6 Features of a Healing Garden

Dealing with Stress

Many of us consider daily stress just a typical part of life. But did you know that 75% of all doctor visits are stress related? Stress weakens the immune system and lowers its ability function properly. Medical research is seeing a direct link between stress and serious issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, peptic ulcers, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety attacks, and chronic pain to name a few.

According to Smith, Jaffe–Gill, and Segal (2009), in Understanding StressThe body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body.

Nature Nurturing Health

Thankfully, there is good news. A growing body of research is showing the importance and benefits of nature and green spaces on health – specifically in this very important area of stress reduction. Being active in a garden promotes both physical and mental well-being, but you don’t need to get your hands dirty to reap the benefits of time spent in a garden! “Passive recreation” is just as beneficial. Roger Ulrich, a professor and director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A & M University, has stated, the term “healing garden” refers to actual features that consistently help us recover from stress and have other positive influences on the body.

Immediate benefits associated with shifting to a calm state are decreases in blood pressure and the lowering of stress hormone levels in the body. These are things that impact our moods and foster a sense of tranquility, serenity and peacefulness. Ulrich found that viewing natural scenes or elements fosters stress recovery by evoking positive feelings, reducing negative emotions, effectively holding attention / interest, and blocking or reducing stressful thoughts. They have a regenerative and energizing effect on the body. According to Eckerling (1996), a healing garden makes people feel safe, less stressed, more comfortable and even invigorated.

Engaging the Senses

A healing garden will engage the senses and the Bloedel Conservatory does just that. The most obvious of these is using our sense of sight, but smell, touch, taste and auditory input can all be present. When you first walk into any garden, stop for a moment, shut your eyes and just listen. What do you hear? Wind rustling the leaves, birds singing, or perhaps running water? Take a deep breath. This in itself will help tension fade away and is why practices like yoga, tai chi and meditation focus on breath awareness. As you start to walk through the Conservatory, don’t be afraid to touch the leaves and bark on trees. What does it feel like? Smooth, rough, textured? Maybe there is a flower nearby to smell? Be present in the moment and let any tension start to unwind.

When we asked Dr. Aimée Taylor, Vancouver Horticultural Therapist, if the Bloedel Conservatory qualified as a healing garden, she responded that evidence based research has shown that we gain positive effects on our emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and social well being from being exposed to nature or horticultural activities. “A healing garden should be accessible to all, have beneficial effects on people using the garden, and provide a place of retreat and respite from daily life. Yes, Bloedel can be considered a healing garden!”

So, What are 6 Features of a Healing Garden?

1. Flowers


In a study at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Dr. Haviland-Jones has found that nature provides us with a simple way to improve emotional health – this would be flowers of course! “The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behaviour in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.” They found that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness and a long-term positive effect on moods.

2. Lush vegetation

Ulrich has found that viewing vegetation as opposed to urban scenes, changes our brain waves from beta waves (13 to 60 pulses/sec.) to a slower alpha wave (7 to 13 pulses/sec) that are associated with being “wakefully relaxed”. Being in “beta” is considered the norm for most people while in their everyday waking state. We emit beta waves when we are consciously alert, or when we feel agitated, tense or afraid. Alpha waves, however, are associated with states of mental and physical relaxation, and our brains drop into “alpha” during the first levels of meditation. Creativity, inspiration and intuition are often heightened by being in an “alpha state”.

3. Spatial openness

One of the first things you notice when you enter the Conservatory is the feeling of space. This in itself is relaxing. Its domed design is based on the geodesic principle that utilizes a structural space-frame to support the roof. This enables the large interior volume to be free of internal supporting columns. The added benefit of Bloedel is that it is an Indoor Nature Facility that can be enjoyed all year, rain or shine!

4. Calm or slowing moving water

The sound of gently moving water has an inherent calming effect on our systems and we feel a natural affinity to it. It adds dimension and harmony to our surroundings. “The sound of running water, apparently, is a genetic memory that sends off resonances deep within our limbic brain stem which also controls such basic actions as our breathing and hunger” (James Kilkelly).  The sound of moving water is very relaxing and it has been found to enhance concentration. Interestingly, running water in Feng Shui is felt to strengthen good fortune.

5. Large trees

Have you ever felt refreshed after walking through a forest? This is called ‘forest bathing’ and physiological tests in Japan confirm positive therapeutic effects of this activity on stress hormones, brain wave activity, pulse and blood pressure. Studies in Tokyo have shown increased immune function after 2 hour walks in the forest. There is no shortage of large trees at Bloedel. In fact, a number of these were the first to be planted in the dome in 1969 and now reach over 60 feet in height. The Benjamin and India Figs, the Dragon trees, and Brazilian Jelly Palm are just a few of the stunning trees you will see and walk among.

