Mark Your Calendars! The Bloedel Conservatory turns 45!

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Come out & Join the the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Bloedel Conservatory on Saturday, December 6th

Caribbean Steel Drum rhythms will be the backdrop for a FREE DAY of festivities, including cake and refreshments, face painting, Hawaiian dancers, souvenir photos, plus Roving Docents will be on hand to share unique and interesting stories of the plants and birds that call Bloedel home. Parking is also free in the top parking lot at Queen Elizabeth Park from 10am – 4pm. It will be an all-around fun, family friendly day!

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The Bloedel Conservatory is significant for its historical, symbolic, cultural, and social values, and particularly for its use of technologies and building methods which were quite advanced for its time in 1969. The Conservatory, the fountain and the surrounding plaza were all designed to work together and with specific goals to show man’s connection to nature. The curving lines of the fountain harmonize with the Conservatory dome, while the leaping fountains add vertical movement to mirror distant trees. The dome structure, with its absence of interior supporting columns, was chosen to provide an unobstructed view of the exotic gardens within. The Bloedel Conservatory won the prestigious Vincent Massey Award for Excellence in Urban Environment in 1971, is a ‘Class A’ Heritage Building and is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Don’t forget your cameras! There will be lots of great photo opportunities. We look forward to seeing you there!

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When? Saturday, December 6th; 10am – 4pm

Where? Bloedel Conservatory, Queen Elizabeth Park

Who? Everyone!

Admission? Free

 

The Bloedel Conservatory Inspires Poetry!

Orange Bishop Weaver finch

Orange Bishop Weaver Finch. Photo by Vicky Earle

“arching fronds

of the Madagascar palm—

darting finches”

by Brenda Larsen, VHG member

 Haiku poetry is defined as:

a short poem, usually of three lines, that originated from Japan. It is one of the most well known forms of poetry in the world today, written by people in many different countries.

The Bloedel Conservatory, our domed tropical oasis at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, has become a muse for many artists in a variety of disciplines. Members of the Vancouver Haiku Group (VHG) recently met at the Conservatory for a haiku walk that included self-guided tours.

Haiku is inspired by an emotional, sensory awareness of the world around us. To gain fresh perspectives for their writing, haiku poets often gather for walks (referred to as ginko walks) at special locations known for their beauty and/or historical significance. Members of the VHG participate in workshops, public readings and walks throughout the year to inspire and support the writing of haiku. Dr. Gabi Greve, author of World Kigo Database (WKD), refers to a haiku walk on her blog as a Ginkoo and breaks the word Ginkoo into two parts: gin means singing, praising, making a poem and koo means walking. A kigo is a word that indicates the season in which the haiku takes place.

Marianne J. Dupre, a member of the VHG, who lives near and is a frequent visitor of Queen Elizabeth Park, describes a beautiful haiku walk through the Bloedel Conservatory:

Entrance to the Bamboo Bridge in the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo by Vicky Earle

Entrance to the Bamboo Bridge in the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo by Vicky Earle

Haiku on the hilltop

It was a glorious day to be inspired. After weeks of rain, it was the first real day of spring and I was out to enjoy the warmth of the sun. High above the sounds of city traffic, the hilltop was alive with activity. Children were on bicycles and skateboards, mothers and fathers pushed babies in strollers, while teens captured in-the-moment selfies on their cell phones. Even a few beaming brides and grooms strolled across my path in search of the ideal scenic backdrop for wedding album photos.

If the day wasn’t glorious enough to write about, the Bloedel Conservatory teased the muse in me. A wave of damp, earthy heat met me as I entered the front door, and the tropical city jungle was mine to explore. Rich green palms towered ahead of me, their fronds fanning the pathway, while exotic finches trilled in the treetops. Water flowed low beneath bamboo bridges, trickling into small pools with bright orange Japanese koi. Silver coins, reflecting sunlight from the glass roof, winked at me below the ripples of a pool. Along the path a small wooden waterwheel thumped and splashed steadily, feeding a small meandering stream.

Lost in my own awareness of sight, sound, and scent, I set off, my every step giving me pause for reflection. The scent of hyacinth was in the air, along with squawks from jewel-toned parrots grooming themselves, and the lighthearted sounds of children’s laughter.

