When the Weather Outside is Frightful …

Shimmer Surprise cultivar

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Shimmer Surprise cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

Plan a visit to the Bloedel Conservatory!

It’s a warm and lush tropical get away to relax, recharge and reinvigorate the whole family during the holidays! Plus, the antics of all the birds are sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Currently there are hundreds of poinsettias – over a dozen different cultivars – on display for the festive season!

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Yellow Snow cultivar.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Yellow Snow cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

Poinsettias are right at home at the Conservatory. While they are the most popular of all Christmas houseplants, poinsettias are actually indigenous to the tropical climates of Mexico and Central America. The Aztecs called poinsettias “Cuetlaxochitl” (from cuitlatl, for residue, and xochitl, for flower). They used the plant for its medicinal properties to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye for fabrics. Legend has it that Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, had poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because this beautiful plant could not be grown at high altitudes. Today the poinsettia is known in Mexico and Guatemala as “La Flor de la Nochebuena” (Flower of the Holy Night, or Christmas Eve). In Chile and Peru, it is called the “Crown of the Andes”.

Winter Rose Red Poinsettia

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Winter Rose Red cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

The botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima (meaning ‘very beautiful’) was assigned to the poinsettia by the German botanist, Wilenow, because he was dazzled by its brilliant color. The poinsettia was introduced to North America in 1825 when the United States’ first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett, sent several plants back to his home in Greenville, South Carolina. William Prescott, historian and horticulturist, renamed the plant ‘Poinsettia’ in honour of Poinsett.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Monet Twilight cultivar

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Monet Twilight cultivar. Photo by Vicky Earle

The poinsettia grows in the wild as a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–5 metres (2–16.5 feet). Typically, the plant has dark green leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres (2.8–6.3 in) in length. The colored bracts — which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled— are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but they are actually leaves. The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia.

Bloedel 45th Anniversary cake

Bloedel Conservatory 45th Anniversary Cake


Once again, we send a big thank you to all who came out on December 6th to celebrate Bloedel’s 45th Anniversary! It was a fantastic party with Hawaiian Dancers, rhythms of Soul Survivors Steel Drum Band, a Professional Face Painter, Sven and Jens the whimsical and talented Scandinavian Gnomes and of course hot chocolate and cake. The party would not have been possible without the backing and organization from the Vancouver Park Board, the support of the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association, Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary and all of the fantastic Bloedel staff and volunteers. Thank you to all. We look forward to many more years and exciting things to come!

Happy Holidays!


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!

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!