6. Unthreatening wildlife

With over 100 free-flying birds and the antics of exotic parrots and macaws (not to mention the colourful Japanese Koi lazily swimming in the pond), one of them will surely bring a smile to your face! Wildlife distracts us from stress and negative thoughts about issues in our lives, even if only temporarily. It is impossible to think of two things simultaneously! Find a quiet spot at the conservatory and sit for a few minutes. Notice what’s around you. Take a deep breath. You won’t wait long before you start to notice the free flying birds busy with their day: building a nest, looking for food, chasing each other around the vast space. The secretive and exotic Touraco may even make an appearance and capture your interest!

Visiting the Bloedel Conservatory will give you a boost regardless of the weather outside. Bring a book, a sketchpad, your camera, or simply come and sit on a bench. It will soothe your senses and re-energize your day!

_________________________________________________

References

Smith, Jaffe–Gill, and Segal (2009), Understanding Stress: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Effects. http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

Haviland-Jones, Jeanette (2005). Emotional Impact of Flowers Study. Rutgers: Flowers Improve Emotional Health http://www.aboutflowers.com/health-benefits-a-research/emotional-impact-of-flowers-study.html

University of Minnesota, Sustainable Urban Land Information Series (2006). Healing Gardens. http://www.sustland.umn.edu/design/healinggardens.html

Brain Waves http://www.doctorhugo.org/brainwaves/brainwaves.html

Kilkelly, James (2006), Water Works … the Benefits of Water Features. Irishgardeners.com http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/about729.html

Japan for Sustainability. (2010) Physiological Tests Confirm Therapeutic Effects of ‘Forest Bathing’. http://www.japanfs.org/en/pages/025839.html

Q and Morimoto, et al. (2007). Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. Apr-Jun;20(2 Suppl 2):3-8. Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17903349

Celebrate National Garden Day!

Bloedel under purple sky_sm

Just in time for Father’s Day, Canada’s Inagural National Garden Day draws attention to public and private gardens across the country! Garden Days (June 13 – 15) celebrate the role of gardens in our communities and in our lives. The program’s objective is to draw attention to Canada’s garden culture, its history and innovations, and to underscore the important values of gardening and environmental stewardship. When the Bloedel Conservatory opened in December, 1969, Prentice Bloedel dedicated this green jewel “to a better appreciation and understanding of the world of plants”. It has been connecting people with the magic of the tropics ever since!

As a matter of fact, the Bloedel Conservatory has all of the aspects of a healing garden! Being active in a garden promotes both physical and mental well-being, but you don’t need to get your hands dirty to reap the benefits of time spent in a garden! “Passive recreation” is just as beneficial. Roger Ulrich, a professor and director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A & M University, has stated, the term “healing garden” refers to actual features that consistently help us recover from stress and have other positive influences on the body.

What are the 6 features of a healing garden you ask? Read on!

1. Flowers

V.Earle orange hibiscus

‘Stop and smell the flowers’. In a study at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Dr. Haviland-Jones has found that nature provides us with a simple way to improve emotional health – which is as simple as enjoying flowers! “The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behaviour in a positive manner far beyond what was previously believed.” They found that flowers – any flowers – have an immediate impact on happiness and a long-term positive effect on moods. The Conservatory always has a selection of orchids and other gorgeous blooms on display.

2. Lush vegetation

koi in river great sm

Ulrich has found that viewing vegetation as opposed to urban scenes, changes our brain waves from beta waves to a slower alpha wave that are associated with being “wakefully relaxed”. Being in “beta” is considered the norm for most people while in their everyday busy waking state. We emit beta waves when we are consciously alert, or when we feel agitated, stressed or afraid. Alpha waves, however, are associated with states of mental and physical relaxation. Our brains drop into “alpha” during the first levels of meditation. Creativity, inspiration and intuition are often heightened by being in an “alpha state” simply by spending time appreciating nature.

3. Spatial openness

bridge again

One of the first things you notice when you enter the Conservatory is the feeling of space. Its domed design is based on the geodesic principle that utilizes a structural space-frame to support the roof. This enables the large interior volume to be free of internal supporting columns. The added benefit of Bloedel is that it is an Indoor Nature Facility that can be enjoyed all year, rain or shine!

4. Calm or slowly moving water

waterfall

The sound of gently moving water has an inherent calming effect on our systems and we feel a natural affinity to it. It adds dimension and harmony to our surroundings. “The sound of running water, apparently, is a genetic memory that sends off resonances deep within our limbic brain stem which also controls such basic actions as our breathing and hunger” (James Kilkelly). The sound of moving water is very relaxing and it has been found to enhance concentration. Interestingly, running water in Feng Shui is felt to strengthen good fortune.