I recognized houseplants we had at home like palms, ficus, bromeliads, philodendrons and corn plants, all more rich in colour, texture and size in an environment similar to their native habitat. Pastel tulips and delicate white lilies seemed to sigh open as I passed by, and brilliant azalea shrubs dazzled me with their bold hues.

On a drawbridge a girl scampered across to meet her mother, pausing for just a moment to feel the sway of the ropes. A shy boy tentatively sat next to me on a bench beneath a rubber tree then grinned on cue for his father’s camera. Another little girl talked sweetly to a branch full of small birds, coaxing them to answer her back. She didn’t notice the silver pheasant poised, confident and curious on the path behind her.

I pulled a notebook and pen from my bag, and focused my camera to record impressions that would define what my senses had captured. I lingered for more than two hours, circling the paths time and again, seeking details that may have been overlooked. Finally, with my head full of sensory images, I sat outside at the edge of the Dancing Waters fountain to write. While deep in thought, the gradual rise of jetted fountain water applauded my efforts.

More Haiku inspired by self-guided tours under the dome

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Rosie, African Grey Parrot. Photo by Vicky Earle

 

red-tailed Rosie says

I love you . . .

candy corn beak

by Angela J. Naccarato

 

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

 

a child

asks for a piggyback ride—

strangler fig

by Jessica Tremblay

 

Carmen and Maria, Green Winged Macaws at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo by Vicky Earle

Carmen and Maria, Green Winged Macaws at the Bloedel Conservatory

 

under a wet palm leaf

the macaw munches berries

the click of the shutter

by Lynne Jambor

 

If you are interested in joining the Vancouver Haiku Group, new members are welcome. Currently, the VHG includes members from Vancouver and surrounding areas who meet once a month to share and discuss haiku and welcome people who are interested in learning about and writing haiku. As a member of the VHG you will learn to write contemporary English-speaking and experimental haiku through a variety of exercises. Discussions about the structure and form of haiku are based on contemporary English-style and traditional Japanese-style haiku. Membership is open to all people who are interested in writing haiku. For further information about the Vancouver Haiku Group or queries regarding membership, forward an email to Angela J. Naccarato, facilitator for the Vancouver Haiku Group, at angelan@telus.net. You can also follow VHG on Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Vancouver-Haiku-Group/1571492576409446.

A very big thank you goes to Angela Naccarato and the members of the VHG for sharing their poetry and making this post possible. The Bloedel Conservatory is open everyday (except Christmas day). Why not grab your camera, sketch or notebook and come be inspired! The muse beckons …

Bloedel Bird Guide Now Online

We are pleased to offer the newly updated Bloedel Conservatory Bird Watcher’s Checklist online! It’s free to download or simply bookmark the link below and pull it up on your Smartphone or tablet when you visit the Conservatory. We have lots of new birds. Come by soon to see Bearded Reedlings, Roul Roul Partridges (and their babies), Pekin Robins and of course all of your favorite feathered friends. Enjoy!

Bloedel Bird Watcher’s Checklist: Click link to Download

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Come Join Us! The ‘We Did It! Bubble Bash’ is on!

The completed new Bloedel Conservatory roof from above. Photo courtesy Wayne Dueck, Spectrum Skyworks.

The completed new Bloedel Conservatory roof from above. Photo courtesy Wayne Dueck, Spectrum Skyworks.

The work is done, the scaffolding is down and the Bloedel Conservatory has a gorgeous new roof!

It’s time to Celebrate!

Please join us for the We Did It! Bubble Bash taking place September 25, 2014 at the Bloedel Conservatory. Not only are we celebrating this significant renovation, we are also raising funds for new education and interpretation programs at the Conservatory.

Complex scaffolding covered the dome for 7 months while the roof replacement took place. Photo by Vicky Earle

Complex scaffolding covered the dome for 7 months while the roof replacement took place. Photo by Vicky Earle

Thanks to the fantastic teams at Spectrum Skyworks, Pacific Ropes, WestCan Scaffolding and a specialized Hazmat crew, this complex project was completed in just 7 months – a full 2 months ahead of schedule, making the dome as pristine as the day it opened nearly 45 years ago. The scaffolding, which covered the dome completely, was the largest project of it’s kind in North America and took 7 weeks to dismantle.

Specialized Rope Access team from Pacific Ropes Ltd. preparing to hang netting from the triodetic aluminum framework. Photo by Vicky Earle

Specialized Rope Access team from Pacific Ropes Ltd. preparing to hang netting from the triodetic aluminum framework. Photo by Vicky Earle

 

Re-establishing the Bloedel Conservatory as a visitor friendly, year-round destination is key to provide learning opportunities for all ages, connecting people to the world of plants, birds and the rainforest.

Please join us to celebrate the completion of this incredible project and to reconnect with the magic of the Bloedel Conservatory. There will be fantastic food provided by Season’s in the Park and Crown Street Catering, incredible tropical cocktail creations provided by Victoria Gin, CArribean rhythms by steel drum band Soul Survivors, great raffle prizes, free parking for event guests and more.

Don’t wait! Tickets are selling fast!

Tickets and further details are available on-line at: http://www.wediditbubblebash.com

And in person at Southlands Nursery: 6550 Balaclava St, Vancouver, 604-261-6411.

We look forward to seeing you!

A very Special Thank you goes out to the generous Sponsors who have made this event possible: Spectrum Skyworks, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, Kingswood Capital Corporation, Intergulf Development Group, Focus Real Estate, Season’s in the Park Restaurant, Holly North, Victoria Gin, and Pace Group.

 

 

The Bloedel Conservatory Has a New Roof!!

Bird’s eye view of Vancouver from atop the Bloedel Conservatory.

Six months after the intricate and impressive scaffolding was installed by WestCan over the dome, all 1,490 plexiglass panels have been successfully replaced and the Bloedel Conservatory has a new roof!

This scaffolding was unique in many ways: it could not touch the dome at any point, and transparent, protective plastic sheets needed to be stretched up and over the top to keep workers, birds, plants and visitors dry while the plexi bubbles were being replaced. Watch a special time lapsed video here. Rope access technicians worked through the wee hours of the night whenever specialized interior netting needed to be installed or moved. This netting kept debris from falling into the dome and nearly 200 free flying birds from finding their way out.

Rope crews getting ready to hang netting inside the dome.

Thanks to the fantastic teams at Spectrum Skyworks and Pacific Ropes, not to mention a specialized Hazmat crew, this massive project was completed a full 2 months ahead of schedule! Special kudos also go out to the onsite Bloedel staff who managed to keep the Conservatory open, running smoothly and looking spectacular while this substantial project was underway.

Originally planned as a 3 phase project, we are so fortunate that the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, the Federal Government and Prentice Bloedel’s Daughter, Virginia Bloedel Wright, came together with $2.4 million dollars in funding to complete the entire roof project in one phase.

All 2,324 pieces of extruded aluminum tubing that make up the triodetic dome have been polished and the scaffolding has started to be dismantled. The Bloedel Conservatory has been restored to its former glory and brilliance!

And mark your calendars! The “We Did It! Bubble Bash”, a fantastic roof completion celebration party is scheduled for Thursday, September 25th. Stay tuned for more info! It’s an event not to be missed!

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Bloedel Conservatory at dusk surrounded by exterior scaffolding. Photo by Vicky Earle

 

Art Prints Inspired by Bloedel Finches

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Paula Grasdal is a Vancouver mixed media artist, printmaker, and graphic designer. She is also one of the new dedicated Roving Docents volunteering at the Bloedel Conservatory. The amazing birds at Bloedel – especially the exotic finches – became Paula’s source of inspiration. A number of prints in this series, along with artwork by co-exhibitor Rosalind Rorke, make up the “Recurrence” exhibit, now on display at the Dundarave Print Workshop on Granville Island until June 29.

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Paula began by taking a series of photographs of gouldian finches and various botanical specimens at the conservatory as source material for the imagery. She incorporated a circular motif to mirror the building’s shape. These prints incorporate abstract patterns, shadows and shifting perspectives to evoke the sense of a “fleeting glimpse of something seen and then remembered with a skewed perspective”. Inspired by repetition — cycles in nature and patterns in design — the flora and fauna is drawn from the artists’ experience and vision of the natural world. Her artwork has been featured in publications such as “Mixed Media Collage” by Quarry Press and is in private collections in the U.S. and Canada.

recurrence invite

Be sure to catch “Recurrence” at the Dundarave Print Workshop (in the Net Loft across from the market) at Granville Island. The Roving Docents, on hand every weekend at the Bloedel Conservatory, are also looking forward to your visit. They have amazing stories about the plants and birds that live there and can’t wait to share them with you. Come catch a glimpse of the exotic finches and get inspired!

 

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

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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!

