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.

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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

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

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.

Plant of the Month

Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium)

The Tea Tree, or Manuka Tree (Leptospermum scoparium), is now in blossom at the Bloedel Conservatory! These tiny unassuming flowers are quite extraordinary. Not only are they beautiful, they also have tremendous healing properties!

The Tea Tree is a shrub or small tree in the Myrtle (Myrtaceae family). It is native to New Zealand, but can also be found in Tasmania and southeast Australia. The Māori people discovered long ago that this plant is beneficial for a number of digestive and respiratory ailments. The word manuka is derived from the Māori language ‘mānuka’. The Manuka flower nectar contains a particular chemical that, when mixed with an enzyme from pollinating bees, produces Manuka Honey back at the beehive.

Honey (in general) was originally used for medical purposes due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, but was replaced by antibiotics and other forms of traditional medicine in the 1940s and 1950s. Recent studies have shown that wounds heal more rapidly with dressings that contained Manuka honey because of its high level of non-peroxide antibacterial components.

In January 2008 Professor Thomas Henle from the University of Dresden in Germany, identified methylglyoxal methylglyoxal (or MGO) as the active compound.1,2  This is now shown on products as MGO Manuka honey. What is unique about Manuka is that unlike prescription antibiotics, it is effective on a very wide range of bacterial and fungal infections. Research shows that Manuka does not damage cells, but actually stimulates the growth of cells to repair wounds!3

Manuka honey is also edible. It is darker and richer than clover honey and has a distinctive sweet taste. Manuka can be used for sore throats, indigestion, heartburn, peptic ulcers and other stomach/intestinal problems as well as to boost the immune system. Similar properties led the Māori of New Zealand to use parts of this plant as natural medicine. The Tohunga, or Maori medicine man, used the parts of the Manuka bush for treating fevers, colds, flu, stomach aches and as a sedative.4

Leptospermum scoparium flowers, photo Creative Commons

An interesting story was found in the journals of Captain Cook.5,6 Apparently, he used the leaves of these trees to make tea (and beer), and so named this tree: ‘Tea Tree’.  The name stuck! It was later found that it was effective against scurvy due to its high vitamin C content. There is another tree called a Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), from which the leaves are used to make Tea Tree oil. This is gaining popularity for its antiseptic, antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral properties. It is believed Cook also used the leaves from this tree when he journeyed to Australia, and also dubbed the Melaleuca as the “Tea Tree”.

Wood from the Manuka tree is very strong and is often used to make handles for tools, while the sawdust delivers a delicious flavour when used to smoke meats and fish.6 One last interesting fact about this incredible tree is that New Zealand parakeets or Kakariki (Cyanoramphus) have been known to use the leaves and bark of Manuka tree to rid themselves of parasites. Apart from ingesting the material, they also chew it, mix it with preen gland oil and apply it to their feather.4,6

Be sure to stop by the Conservatory and see this amazing little tree in blossom for yourself!

_________________________________________________________

References:

1. Mavric, E., Wittmann, S., Barth, G., Henle, T., (2008). Identification and quantification of methylglyoxal as the dominant antibacterial constituent of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honeys from New Zealand. University Dresden, Germany 2008-01-21. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mnfr.200700282/abstract

2. The University of Waikato, Department of Biological Sciences, (2006). Waikato Honey Research Unit. http://bio.waikato.ac.nz/honey/honey_intro.shtml

3. Biotechnology Learning Lab, (2007). Mānuka honey for wounds. http://www.biotechlearn.org.nz/focus_stories/honey_to_heal/video_clips/manuka_honey_for_wounds_v0314

4. Grace, T. (2011). Healing Manuka Honey. http://hubpages.com/hub/Active-Manuka-Honey

5. Wikipedia.org (2011). Leptospermum scoparium. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptospermum_scoparium – cite_note-0

6. Shop New Zealand, (2010). Active Manuka Honey. http://www.shopnewzealand.co.nz/en/cp/Manuka_Honey_Product_Information

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

Nurturing Children’s Health Through Nature

Join us for a Public Forum!

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Friends of Bloedel member Dr. Aimée Taylor, Horticultural Therapist, has been invited to speak about the health aspects of the Bloedel Conservatory as an Indoor Nature Facility. The Stanley Park Ecology Society and Commissioner Loretta Woodcock are co-hosting this public discussion forum on Nature & Children’s Health August 29, 2 – 4pm at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Speakers on the panel also include Dr. Randall White, M.D.; Becs Hoskins, Executive Director of the Child Nature Alliance; Kristine Webber, Executive Director of the Young Naturalists Club; Roger Keyes, Public Programs Manager, Stanley Park Ecology Society; and Alana Bliss, Quest University.

As you know, the City of Vancouver has created an Action Plan for becoming the world’s Greenest city by 2020, recognizing that green spaces play crucial roles in supporting people’s health by providing wildlife habitat and critical connections with nature, especially for children. With the park board embarking upon a new strategic planning process later this fall, Commissioner Woodcock sees value in putting these concepts into the next Park Board strategic plan. If successful, this could generate future capital and operating dollars to support horticultural initiatives and create programs/resources throughout all parks and gardens in Vancouver (including the Bloedel Conservatory!).

This is a terrific opportunity to learn about current programs in and around our city and inspire the sharing of knowledge on this important but often overlooked topic. Join in this public forum and engage the speakers during the Q & A period after the presentations. Refreshments will be provided.  This looks to be an important stepping stone for future programs and initiatives!  See you there! (Click Here for Map).

See also the article in Vancouver Sun regarding the event: Nature as Therapy: It’s as Old as the Hills