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!

A New Year of Hope

The Bloedel Conservatory. Photo copyright Vicky Earle

It’s a New Year and we have much to celebrate at the Bloedel Conservatory! Last year was a year of “firsts” under the dome. Even though we still await the new Operating Agreement that will allow Bloedel to officially merge with the VanDusen Botanical Garden, there have been exciting happenings at our green jewel atop Queen Elizabeth Park! Here is a quick recap of 2011:

The Friends of the Bloedel saw big changes to our Board of Directors during 2011. Our President, John Coupar was successfully elected to the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. His drive, unwavering dedication, insight and optimism will be a great asset to the Park Board! Founding Director Sheryl Hamilton and her family also made the decision to leave Vancouver for more the tranquil surroundings of Armstrong, BC. Her drive and passion are greatly missed and we wish her all the best in her new home! Vicky Earle, also a Founding Director, is very excited to take the lead as the new President of the Friends of Bloedel. Two new Directors also join the Board for 2012, Aimeé Taylor and Johanna Hickey, who both have tremendous experience and bring great enthusiasm to our group.

Zygopetalum orchid

One of the biggest highlights of the year at the Conservatory were the new Orchid Shows organized in partnership with the Vancouver Orchid Society. Spectacular and exotic blossoms filled the subtropical section of the Conservatory for three separate shows. Knowledgeable VOS members were on hand daily, leading tours and answering questions about the dazzling displays. Truly an orchid affectionato’s dream! We eagerly look forward to more orchid shows during 2012!

Ruby, Eclectus parrot. Photo copyright Vicky Earle

Other highlights included many new additions to the Bloedel family! Two beautiful Electus Parrots, Ruby and Kiwi, along with Sylvester, the handsome Silver Pheasant were all adopted last summer. The Conservatory is a great home and they are all thriving! The feathered flock also greeted new small birds that include Star, Cordon Bleu and Gouldian finches, as well as a variety of canaries and other waxbills. All brightly coloured and welcome additions!

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Also new in 2011 were the Walk in the Tropics Series at the Conservatory and HSBC Family programs. A Walk in the Tropics is a monthly walk conceived and organized by VanDusen’s Education Director, Gillian Drake. They were a smashing success (sold out) and will continue throughout 2012. Led by knowledgeable staff from Bloedel and VanDusen, these morning walks are designed to familiarize you with the rich biodiversity found under Bloedel’s dome. Check the Events Calendar on the VanDusen Botanical Garden website for dates, topics and sign-up information. The HSBC Family Programs (for families with children ages 5 to 11) were also extended to Bloedel for the first time. Guided programs include fun and educational activities for the whole family to learn about the diverse tropical plant life and birds that live under the dome.

Last, but not least, the annual Jewel Box of Lights event was a wonderful success, with thousands of visitors coming in to see our tropical oasis dressed for the holidays. The fountains on the plaza were colourfully lit for the very first time in history! Gardeners at the Conservatory masterfully added stunning displays of poinsettas, twinkling waterfalls of lights and magical lasers to the festive flare of the dome. We thank all the patrons who came out for our Opening Night Event!

Considering we nearly lost this green jewel forever 2 years ago, this year of 2012 continues as a New Year of Hope, for it will see the fruition of more new programs, events and celebrations at the Bloedel Conservatory. The Friends of Bloedel are hard at work and will bring you all the latest news right here! (Click the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the page and receive automatic updates!) We thank you all for your continued support and wish you and your families a wonderful and prosperous New Year. Be sure to schedule visits to the Conservatory and immerse yourself in the magic of the dome in 2012!

Warning: Smiling is Contagious at the Bloedel Conservatory!

7  Great Reasons to Visit the Jewel Box of Lights!

Welcome to the Jewel Box! Photo copyright Silvester Law

1. It’s like a mini vacation without the airfare!

Walk in and be instantly swept away by the warmth of the tropics! The soothing sound of water and the melodic songs of the free flying birds will instantly calm your frazzled holiday nerves. Find a bench, take a deep breath and relax! Soak up the ambiance of this magical place and feel your tense muscles unwind.

2. The Garden is Masterfully Dressed for the Holidays!

Bloedel’s gardeners have once again pulled out all the stops! Twinkling lights, magical lasers and thousands of artfully planted festive poinsettas set the stage for the season. And just like a real rainforest, be sure to look high into the trees to see the papaya, bananas, India figs and more. Open late through the holidays, you have time to wander through at a leisurely pace. See if you can find the rhinestones on the tips of the poinsettias! The lights are in full brilliance after 4:00pm.

The Jewel Box of Lights show is on until January 2, 2012
Closed Christmas Day)
Sunday to Thursday, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

3. You Can Stop and Smell the Flowers

The hibiscus, orchids, golden chalace flowers, amazon lilies and of course the gorgeous poinsettias are all in full bloom right now. Plus, the beautiful Christmas cacti will all blossom right in time for the Holiday weekend.

4. The Wishing Tree

Make a wish and help Santa fill the stockings of all the parrots and birds under the Dome! Volunteers will be selling ornaments by donation to be hung on the Wishing tree. The best part? You get to take an ornament home to hang on your own tree to remember the birds at Bloedel! All money raised goes directly for toys and treats for the birds and helps cover their emergency health care costs. Helping the birds will make you feel good all over! Volunteers will be on hand to sell ornaments from:

Tuesday morning (December 13): 10 am – 12 am

Wednesday evening (December 14): 5 pm – 7 pm

Friday morning (December 16): 10 am – 12 am

Saturday afternoon (December 17): 12 am – 3:30 pm

5. Speaking of birds …

Chatty parrots and macaws are sure to make you smile! Say ‘hello’ to Art and watch him dance! Carmen and Maria, the Green Winged Macaws might give you a “High 5”, while Casey the Amazon parrot is sure to entertain and ask “What ‘cha doin’?” Nelson loves to play a “peek a boo” and be sure to give Rosie a whistle, she’s the master of all types of odd and amusing sounds. Even the wee small birds will make you giggle with their antics. Stop by the Feeding Station and watch them take a bath or share the holiday fruit.