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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

Crazy About Cockatoos!

Gidget, Citron-crested Cockatoo

Gidget, Citron-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata)

Looking for a great place to go on the Easter long weekend? Come in to the warm lush tropical atmosphere of the Bloedel Conservatory and get crazy about cockatoos!

You have likely already met Malibu, the Sulphur-crested cockatoo? She as been with the Conservatory for nearly a year and has settled in beautifully. If you stop and say “Hello!”, she will likely give you a loud ‘Hello’ right back and maybe show you some of her best dance moves!

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Malibu, Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea)

And she is now in good company with other birds in the Cockatoo family: Gidget the Citron-crested cockatoo and Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo. Gidget also arrived with her best buddy of 15 years: Rudy, the African Grey Parrot. The Bloedel Conservatory is very fortunate to have been chosen as the new forever home for all of these incredible birds.

Citron-cockatoos are smaller than Sulphur-crested cockatoos, have a more orange-coloured crest and soft yellow patches on their cheeks and under their wings. They are a quiet species compared with all the cockatoos and are not as good at imitating human speech as some members of the parrot family. Gidget is the sweetest little cockatoo and loves to give kisses, but you have to listen very carefully!

Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis)

Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis)

Kramer, the Moluccan cockatoo, on the other hand has a large vocabulary and is not shy about letting you know it! He says things like “Hello, Good Morning”, “Peek-a-boo”, “Kramer is a good bird”, (often followed by “Kramer is a bad bird”), “What is that?”,“I’m a bird”, “Let’s party”, “Surprise!”, “Bye-bye”, and “Good night”. Sometimes his language can even get as colourful as the plants at the Conservatory! Watch the video at ‘The Last Word: Dirty Bird Talking’ on the CTV Vancouver website (scroll to page 3 once you arrive). Moluccans are the largest of the cockatoo family and are extremely intelligent. Kramer also loves peppermint tea, baseball hats, and is a very good dancer sometimes swinging upside-down from his perch and putting on a show.

Rudy, the African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus)

Rudy, the African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus)

Rudy arrived at the Bloedel Conservatory with Gidget. Rudy is a 16 year old African Grey Parrot and also has quite a good vocabulary. She is also the master of whistles and weird, wonderful sounds. She will say “Hello!”, “Gidget”, loves to do her cat imitation, and if you sneeze, she will politely say “Bless you!”.

African Grey Parrots are loving, playful, and bring joy and laughter into the lives of all who have the pleasure of knowing one. They are known as the “Einstein’s” of the parrot world because of their incredible talking ability. African Greys are considered to be among the most intelligent of all birds, ranking alongside dolphins and chimpanzees for their ability to associate human words with meanings, shapes and colours.

All the birds at the Bloedel Conservatory have either been directly donated to the Conservatory from homes that can no longer keep them or have been adopted from the GreyHaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary. GreyHaven is a local non-profit organization that specializes in parrot rescue, rehabilitation and adoption. They actively promote avian welfare and awareness in the community through educational seminars and presentations.

Scaffolding for roof replacement project

Scaffolding for roof replacement project

A great way to round out your visit to Bloedel is with lunch or dinner at Season’s in the Park Restaurant. It’s open all Easter long weekend and offers one of the best views Vancouver has to offer. Go to their website: http://www.vancouverdine.com/seasons-park for more information, specials and to make reservations.

Now that the Conservatory roof replacement project is well underway, Bloedel is a perfect family friendly and affordable retreat rain or shine, is wheelchair accessible and is open everyday. With lush plants and over 200 exotic colourful (and entertaining) birds, it’s a perfect destination spot in the city. Hours, prices and more info can be found on the Vancouver Parks website. Come for a visit! The birds can’t wait to meet you!

 

Bloedel Conservatory Update: Big Things are Underway!

DOME scaffolding copy

Scaffolding in place for roof replacement project at the Bloedel Conservatory

The Bloedel Conservatory Roof Replacement Project is now underway!

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

Fundraiser to Support the Bloedel Conservatory

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

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

Rediscover Bloedel with Monthly Family Programs

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

Taste of the Tropics – Sunday, February 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Day Long Weekend

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

Walk in the Tropics

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

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

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

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

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

A New Year for Our Tropical Green Jewel

Bloedel Conservatory and Plaza Clock. Photo Vicky Earle.

Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © Vicky Earle.

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

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

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

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!

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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

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