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!

Bloedel under purple sky

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

 

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!

roof circle2

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!

african starling great 3.5

African Starling at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © Vicky Earle