6. Stress-free parking is available

Park in the Upper Parking Lot and see the festive fountains on the Plaza! All lit up for the very first time! Parking is also available along the hill up to the Conservatory (pay parking in effect). Alternatively, park for free along the lower ring road.

7. It’s the Best deal in Town!

Admission prices are:

Adults: $5.00; Seniors & Youth $3.48; Kids 6-12  $2.50; Preschoolers – Free.

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

See you there!

Happy 42nd Anniversary Bloedel Conservatory!

Bloedel Consevatory in the Fall

The Bloedel Conservatory opened December 6th, 1969 and was the first domed floral conservatory in Canada! It is at the geographic centre of Vancouver at its highest point in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Bloedel Conservatory under construction.

We thought you might like to read about the history of this fantastic green jewel at the top of our city on this special Anniversary day!

In 1966, while Canada prepared for its Centennial celebrations, two men in Vancouver had a grand vision. Stuart Lefeaux, Superintendent of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and Deputy Superintendent Bill Livingstone wanted to something that would enhance the image of Vancouver and give people something to be really excited about! Their vision was to build a Conservatory for exotic plants that would not only be educational, but would also be a beautiful place to visit. Where better to build such a structure than the geographic centre of the city and at its highest point of land? Queen Elizabeth Park was the obvious answer. But now how to pay for it? Stuart and Bill knew there must be a philanthropist in the city who would like their name attached to such a project.

Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. Photo courtesy of Virginia Wright Bloedel

They approached Prentice Bloedel, retired Vice Chairman of the Macmillan Bloedel Lumber Company. Prentice, a visionary in his own right, teacher at heart and a pioneer in the areas of recycling and the human/ environmental connection agreed! The Bloedel Foundation put forward $1.4 million dollars (worth $8.6 million in 2012 dollars) in conjunction with contributions by the City of Vancouver and the Provincial Government to build the Bloedel Conservatory, the fountains and the surrounding plaza. This was the largest civic gift given to Vancouver to date.

Construction of the aluminum framing of the Bloedel Conservatory.

Construction of the aluminum framing of the Bloedel Conservatory.

The elements for the triodetic dome frame were manufactured in Ottawa and shipped 3,000 miles across the country to Queen Elizabeth Park. Once it arrived, the aluminum framework was erected in just 10 days although the entire Conservatory structure took over 1 year to complete. The Grand Opening of the Conservatory took place on December 6, 1969 and hosted over 500,000 people in its first year of operation.

Bringing in the palms at the Bloedel Conservatory, 1969.

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. 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 and is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Join us for the Jewel Box of Lights Opening Event, this Friday, December 9th between 6 and 9pm to help us celebrate this amazing tropical oasis!

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

A great time is sure to be had by all!

Christmas is for the Birds!

Santa will be stopping to fill the stockings for all the parrots and other free flying birds that reside under the dome!

Saturday, December 18th at 4:30 pm

Bloedel’s radiant evening display, “Jewel Box of Lights”, and its “Wishing Tree for the Birds” has been popularly embraced by the attending public with an outpouring of donations to fill the stockings for all resident birds who call the Conservatory home.

On Saturday, December 18th, Santa Claus will stop by Bloedel Conservatory at 4:30 pm and then surprise all the feathered fowl by filling their individually embroidered stockings a little early this year.

The Friends of Bloedel have sponsored the Jewel Box of Lights display in response to overwhelming public support to save the Conservatory and reinvigorate it with new events and educational programs.

Join us for this special visit from Santa!

Jewel Box of Lights!

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

Special Opening Event

December 5th: 11 am – 4 pm

Trio of Tubas * Quartet of Carolers * Old Saint Nick *

* Wishing Tree *

Rediscover Bloedel’s plant kingdom transformed!

Please join us on Sunday, December 5, for the Jewel Box of Lights Opening Event in celebration of the 41st Anniversary of the Bloedel Conservatory. See magical lasers and twinkling waterfalls of lights as you listen to the incredible Holiday Acapella Quartet VocalWorks. Then make way for our trio of tubas! Their unique sounds are sure to delight all ages! Stop and make a wish on our Wishing Tree. Special bird ornaments will be sold by donation to help fill the stockings of all the Parrots at Bloedel and help buy special orchids for the new Exotic Orchid Shows next year. The best part? You get to take an ornament home for your own tree! Santa will be stopping by too, handing out delicious European chocolates.

Regular admission: Adults $5.35;  Seniors & Youth $3.75;

Kids 6-12  $2.70; Preschoolers – Free

The Jewel Box of Lights display will run extended hours from:

December 3rd – January 2nd
Fri & Sat: 10 am – 9 pm       Sun – Thurs: 10 am – 8 pm
*Closed December 25*

(Early closure at 5pm: December 16, 30 & 31)

It will be a very special day under the dome!

See you there!

Please note: Due to construction, park access to the Bloedel Conservatory, Season’s Restaurant and park-top parking is off of 33rd Avenue between Cambie and Main. See detailed map under Bloedel Conservatory: