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

The Bloedel Conservatory Joins the Pollinator Project!

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

With Spring in full swing and lots of blossoms at the Bloedel Conservatory, it is a perfect time to introduce Mason Bees into the lush iconic dome. Mason Bees are an early Spring pollinator. 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 where visitors of every age can be in close proximity to observe their work.

Mason Bees are considered superior pollinators (especially for fruit trees), true “work horses” of the garden. They are a fast bee, visiting approximately 17 blossoms per minute. In fact 1 mason bee pollinates as many flowers as 100 honey bees! This is encouraging many people to introduce these bees to their own gardens by providing man-made nesting sites like the one seen below.

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Mason bee house mounted on a Butterfly Palm at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo by Vicky Earle

Mason Bees emerge from their cocoons in the spring. The male bees are the first to come out of the nest. They remain near the nest waiting for the females. When the females emerge, they mate, then the females begin provisioning their nests. Every female bee is fertile. In nature, she makes nests in long cylindrical holes about the size of a pencil – typically in hollow twigs or abandoned nests of wood-boring beetles or carpenter bees.

Females visit flowers to gather pollen and nectar.  A mother bee then lays a single egg in a nesting tunnel and deposits a ball of gathered pollen and nectar for food when that egg hatches. Next, she builds a wall from mud or clay to close that chamber before laying the next egg and depositing the next food ball. Building these walls are how Mason Bees got their name!

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Mason bee nest cell with cocoons. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Amazingly, the mother bee can control the DNA to produce approximately 50% males and 50% females. Once a bee has finished with a nest, she plugs the entrance to the tube, and then may seek out another nest location. Each female can lay approximately 25 eggs. By the end of June, the nesting period is over. By late October or early November, the lavae pupate and spin silken cocoons within the nest chamber where they will lie dormant over the winter months.

Pollinators have declined in many areas but the exact causes are not known. Factors include habitat changes from growing cities, spread of disease (mites and viruses), and pesticide use.

The Pollinator Project, started in Vancouver in April of 2014, by the Parks Board and City Council, aims to make Vancouver parks and gardens friendlier to all bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Staff began work with stewardship groups and community gardeners to raise public awareness about the value of pollinators, to facilitate habitat enhancement projects, and to assess and monitor pollinator populations. Staff also collaborated with the Environmental Youth Alliance and Hives for Humanity to help promote pollinators across the city. For more information, visit the Pollinator Project at: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/pollinator-project.aspx

When sourcing out pollinator friendly plants for your own garden, please avoid plants and seeds sprayed with nicotine-based insecticides (neonicotinoids). These will kill the beneficial bees and butterfly pollinators along with unwanted pests. Man-made mason bee nests, cocoons and supplies can be found at many local garden and wild bird stores in the Vancouver area.

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When the Weather Outside is Frightful …

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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”.

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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!

 

Mark Your Calendars! The Bloedel Conservatory turns 45!

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Come out & Join the the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Bloedel Conservatory on Saturday, December 6th

Caribbean Steel Drum rhythms will be the backdrop for a FREE DAY of festivities, including cake and refreshments, face painting, Hawaiian dancers, souvenir photos, plus Roving Docents will be on hand to share unique and interesting stories of the plants and birds that call Bloedel home. Parking is also free in the top parking lot at Queen Elizabeth Park from 10am – 4pm. It will be an all-around fun, family friendly day!

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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 in 1969. 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, is a ‘Class A’ Heritage Building and is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Don’t forget your cameras! There will be lots of great photo opportunities. We look forward to seeing you there!

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When? Saturday, December 6th; 10am – 4pm

Where? Bloedel Conservatory, Queen Elizabeth Park

Who? Everyone!

Admission? Free

 

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!

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

 

Conservatory Gets Great Funding News!

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Bloedel Conservatory seen from the Large Quarry Garden. Photo by Vicky Earle

On Friday morning, the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced a new Federal Government investment of $225,000 to complete phase 1 of the Bloedel Conservatory’s roof replacement project. This support is part of the Economic Action Plan 2012, under the Harper Government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) and is an important supplement to the City of Vancouver’s $1 million capital investment already designated 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. This fan is key in controlling the variations in humidity necessary for the 3 different climatic zones found within Bloedel, a unique feature in the world of domed Conservatories.

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Left to right: Director of Parks Bill Harding, Park Commissioner Niki Sharm, Emma Bolzner, Park Commissioner John Coupar, Honourable Lynne Yelich Minister of State, Vancouver Deputy Mayor Geoff Meggs and MP Andrew Saxton.

