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!

 

 

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Special Mother’s Day Event at the Bloedel Conservatory!

Looking for a unique venue to delight Mom on Mother’s Day?

Treat her to a special day at the Bloedel Conservatory and Queen Elizabeth Park on May 10th!

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The Bloedel Conservatory is now on Summer Hours and just in time for Mother’s Day! There will be much to do for the whole family! Not only is the Conservatory a healing garden – a magical place to unwind and relax in the lush atmosphere of the tropics, we’ve assembled a treat package that you can pre-purchase for Mom to receive when she arrives on Mother’s Day. This $28 package includes one adult admission to the Conservatory, special treats from Truffles Fine Foods, Daniel’s Chocolates, Barefoot Venus, and Evian, plus an exclusive silver Umay pendant ($20 value shown below) designed by the Katami Studio. “Umay” is Turkish for Hope and was also a goddess offering luck. This pendant was formed from a raw and imperfect seashell and each is cast by hand to ensure the finest quality.

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Stations will also be set up around the Conservatory during the event: Learn all about orchids and their care with Vancouver Orchid Society specialist Margaret Pratt; Visit the craft table for kids so they can plant a starter herb and create their own Mother’s Day card to gift to Mom; Artists from the Katami Design Studio will be hosting a jewellery trunk show and eat or visit Season’s in the Park Restaurant for brunch or dinner. So much to do! And don’t forget to bring your camera. The park gardens are stunning with spring blossoms and the chatty parrots at the Bloedel Conservatory are sure to delight the entire family. A very lovely day to celebrate Mom!

Advanced purchase for the Mother’s Day Treat Package required: Contact bloedelevents@vancouver.ca

or buy online: HERE

 The Conservatory is open until 8pm. Mother’s Day Special Event hours: 10am – 4pm

Regular admission applies. Walk-ins welcome. Wheelchair accessible.

Adults (19-64) $6.50     Seniors (65+) $4.50      Youth (13-18) $4.50      Child (3– 12) $3.25      Family  $15

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Bloedel Conservatory Summer Hours:

Monday – Friday: 9am – 8pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 9pm

Also brand new for the summer months: Health and Wellness Programs are now scheduled at Bloedel.

Join instructor Shelagh Smith on May 21st, June 18th, or July 16th, 2015 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm for the Rapt in Nature Tropical Walk Series.

Nature plays a profound and essential role in our health, happiness and productivity. Learn about the evidence-based benefits of enjoying nature and try out mindful and playful techniques to deepen your connection to plants, birds and ecological systems. Ms. Smith is a registered horticultural therapist who has developed and facilitated horticultural therapy programs since 1994 for a variety of participant groups, including residents in long-term care, people with disabilities, street-involved youth living in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, people with mental health issues, and healthcare providers. Enjoy this guided walk with Ms. Smith in the warmth and beauty of the Bloedel Conservatory. Price: Member: $10 / Non-member: $15

Purchase tickets online at Eventbrite

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!

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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!

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‘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.

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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

Orchids and More in May!

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Looking for somewhere fun and relaxing to take Mom on Mother’s Day? May is all about orchids at the Bloedel Conservatory! There are exquisite orchids on display right now: gorgeous phalaenopsis (moth orchids) and cymbidiums (boat orchids), as well as the more unique lady slipper, spider and oncidiums (dancing lady orchids). Always a treat to see and sure to delight Mom! The Conservatory is now open until 8pm everyday throughout the summer – perfect after a stroll in Queen Elizabeth Park or dinner at Season’s Restaurant. And it gives you even more time to treat Mom on her special day!

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As you wander through the tropical atmosphere finding all of the orchid treasures, be sure to stop and say ‘Hello’ to Malibu, the new Sulphur-crested Cockatoo! She will likely give you a loud ‘Hello’ right back and maybe show you some of her best dance moves! Malibu is quite a character and a welcome addition to the Conservatory. She and over 100 free flying exotic birds are sure to bring smiles to the whole family!

Lady Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedlium).

Also in May, come in for the next Walk in the Tropics talk. If you love orchids, don’t miss: Orchids Throughout the World, taking place on Wednesday, May 22 at 6:30. With over 30,000 species, orchids are the largest plant family in the world! Join Margaret Pratt, President of the Vancouver Orchid Society, in a discussion about these fascinating plants and their unique adaptations for tropical climates. You may just find out why many people develop serious ‘orchid addictions’. Registration is a must! For more information click here.

