Bloedel Conservatory – A Year in Review: 2015

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More and more people have been celebrating the Bloedel Conservatory and rediscovering the magic under the dome! Frequently heard are comments like “The Bloedel Conservatory is my new happy place” and “Bloedel is my dome away from home”. This means that the partnership and hard work of all staff and volunteers of the Park Board and the VBGA are working and headed in the right direction! At the start of every New Year, it is important to reflect on our successes and share our gratitude.

Highlights of 2015 include:

The Bloedel Roving Docent Program wrapped up it’s second successful year in 2015 and is continuing in 2016 with 18 new trainees. New docents begin training in January and 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. This team of dedicated volunteers has been a tremendous asset to the Conservatory, heightening the visitor experience by sharing the incredible stories at Bloedel with guests. They are on hand every Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10am – 4pm.

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Ildiko Szabo, Assistant Curator Cowan Tetrapod Collection, UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum giving a presentation to Bloedel Roving Docents.

A number of successful events took place throughout the year at the Conservatory and surrounding Queen Elizabeth Park:

Family Fun on Family Day: Activities included bird talks, ladybug and butterfly releases (including information about why they are good for your garden), opportunities to feed the finches, as well as a Tropical Adaptations station that provided information about unique strategies rainforest plants use to survive in this unique climate.

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Joshua Yu, Owner of Metamorphic Butterfly Farms, giving demo about the life cycle of butterflies on Family Day.

A Special Mother’s Day Celebration: Vancouver Orchid Society specialist Margaret Pratt shared examples from the spectacular world of orchids and discussed their care; craft tables for kids where set up where children could plant a starter herb and create their own Mother’s Day card; and artists from the Katami Design Studio designed special Bloedel Conservatory jewellery just for the occasion.

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Orchids left to right: Lady Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum), Dancing Ladies (Oncidium), Butterfly orchid (Psychopsis papilio)

National Garden Days: For the first time in Vancouver, five incredible public gardens united to offer a special Vancouver Garden Pass for the National Garden Days celebration. Just in time for Father’s Day, garden aficionados could visit the Bloedel Conservatory, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Sun Yat Sen Classic Chinese Garden, Nitobe Memorial Garden and UBC’s Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research all on one pass.

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Queen Elizabeth Park’s 75th Anniversary: More than 20,000 people came out to celebrate QE Park’s 75th Anniversary! Free concerts, aerial acrobatics of CircusWest and activities including Pickleball, Pitch & Putt, entrance to the Bloedel Conservatory and $5 Zipline rides filled the park with music and entertainment throughout the day. Over the course of the summer and fall, the QE Park Zipline, constructed and operated by Greenheart International FlightLinez, saw over 25,000 thrill seekers zoom over the Large Quarry Garden gaining incredible views of Vancouver. It operated for 87 days, 7 days a week and generated $334,787 total revenue with partial proceeds going to Children’s charities including BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Toy Mountain 2015, and Variety – The Children’s Charity. The Bloedel Conservatory also experienced a boost in attendance with a discount extended to Zipline riders.

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Vancouver Park Board Vice Chair, Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung and Chair, Commissioner John Coupar at QE Park’s 75th Anniversary

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Crowds enjoying QE Park, the Bloedel Conservatory and the best views of Vancouver during the Park’s 75th Anniversary

Enchanted Nights: New this year, a world of whimsy and magic at the Bloedel Conservatory is wowing visitors with artisan sprite villages, hand-blown glass, Fairy Queens and unicorn rides.

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Bloedel Conservatory and Fountain lit up for Enchanted Nights Holiday Show

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Fairy Queen Tatianna greeting young visitor at Enchanted Night’s

In this holiday attraction for all ages, patrons can walk through a miniature world of fantasy with magical lights, holiday music, and live entertainment set amongst the dome’s tropical plants and exotic birds. Displays have been created by Corey Cote, the Enchanted Forest Collective, Christopher Moreno of 365 Productions, Melissa Hume of Dirty Clay Studios, and Benjamin Kikkert of New-Small & Sterling Studio Glass. Hurry while you can! Enchanted Nights at Bloedel is open until January 3rd, from 4 pm to 9 pm.

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With all the extra light created by the New Roof Renovation in 2014, the Conservatory experienced stunning new blossoms in 2015 including African Popcorn plants, plate-sized hibiscus, a variety of gingers and Mysore Trumpet Vines.

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Bloedel Conservatory’s completed roof renovation

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This year also welcomed a number of new birds to the flock. Blanca, the Umbrella Cockatoo loves visitors, often fanning her crest and showing off her great dance moves. Diamond Doves add to the melodies under the dome with their gorgeous ‘wood-flute’ sounding songs, while the new Chinese Pheasant, Roul Roul Partridges, Bourke’s parakeets and variety of finches add colour and entertainment around the feeding station.

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Clockwise left to right: Blanca, the Umbrella Cockatoo, Chinese Pheasant, Shaft-tailed finch, Diamond Dove, Roul Roul Partridges

And for the first time, the Bloedel Conservatory joined the Pollinator Project and introduced Mason Bees into the lush iconic dome. Unlike Honey Bees that live and work in a community, Mason Bees are solitary. Because there is no Queen bee, they do not sting. This makes the Mason Bee ideal for public places.

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Mason bee (Osmia cornifrons). Photo by Beatriz Moisset, Creative Commons

On that note, please accept our appreciation and sincere thanks to you as a supporter of the Bloedel Conservatory. Whether you have joined us at events, generously donated, or simply shared our commitment to reinvigorate the Conservatory and re-engage with the community, our mission is made that much more attainable knowing that we have your support! Thank you and Happy New Year!

 

 

A Step in the Right Direction!

Working in conjunction with Park Board Commissioner Barnes, Friends of Bloedel have taken the opportunity to market the Conservatory at the Vancouver Lookout, located atop the Harbour Centre Tower in downtown Vancouver at 555 West Hastings Street.

Our 6 1/2 foot poster was put in place yesterday alongside a display for the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden where it will remain for the next 3 weeks. By increasing attendance by 70,000 more visits per year at the Bloedel Conservatory, we can say goodbye to the operating deficit. Thanks to the groundswell of support by the public and surrounding communities, we are well on our way to that goal!

If the Park Board accepts the Expression of Interest proposal put forward by the Friends of the Bloedel/ VanDusen Botanical Garden Association partnership, this will be the first of many steps to ensure our green jewel stays open well into the future.