrots to the small finches and budgies. Janice will also discuss the care required, diet considerations and tips for keeping your own feathered companions healthy and happy.

Cost to attend each walk is $10 for VanDusen members and $15 for non-members, which includes admission to the Conservatory. Pre-registration is a must! Register online, by phone, in person or by fax. Visit the VanDusen Botanical Garden Adult Education Registration page for all registration information, forms and course brochure. 

Mark your calendars!  This is a terrific series that you won’t want to miss!

A Walk in the Tropics Spring/Summer Schedule

art beauty 4smThe Birds of Bloedel

Wednesday April 24
3:30 – 4:30 pm

Janice Robson will introduce you to the variety of bird species that live in the Bloedel Conservatory. She is a wealth of knowledge and will share interesting facts and stories about all the species under the dome as well as great tips for your own feathered friends.

dancing ladies croppedOrchids Throughout the World

Wednesday May 22
6:30 – 7:30 pm

What makes tropical orchids so unique from most other tropical plants? How do they differ from their orchid cousins in colder regions? Join Margaret Pratt, President of the Vancouver Orchid Society, in a discussion about epiphytism and adaptations that make certain orchids suited to tropical climes.

holey philadendron smPlant Adaptations in the Tropics

Wednesday June 19
6:30 – 7:30 pm

Adaptations are specific features that allow plants to live in a variety of conditions around the world. Join this fascinating exploration of tropical specializations including types of bark, drip tips, prop and stilt roots, buttresses, epiphytes and how certain plants ward off predators. Instructor: Janet Canning, Capilano University

fiddlehead 2x3Healing Gardens

Wednesday July 17
6:30 – 7:30 pm

Join Dr. Aimeé Taylor, Horticultural Therapist, on a walk through the Bloedel Conservatory to discuss the healing and therapeutic benefits of spending time in green spaces. Discussion will include indoor plants for your home that provide clean air along with other benefits.

clyde great_smThe Birds of Bloedel

Wednesday August 21
6:30 – 7:30 pm

Jenny Tamas, Adoptions Director from the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, will introduce you to the variety of bird species that live in the Bloedel Conservatory. She will share interesting facts about each species, as well as the care required, diet considerations and tips for keeping your own feathered companions healthy and happy.

Conservatory Gets Great Funding News!

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Bloedel Conservatory seen from the Large Quarry Garden. Photo by Vicky Earle

On Friday morning, the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced a new Federal Government investment of $225,000 to complete phase 1 of the Bloedel Conservatory’s roof replacement project. This support is part of the Economic Action Plan 2012, under the Harper Government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) and is an important supplement to the City of Vancouver’s $1 million capital investment already designated for the new roof. Phase 1 of the project consists of replacing a percentage of the existing out of date roof panels and refurbishing the central ventilation fan at the top of the dome. This fan is key in controlling the variations in humidity necessary for the 3 different climatic zones found within Bloedel, a unique feature in the world of domed Conservatories.

funding announcement

Left to right: Director of Parks Bill Harding, Park Commissioner Niki Sharm, Emma Bolzner, Park Commissioner John Coupar, Honourable Lynne Yelich Minister of State, Vancouver Deputy Mayor Geoff Meggs and MP Andrew Saxton.

This public announcement was very well attended with great representation from the community, including garden staff and garden enthusiasts, VanDusen Botanical Garden Association/ Bloedel Committee members, Federal, City and Parks staff, and local MP Andrew Saxton (North Vancouver). Speakers included Vancouver Deputy Mayor Geoff Meggs, Park Commissioner Niki Sharma and Park Commissioner John Coupar. Honourable Yelich also invited 12 year old Emma Bolzner, an avid Bloedel Conservatory fundraiser and supporter, up to the podium to say a few words. What a great day and great news for the Bloedel Conservatory!

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Speaker: Park Commissioner John Coupar and past President of Friends of the Bloedel.

Home to hundreds of exotic plants and free flying birds, the Bloedel Conservatory is a unique horticultural treasure in the Vancouver Parks and Recreation system. Even with this funding boost, more money is still needed to complete the remaining phases of this important infrastructure project. All donations are welcomed, tax deductible and can be made online on the City of Vancouver’s secure website here: Help Restore the Bloedel Conservatory.

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Some of the inhabitants of the Bloedel Conservatory. Clockwise: Amazon lily, lady slipper orchids, Carmen and Maria, the green-winged macaws, orange-headed gouldian finch.

A Celebration of Nature!

New Exhibit at the Bloedel Conservatory!

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‘Circle of Light’ by James Fletcher, made of Portuguese Alabaster.

A Celebration of Nature – Flora and Fauna, is a group exhibit by the Sculptors’ Society of BC (SSBC). It is the very first event to take place at the Bloedel Conservatory since it joined with the VanDusen Botanical Garden at the beginning of the year!