5. Large trees

cecropia tree_250

Have you ever felt refreshed after walking through a forest? This is called ‘forest bathing’ and physiological tests in Japan confirm positive therapeutic effects of this activity on stress hormones, brain wave activity, pulse and blood pressure. Studies in Tokyo have shown increased immune function after 2 hour walks in the forest. There is no shortage of large trees at Bloedel. In fact, a number of these were the first to be planted in the dome in 1969 and now reach over 60 feet in height. The Benjamin and India Figs, the Dragon trees, and Brazilian Jelly Palm are just a few of the stunning trees you will see and walk among.

6. Unthreatening wildlife

Art awesome_sm

With over 100 free-flying birds and the antics of exotic parrots and macaws (not to mention the new Japanese Koi lazily swimming in the pond), one of them will surely bring a smile to your face! Wildlife distracts us from stress and negative thoughts about issues in our lives. It is impossible to think of two things simultaneously! Even a short break from stress is beneficial. Find a quiet spot at the conservatory and sit for a few minutes. Notice what’s around you. Take a deep breath. You won’t wait long before you start to notice the free flying birds busy with their day: building a nest, looking for food, chasing each other around the vast space. The secretive and exotic Touraco may even make an appearance and capture your interest!

Award_of_Excellence2014-1

Visiting the Bloedel Conservatory will give you a boost regardless of the weather outside.

Why not treat Dad to a Bloedel visit for Father’s Day and see why it received the 2014 Trip Advisor Award of Excellence? Bring a camera, go for a stroll, chat with the colourful birds, or simply come and relax on a bench. The whole family will feel re-energized! Happy Father’s Day and wishing all a very Happy Garden Day!

References

Smith, Jaffe–Gill, and Segal (2009), Understanding Stress: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Effects. http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

Haviland-Jones, Jeanette (2005). Emotional Impact of Flowers Study. Rutgers: Flowers Improve Emotional Health http://www.aboutflowers.com/health-benefits-a-research/emotional-impact-of-flowers-study.html

University of Minnesota, Sustainable Urban Land Information Series (2006). Healing Gardens. http://www.sustland.umn.edu/design/healinggardens.html

Brain Waves http://www.doctorhugo.org/brainwaves/brainwaves.html

Kilkelly, James (2006), Water Works … the Benefits of Water Features. Irishgardeners.com http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/about729.html

Japan for Sustainability. (2010) Physiological Tests Confirm Therapeutic Effects of ‘Forest Bathing’. http://www.japanfs.org/en/pages/025839.html

Q and Morimoto, et al. (2007). Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. Apr-Jun;20(2 Suppl 2):3-8. Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17903349

Special Mother’s Day Event at the Bloedel Conservatory!

Looking for a unique venue to delight Mom on Mother’s Day?

Treat her to a special day at the Bloedel Conservatory and Queen Elizabeth Park on May 10th!

red white_odontoglossum sm copy

The Bloedel Conservatory is now on Summer Hours and just in time for Mother’s Day! There will be much to do for the whole family! Not only is the Conservatory a healing garden – a magical place to unwind and relax in the lush atmosphere of the tropics, we’ve assembled a treat package that you can pre-purchase for Mom to receive when she arrives on Mother’s Day. This $28 package includes one adult admission to the Conservatory, special treats from Truffles Fine Foods, Daniel’s Chocolates, Barefoot Venus, and Evian, plus an exclusive silver Umay pendant ($20 value shown below) designed by the Katami Studio. “Umay” is Turkish for Hope and was also a goddess offering luck. This pendant was formed from a raw and imperfect seashell and each is cast by hand to ensure the finest quality.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 9.17.55 AM

Stations will also be set up around the Conservatory during the event: Learn all about orchids and their care with Vancouver Orchid Society specialist Margaret Pratt; Visit the craft table for kids so they can plant a starter herb and create their own Mother’s Day card to gift to Mom; Artists from the Katami Design Studio will be hosting a jewellery trunk show and eat or visit Season’s in the Park Restaurant for brunch or dinner. So much to do! And don’t forget to bring your camera. The park gardens are stunning with spring blossoms and the chatty parrots at the Bloedel Conservatory are sure to delight the entire family. A very lovely day to celebrate Mom!

Advanced purchase for the Mother’s Day Treat Package required: Contact bloedelevents@vancouver.ca

or buy online: HERE

 The Conservatory is open until 8pm. Mother’s Day Special Event hours: 10am – 4pm

Regular admission applies. Walk-ins welcome. Wheelchair accessible.