This public announcement was very well attended with great representation from the community, including garden staff and garden enthusiasts, VanDusen Botanical Garden Association/ Bloedel Committee members, Federal, City and Parks staff, and local MP Andrew Saxton (North Vancouver). Speakers included Vancouver Deputy Mayor Geoff Meggs, Park Commissioner Niki Sharma and Park Commissioner John Coupar. Honourable Yelich also invited 12 year old Emma Bolzner, an avid Bloedel Conservatory fundraiser and supporter, up to the podium to say a few words. What a great day and great news for the Bloedel Conservatory!

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Speaker: Park Commissioner John Coupar and past President of Friends of the Bloedel.

Home to hundreds of exotic plants and free flying birds, the Bloedel Conservatory is a unique horticultural treasure in the Vancouver Parks and Recreation system. Even with this funding boost, more money is still needed to complete the remaining phases of this important infrastructure project. All donations are welcomed, tax deductible and can be made online on the City of Vancouver’s secure website here: Help Restore the Bloedel Conservatory.

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Some of the inhabitants of the Bloedel Conservatory. Clockwise: Amazon lily, lady slipper orchids, Carmen and Maria, the green-winged macaws, orange-headed gouldian finch.

Bloedel Conservatory Saved!

Eight months of very hard work, research, sleepless nights, and endless meetings have been offset by tremendous periods of encouragement and inspiration. The Friends of the Bloedel are so incredibly fortunate to have the support and backing of so many of YOU! People from across the lower mainland, Canada and abroad.

THANK YOU!!

Together we have SAVED this magical place and its future looks very bright indeed!

We are so proud to make this announcement! Of course we will be organizing a ‘bash’ to celebrate and we hope to see each and everyone of you there! In the meantime, we’ll be sending out surveys for your input and ideas. Please take part as we continue move forward to re-engage the Conservatory with our communities, schools and visitors. Our work is really just beginning and as the Bloedel has begun to win back its audience, we will still need your help for its continued success. This is a very exciting time and we want you to be a part of it!

Thanks also to everyone who came to the Budgets and Special Services Committee meeting last night at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. There were five Commissioners in attendance: Commissioners Aaron Jasper, Ian Robertson, Loretta Woodcock, Constance Barnes, and Sarah Blyth. Their vote was unanimous in favour of our proposal to partner with the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association to help manage and operate the Conservatory.

This means that on September 20, 2010 the Vancouver Park Board will officially accept our FOBA/VBGA proposal at their full board meeting. Meanwhile, the Commissioners have directed Park Board staff to begin working with us on our plan to reinvigorate the Bloedel and improve attendance.

This journey to save the Bloedel Conservatory has been a collaborative effort and an exciting journey for us all! A special thank you goes out to Mavis Hnidy for having the insight to introduce John Coupar, Vicky Earle and Sheryl Hamilton – who by a stroke of sheer sychronicity back in November – all happened to be at the Conservatory, looking for a way to save it. That one small step set the wheels in motion in such tremendous ways! The Friends of the Bloedel Association was formed and we now look forward to a positive partnership with the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

Do join us as we continue to take part in the magic that is the Bloedel Conservatory!

THANK YOU to All Our Supporters!

We are sending a heartfelt

THANK YOU

to each and every person who has helped

Save the Bloedel Conservatory!

Every donation, big and small, has helped us in our efforts. How?

Most importantly, we have kept the Conservatory open past the closure deadline! If events had continued along the original path, the doors to Bloedel would have closed forever back on March 1, 2010. Together, we have kept the Bloedel Conservatory open at least until September, 2010.

Next, we have had marketing underway for a few months now – and it is really paying off! Attendance at the Conservatory has consistently doubled or tripled every month since December. More and more people are re-discovering the beauty and the magic held within the dome. This is great news! Right now Bloedel is breaking even!! Your donations have helped make this possible! If 70,000 more people visit annually the operating deficit is history! Please keep visiting, bringing your friends and helping us spread the word!

What else? We have put on two great Events (and raised over $45,000)! ‘Garden Fever’, our next event is planned for June 24th at the VanDusen Floral Hall. We have a fun-filled Silent Auction set to go with many great gifts ‘on the block’ including, private wine tastings, art, photography, private garden tours and more!

Also, true to the mandate for Friends of the Bloedel, we have undertaken legal research to help protect the Bloedel Conservatory well into the future.

Together we have started to make a big difference!

From all of the birds and plants under the dome, and especially from Friends of the Bloedel,

We thank you again for your tremendous support!

News Update on the EOI: Our Expression of Interest is still being considered by the Vancouver Park Board. Join us at the Public Meeting June 15th, 2010 at the Park Board office Boardroom (2099 Beach Avenue @ 6:30) and show your support for our proposal to partner with VanDusen Garden Botanical Association. We are offering to work collaboratively with the Park Board to keep the Bloedel Floral Conservatory open and in public hands for generations to come, but the final decision is still pending. For more information, visit FriendsoftheBloedel.ca.

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