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!

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.

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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.

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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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Jewel Box of Lights Illuminates the Bloedel Conservatory!

Mark your calendars! The Bloedel Conservatory will again splash colour across Vancouver’s grey winter with holiday lights and the bright plumage of its exotic birds. The lush indoor landscape is exotic at any time of year, but the annual Jewel Box of Lights provides a stroll through the tropics with a holiday twist. Seasonal music, poinsettias and bright blooming Christmas cactus provide the context for a non-traditional holiday experience. Baby, if it’s cold outside, come to the Bloedel Conservatory!

To kick off the event in celebration of Bloedel’s 43rd Anniversary, the Friend’s of Bloedel are sponsoring a very special evening of entertainment beginning at 5:30pm on December 6th. Musical quartets will be singing songs of the season, a trio of tubas, a wonderful Santa dispensing individually wrapped European chocolates and very delicious Parrot sugar cookies with mulled apple cider – are all free with admission (while supplies last). Of course the lights will be magical! The gardeners have once again pulled out all the stops placing millions of twinkling lights and cascading waterfalls of sparkling lasers. A fun night of family entertainment for a great value!

The Friends of Bloedel will also be raising money to help the birds and boost new education programs at the Conservatory. Gorgeous poinsettias and orchids will be for sale along with a great raffle prize draw. Be sure to come out to support your favorite feathered friend!

It’s an event not to be missed!

DATE: Thursday, December 6, 2012 – January 1, 2013 (Closed December 25)

TIME: Doors open at 4:30pm – 9:00pm

Special Opening Night Entertainment: December 3 beginning at 5:30

LOCATION: Bloedel Conservatory: off West 33rd Avenue between Cambie and Main Streets at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC

COST: Adult $7; Senior/Youth (13-18) $5 ; Child (3-12) $3.50; Family (2 adults & children 3-18) $16.50. Group rates and commercial bus rates available.

Free parking will be available throughout Queen Elizabeth Park from 4:00pm for the duration of the event!

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

See you there!

Cool New Things Happening at the Bloedel Conservatory!

QR Code Smart Phone Tour

Spearheaded by Friends of Bloedel President, Vicky Earle, this new Smart Phone Self-Guided Tour is a QR code based pilot project that was 2 years in the making. “We wanted a platform to share more detail about the many fascinating stories held within this wonderful tropical oasis. There is so much to discover here! We hope people will enjoy exploring the site”. Enter the Conservatory and scan the QR code located in the gift shop with any smart phone (you may need to download a free reader), then navigate by using the subject tabs to discover detailed information, pictures, videos, and audio files for each of the stations provided. Future plans are to translate the site into multiple languages to reach a wider, more diverse audience. Stop in and try it out! We would love to hear your feedback!

New Logo and Front Entrance Graphic

The Bloedel Conservatory has a new logo! Take a stroll along the front plaza on the top of QE park and you will certainly notice the new dazzling graphic and elegant logo that now graces the entrance of the Bloedel Conservatory. Garden Director Harry Jongerden enlisted the expertise of creative strategist Karen Holyk to design the logo. Ms. Holyk and colleague Daniela Pilossof, environmental designer, were then commissioned to capture the essence held within the dome and transform it into a new graphic display for the front window. Photographs for the project were donated by Vicky Earle and Irmgard Carter. Be sure to go inside for a visit and see if you can find everything in the graphic!

Preparations for the Jewel Box of Lights are Underway!

In celebration of the Bloedel Conservatory’s 43rd Anniversary, this year’s Jewel Box of Lights will officially open December 6th at 4:30. Preparations are in full swing with gardeners and arborists pulling out all the stops to make this Jewel Box a delight! Mark your calendars as this is event should not to be missed! Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

New Sculptures Outside the Bloedel Conservatory!

Four new marble and granite sculptures by artist Cameron Kerr of Campbell River, have been installed at Queen Elizabeth Park plaza in front of the Bloedel Conservatory. The sculptures, inspired by modernist architecture, are beautifully carved, while the raw stone influenced the direction the pieces took during the sculpting process.

Kerr attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, Italy and took Master Classes with modernist British sculptors William Tucker and Anthony Gormley, Gormley being best known for the public sculpture ‘Angel of the North’ in the North of England. Mr. Kerr is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.

The sculptures, each weighing between 2,500 to 5,000 pounds apiece, were transferred from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza to Bloedel Conservatory viewing deck last weekend. The artwork was originally commissioned by the City Public Art Program to mark the Vancouver’s 125th anniversary. These sculptures are currently a temporary installation, but could become permanent artwork in Queen Elizabeth Park with approval from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

Butterflies at the Bloedel Conservatory?