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And excitement for orchids does not stop there! The Rare and Exotic Orchid Show begins Friday, May 24th at 10am through Sunday, May 26th. This special event is a joint partnership with the Vancouver Orchid Society and is free with admission.  A must see for orchid aficionados! Members of the VOS grace the Conservatory with exquisite orchids from their own private collections and are on hand to answer all of your orchid questions. Don’t forget your camera! There will be a multitude of rare and unusual beauties for that picture perfect shot! May is all about orchids and more!

Save the dates and see you there!

Butterflies at the Bloedel Conservatory?

Yes! Butterfly Orchids that is!

The Rare & Exotic Orchid Show is on NOW!

Yellow Butterfly Orchid (Psychopsis papilio Lindl. H.G.James)

Come in an see a variety of lady slippers (paphiopedilum and phragmipedium), dancing ladies (oncidium), and the stunning butterfly orchid (psychopsis). And don’t miss the tiny orchids! They are some of the most delicate and spectacular specimens nature has created! One even smells like chocolate mint!

The show runs from September 28th until October 8th, 2012.

Lady Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum).

Members of the VOS will be on hand everyday from 11am to 3pm to answer questions you may have about orchid identification, repotting and maintenance.  They will also be conducting free orchid talks scheduled for 11am, 12noon and 2pm. Listen in and learn about this very diverse family of plants, how they grow in nature and why orchids have become such popular (and addictive) plants worldwide!

Dancing Lady Orchids (Oncidium)

Bloedel Conservatory Hours:

September 18th – April 30th: 10am – 5pm

Regular admission applies

See you there!

Rare and Exotic Orchid Exhibit

January is typically the coldest month of the year, but not inside the tropical paradise of the Bloedel Conservatory!

Starting January 26th until February 6th, the bi-annual Rare & Exotic Orchid Exhibit will be on display! Brighten your day with breathtakingly vivid colors, exotic shapes, and a beauty that will leave you starring!

Put on in partnership with the Vancouver Orchid Society, shake off the winter blues and be sure to stop in for a visit! Regular hours: 10am to 5pm. Volunteers from the VOS will be offering FREE Orchid Tours three times a day (11am, 12 noon, 2pm). They will also be on hand between 11am to 3pm, ready to answer any questions you may have about growing, potting, and identifying these little jewels. Learn a little, see a lot, but don’t miss this fantastic event!

Here’s a preview of what you might see:

Butterfly Orchids

Lady Slippers

Dancing Ladies

Cattleyas

Odontoglossums

And Orchids that smell like chocolate mint! YUM

Regular admission applies.

See you there!

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!

October Orchid Show at Bloedel!

White miltonia (pansy) orchid. Photo Radina Jevdevic

Come one, Come all! 

The New Orchid Show is Here!

Come be dazzled by the beauty of these extraordinary blossoms! The Vancouver Orchid Society has put together an extraordinary display of orchids to share with you – a variety of lady slippers (paphiopedilum and phragmipedium),  dancing ladies (oncidium), vandas, odontoglossums and a stunning butterfly orchid (psychopsis).  The show runs from September 30th until October 10th, 2011.

Members of the VOS will be on hand everyday from 11am to 3pm to answer questions you may have about orchid identification, repotting and maintenance.  They will also be conducting free orchid tours scheduled for 11am, 12noon and 2pm every day. Listen in and learn about this very diverse family of plants, how they grow in nature and why orchids have become such popular (and addictive) plants worldwide. Members also promise to dispel any myths that these exotic plants are hard to grow!

And don’t forget to look for the tiny orchids. They are some of the most delicate and spectacular specimens nature has created! Some even smell like chocolate mint. Be sure to bring your camera and your curiosity! You are in for a treat!

Bloedel Conservatory Hours:

September 18th – April 30th: 10am – 5pm

Photo Radina Jevdevic

Royal Robe orchid. Photo by Radina Jevdevic

Laelia spectabilis praectans. Photo Radina Jevdevic

Dendrobium obtussisepalum. Photo by Radina Jevdevic

See You There!