The exhibit, opening Saturday February 9th, features more than 45 pieces of work by fifteen SSBC artists – all placed at key locations throughout the tropical atmosphere of the dome. A variety of materials such as bronze, copper, marble, granite, serpentine, exotic woods and terracotta have been used to create beautiful works of art celebrating nature. All pieces are for sale with partial proceeds going to benefit The Bloedel Conservatory.

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“Rain Drops” by Linda Schmidt in Bronze

Special presentations by SSBC member Jean-Guy Dallaire will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. Jean-Guy will be giving live demonstrations and discussing the methodology in creating sculptural works of art.

The SSBC is picking up a long tradition of linking art to the Bloedel Conservatory. Prentice Bloedel not only gifted the Conservatory to the City of Vancouver, he and his wife Virginia also donated the iconic bronze Henry Moore, ‘Knife-Edge Two Piece’.  They selected this sculpture to complement the dome because of Moore’s rapport with nature, enabling him to capture the intense power, beauty and freedom that Knife-Edge Two Piece portrays and to remind us of our interrelationship with nature. You can see Knife Edge situated next to the fountain on the plaza, next to the Conservatory.

“The observation of nature is part of an artist’s life, it enlarges his form [and] knowledge, keeps him fresh and from working only by formula… I find all natural forms are a source of unending interest.” ~ Henry Moore

The Celebration of Nature Exhibition is free with admission and takes place from February 9th to March 17th, 2013. The Bloedel Conservatory is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for rates.

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“Dragon” by Alex Schick in Bronze.

See you at the show!

Bloedel Conservatory is a Place that Matters!

In celebration of the Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary, the Heritage Vancouver Foundation is celebrating 125 Places that Matter within our fine city. The public nominated sites are to commemorate the people, places and events that are shaping Vancouver’s future and continue to tell the stories of Vancouver’s past. After public voting and site selection committee meetings, the final sites were chosen.

Bloedel places plaque present

Left to right: Karen Russell, Vancouver Heritage Foundation; John Coupar, past President, Friends of the Bloedel; Sarah Blyth, Commissioner Vancouver Park Board; Vicky Earle, President, Friends of the Bloedel

On December 15th, amid the festive Jewel Box of Lights, the Friends of the Bloedel were thrilled to be presented with the Places that Matter plaque #47. Harry Jongerden, Garden Director MC’ed the event. Minister of Health, the Honorable Margaret MacDiarmid and Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth both shared their thoughts about the importance of our tropical Conservatory to the citizens of Vancouver and how fortunate we are to have this oasis in our city.

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Vicky Earle, President of Friends of the Bloedel, spoke of the inspiration the Conservatory provides to all visitors, paid homage to visionary and philanthropist Prentice Bloedel, and shared with the group why the Conservatory is considered a healing garden. “The Bloedel Conservatory engages our senses and gives us reprieve from daily stress all year round. Visitors have shared their stories with me first hand. For example, cancer patients come here to recharge and regroup after radiation treatments; children with cerebral palsy and sensory overload issues come here because it is a safe and soothing haven; and it has helped a woman experiencing late onset blindness, who was depressed, bitter and fearful of the world outside her home … overcome her fear and anxiety and move more confidently in the world after a single visit. These stories to me are amazing and truly show that the Bloedel Conservatory is a Place that Matters in our community!”

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

John Coupar, past President of the Friends of Bloedel and Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, paid tribute to his father Charles Coupar who was the first Garden Director at the Conservatory and who helped plan and shape this iconic building into what it is today. John, then 13 years old, watched the Conservatory as it was built under the careful direction of Deputy Superintendent Bill Livingstone and Park Board Superintendent Stuart Lefeaux. He vividly remembers opening day back on December 6, 1969 – just 4 months after man landed on the moon. “I remember watching the dome’s construction ….first concrete… steel and aluminum followed by acrylic panels then finally the wonderment of Nature appeared. In that first year, more than 500,000 people visited and I witnessed a proud city which embraced nature and welcomed visitors to this special place.”

Bloedel Conservatory under construction.

Bloedel Conservatory under construction. Photo courtesy the Coupar family

Attendees at the ceremony included Park Board Commissioner Melissa DeGenova, former Vancouver City Councillor and Park Board Commissioner May Brown, former Vancouver City Councillor Marguerite Ford, former Park Board Commissioner Bill McCreery, former Park Board Commissioner Christopher Richardson and very special guest Stafford Buswell who was a long serving past Garden Director at the Bloedel Conservatory. Thank you all for coming out to this special day!

Harry Jongerden, Garden Director will soon install the Places that Matter plaque at the Conservatory for all to see!

In the meantime, don’t forget to visit the spectacular Jewel Box of Lights illuminating the Conservatory for the holidays! It is truly enchanting with twinkling waterfalls of light and magical lasers. Only the festive colours of the parrots can outshine the light show! Hope to see you there!

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