Adults (19-64) $6.50     Seniors (65+) $4.50      Youth (13-18) $4.50      Child (3– 12) $3.25      Family  $15

orange headed gouldian

Bloedel Conservatory Summer Hours:

Monday – Friday: 9am – 8pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 9pm

Also brand new for the summer months: Health and Wellness Programs are now scheduled at Bloedel.

Join instructor Shelagh Smith on May 21st, June 18th, or July 16th, 2015 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm for the Rapt in Nature Tropical Walk Series.

Nature plays a profound and essential role in our health, happiness and productivity. Learn about the evidence-based benefits of enjoying nature and try out mindful and playful techniques to deepen your connection to plants, birds and ecological systems. Ms. Smith is a registered horticultural therapist who has developed and facilitated horticultural therapy programs since 1994 for a variety of participant groups, including residents in long-term care, people with disabilities, street-involved youth living in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, people with mental health issues, and healthcare providers. Enjoy this guided walk with Ms. Smith in the warmth and beauty of the Bloedel Conservatory. Price: Member: $10 / Non-member: $15

Purchase tickets online at Eventbrite

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!

bridge at Bloedel Conservatory

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!

white sculpture

‘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.

amazon lily

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!

roof circle2

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!

african starling great 3.5

African Starling at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © Vicky Earle

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!

v.earle_red macaw.5x5

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.

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.

plaque Bloedel Conservatory_sm

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!

Jewel box 2012_cropped

6 Top Reasons to Visit the Jewel Box of Lights!

“Bloedel is a Jewel Box as are the stars, and at Queen Elizabeth Park, you can almost touch the heavens on a clear night” ~ T. Clark

#1:  It’s Warm Inside!

Take a break from the rainy winter weather outside! Step inside, shed your rain jacket and take in the lush tropical wonderland. It’s like a mini-trip to a Costa Rica without the expense of a plane ticket!

#2: The new expanded Light Display is magical!

The staff at Bloedel pulled out all the stops for the 41st Anniversary of the Conservatory! The tropical plant kingdom under the dome has been transformed into a glowing magical masterpiece! Twinkling waterfalls of lights and special laser effects are a must see this year. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate from The Blue Parrot Coffee Hut outside and come in to enjoy the show. To see the lights at their full brilliance, plan a visit at 4 pm or later. Extended hours are in effect until January 2nd: Sunday – Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm; Friday – Saturday 10 am – 9 pm.

#3: It’s Unique!

“I’ve walked around this pathway multiple times today and I see something new every single time!”

This was a common comment from visitors last Sunday at our Opening Event! The gardeners at Bloedel have worked very hard to keep plant displays top notch this season. Just like a real rainforest, there is so much to see! Not only are the lights spectacular,  but look high up in the trees! See real papaya, figs and bananas growing, then see if you can find the poinsettias with rhinestones on the tips of their petals. Of course the free flying birds are always on the move, so you are likely to spot one that you have not seen before.

#4: The Conservatory is great for kids of all ages!

Children and seniors especially love Bloedel because you can get up close to the beautiful and exotic birds! See Clyde, the rare Eastern Rosella Parrot, happily munch an apple at the feeding station, while many of the Zebra finches, Laughing Thrushes, and colourful Chinese Pheasants wander along the pathway. Perfect to stop and take photos of our beautiful feathered friends. And we encourage you to stop and smell the flowers!

Bloedel is fully wheelchair accessible, so it’s easy to sit close to the parrots and macaws and watch their antics or have a chat! Handy Bird Guides and Scavenger Hunts are available at the front counter. A trip to Bloedel is a great outing for the whole family!

#5: Destress during the holidays!

Feeling exhausted and stressed from holiday preparations? Did you know Bloedel is a healing garden? Not only are the festive lights a joy to look at, but hearing the sound of the waterfall, the birds happily chattering, and taking in the warmth and greenery of the dome will naturally unwind and relax you. Studies show spending time in gardens and green space not only lowers your blood pressure, but it actually decreases stress hormones in your body! Come for a visit, find a bench, take a deep breath and re-charge your energy!

#6: The price is right!

This is the best admission price in the city of Vancouver! $5.35 for Adults; Seniors & Youth $3.75; Kids 6-12  $2.70; Preschoolers – Free. Be sure to enter from the 33rd and Ontario Street entrance to avoid the construction.


The Jewel Box of Lights Event runs until January 2nd, 2011

Sunday – Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm

Friday – Saturday: 10 am – 9 pm

Come in and see us today!