Yes! Butterfly Orchids that is!

The Rare & Exotic Orchid Show is on NOW!

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

Come in an see a variety of lady slippers (paphiopedilum and phragmipedium), dancing ladies (oncidium), and the stunning butterfly orchid (psychopsis). And don’t miss the tiny orchids! They are some of the most delicate and spectacular specimens nature has created! One even smells like chocolate mint!

The show runs from September 28th until October 8th, 2012.

Lady Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum).

Members of the VOS will be on hand everyday from 11am to 3pm to answer questions you may have about orchid identification, repotting and maintenance.  They will also be conducting free orchid talks scheduled for 11am, 12noon and 2pm. Listen in and learn about this very diverse family of plants, how they grow in nature and why orchids have become such popular (and addictive) plants worldwide!

Dancing Lady Orchids (Oncidium)

Bloedel Conservatory Hours:

September 18th – April 30th: 10am – 5pm

Regular admission applies

See you there!

Tour de Biennale, the Panterragaffe and a Henry Moore at the Bloedel Conservatory

Bloedel Conservatory and Plaza Clock. Photo Vicky Earle.

The Bloedel Conservatory and Plaza Clock. Photo © Vicky Earle.

This Sunday morning August 19th, the 2nd annual Bike Tour of the Vancouver Biennale Sculptures will start at Queen Elizabeth Park and finish right at the Bloedel Conservatory: the geographic centre and highest point in our beautiful city! What a perfect place to end the tour!

The Panterragaffe. Photo courtesy Paul Lock.

The Panterragaffe. Photo courtesy Paul Lock.

For this special event, the Friends of  the Bloedel are very pleased to announce that the Panterragaffean interactive kinetic art piece and the first two person walking bike in the world, will be making a rare appearance on the Plaza outside the Bloedel Conservatory. The Biennale tour starts at 7am with entertainment and other festivities beginning at approximately 10am to welcome the cyclists and other visitors back to the plaza. Please come out and join in the fun!

Watch the Panterragaffe in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYdtWHvTdm4

Henry Moore, Knife Edge - Two Piece. Photo © Vicky Earle

Henry Moore, Knife Edge – Two Piece. Photo © Vicky Earle

Also not to be missed, is Henry Moore’s Knife Edge  – Two Piece, situated next to the plaza fountain by the Conservatory. Moore created this majestic bronze in 1962, and authorized three castings of the work. The first stands on Nelson Rockefeller’s New York estate, the second is found outside the House of Lords, London, England. The third Knife Edge was the first non-commemorative sculpture accepted by Vancouver’s Board of Parks and Recreation.

Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. Photo courtesy of Virginia Wright Bloedel

Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. Photo courtesy of Virginia Wright Bloedel.

Prentice Bloedel and his wife Virginia donated this piece to the City of Vancouver along with $1.4 million dollars to build the Bloedel Conservatory in 1969. They selected Knife Edge – Two Piece to tie the Conservatory dome and the design of the adjacent fountain plaza to the inspiration and power of nature.

Knife Edge - Two Piece, the fountain and the Bloedel Conservatory with the North Shore mountains in the background. Photo © Vicky Earle

Knife Edge – Two Piece, the Plaza Fountain and the Bloedel Conservatory with the North Shore mountains in the background. Photo © Vicky Earle

So, mark your calendars!

Plan to visit the Bloedel Conservatory on August 19th and enjoy the festivities on the Plaza.

It will be a great day!

Rare and Exotic Orchid Exhibit

January is typically the coldest month of the year, but not inside the tropical paradise of the Bloedel Conservatory!

Starting January 26th until February 6th, the bi-annual Rare & Exotic Orchid Exhibit will be on display! Brighten your day with breathtakingly vivid colors, exotic shapes, and a beauty that will leave you starring!

Put on in partnership with the Vancouver Orchid Society, shake off the winter blues and be sure to stop in for a visit! Regular hours: 10am to 5pm. Volunteers from the VOS will be offering FREE Orchid Tours three times a day (11am, 12 noon, 2pm). They will also be on hand between 11am to 3pm, ready to answer any questions you may have about growing, potting, and identifying these little jewels. Learn a little, see a lot, but don’t miss this fantastic event!

Here’s a preview of what you might see:

Butterfly Orchids

Lady Slippers

Dancing Ladies

Cattleyas

Odontoglossums

And Orchids that smell like chocolate mint! YUM

Regular admission applies.

See you there!

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