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

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.