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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Celebrate National Garden Days!

It’s time to top and smell the flowers with Vancouver’s Garden Pass!

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Orange hibiscus in bloom at the Bloedel Conservatoy. Photo © V. Earle

Just in time for Father’s Day, Canada’s National Garden Days draws attention to public and private gardens across the country! Garden Days (June 19 – 21) celebrate the role of gardens in our communities and in our lives. The program’s objective is to draw attention to Canada’s garden culture, its history and innovations, and to underscore the important values of gardening and environmental stewardship. When the Bloedel Conservatory opened in December, 1969, Prentice Bloedel dedicated this lush green jewel “to a better appreciation and understanding of the world of plants”. It has been connecting people with the magic of the tropics ever since!

This year, 5 incredible public gardens have united to offer a special Vancouver Garden Pass for the celebration. Pass holders can visit any of the gardens as many times as they wish over 3 days for $25.

Buffon's Touraco at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © V. Earle

Buffon’s Touraco at the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo © V. Earle

Experience phenomenal collections of plants from all over the world, history and award winning architecture at:

Bloedel Conservatory: 4600 Cambie St, Vancouver at Queen Elizabeth Park

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden: 578 Carrall St, Vancouver in Chinatown

Nitobe Memorial Garden: 1895 Lower Mall, Vancouver at UBC

UBC Botanical Garden: 6804 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver at UBC

VanDusen Botanical Garden: 5251 Oak St, Vancouver

Ticket options are $25 for individual, $40 for a couple, and $5 for children 5 to 18 years of age (taxes not included).

Buy your tickets in advance online, or at any of the participating gardens during the 3 day celebration. Present your tickets at any one of the five Gardens to receive your wristband-pass. Then, simply present your wristband on June 19th, 20th or 21st at any of the participating Gardens for entry.

Entrance to the Bamboo Bridge in the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo by Vicky Earle

Entrance to the Bamboo Bridge in the Bloedel Conservatory. Photo by Vicky Earle

It will be a great weekend! See you there!

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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

Friends of Bloedel Receive Award of Honour from City of Vancouver Heritage Commission

On May 27th, the founding Directors of the Friends of the Bloedel were recipients of the Award of Honour from the City of Vancouver Heritage Commission.

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From Left to Right: John Coupar, Sheryl Hamilton, Vicky Earle, Councillor Elizabeth Ball, Tom Hobbs

This top award demonstrates an outstanding contribution to heritage conservation in the City of Vancouver and recognizes the advocacy and successful efforts to save and revitalize landmark sites. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Ball presented John Coupar, Vicky Earle, Sheryl Hamilton, Terri Clark and Tom Hobbs with the award on Monday evening. The Heritage Awards Ceremony takes place every two years with awards of Recognition, Merit, and Honour given to successful nominees.

Saving the Bloedel Conservatory would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the community and donors both large and small. Thank you to all who helped the Friends along the way and to those who continue to do so. Our success would not have been possible without you.

This recognition of the work done by the Friends is a step which we hope will help ensure the rebirth and long term success of this green jewel at the pinnacle of our city. This rebirth was achieved by a remarkable community based effort led by the Friends and supported by the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association, which we are now privileged to be a part of. As an integral part of the VanDusen Botanical Garden – the centre of sustainability and environmental excellence in our City – the Bloedel Conservatory’s comeback is well under way. Please continue to visit and enjoy all that both gardens have to offer!

6 Top Reasons to Attend the Bloom Gala!

Stunning view of the VanDusen Garden. Photo by Raymond Lo

As you know, the Friends of the Bloedel Association has joined the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association. One of our combined goals is to help raise awareness about the incredible world of plants and why plants are so important to us all. The Bloom Gala is a fundraiser to not only help raise funds for educational programs and interpretation, but to also celebrate the new ‘Living Building’ Visitor Centre at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. The Gala evening is this Thursday, September 15th at 6pm! Do you have your ticket?

Here are the 6 Top Reasons to attend!

1. Be one of the first visitors to preview the amazing architecture of what is expected to be Canada’s first certified ‘Living Building‘. Inspired by the structure of a native British Columbian orchid, Busby Perkins+Will architects have designed this state of the art Visitor Centre to be ‘super green’. Come find out why!

2. Eat, drink and be merry! Great food, great drink and great music will flow throughout the evening. Edible Canada will delight your palate with West Coast seafood, Asian inspired dishes, First Nations delicacies, traditional African delights and decadent desserts. Sip wines from Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery while you listen to the smooth sounds of the Weaver/Werth Jazz Quartet.

3. Meet the beautiful and talented CTV News Anchor, Tamara Taggart, honorary chair for the event.

4. Bid on a diverse array of fantastic items featured in both live and silent auctions!

5. People refresh their souls through nature. Know that you will be directly benefiting the health of garden visitors by supporting this wonderful expanse of nature and educational programs at the Bloedel Conservatory and VanDusen Garden in urban Vancouver.

6. Tickets are tax deductible! The VanDusen Botanical Garden Association a registered non-profit organization. (Be sure to write a quick note on the ticket form that you would like a receipt when you purchase your ticket).

There are a limited number of tickets still available!

Purchase tickets online or stop by in person at the VanDusen Garden Administration office located at 5251 Oak Street at 37th Avenue and fill out your ticket form.

It will be a great night! See you there!

Fountain at Livingstone Lake. Photo by Nancy Wong

Garden Fever!

Kick off the Summer with Garden Fever!


A great evening of music, wine and SHOPPING is planned in support of Saving our Beloved Floral Conservatory June 24!

Come enjoy hor d’oeuvres, sparkling wine from Sumac Ridge and be transported on a mini vacation by lively Jamaican steel drum music at this fun Silent Auction! Great items are ‘on the block’ for purchase: Private Garden and Canopy Walkway tours, art and photography, classes, workshops, Chocolate 101 for 12 by Xoxolat Chocolaterie and much much more! All funds raised will go directly to preserve and protect the Bloedel Conservatory for future generations.

When? June 24, 2010: 7pm – 9:30pm

Where? VanDusen Garden Floral Hall

You can Order Tickets in a number of ways: ($50 each/2 for $75)

Call or Stop by Hobb’s Gifts: 2129 W. 41st Ave, Kerrisdale / 604-261-5988

Call or Stop by VanDusen Administration Office: VanDusen Garden Floral Hall / 604-257-8666 (Hours: Mon – Fri: 9am – 4:30pm)

Or Online: https://events.foodconnect.com/kiosk/647

See you there!

A Step in the Right Direction!

Working in conjunction with Park Board Commissioner Barnes, Friends of Bloedel have taken the opportunity to market the Conservatory at the Vancouver Lookout, located atop the Harbour Centre Tower in downtown Vancouver at 555 West Hastings Street.

Our 6 1/2 foot poster was put in place yesterday alongside a display for the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden where it will remain for the next 3 weeks. By increasing attendance by 70,000 more visits per year at the Bloedel Conservatory, we can say goodbye to the operating deficit. Thanks to the groundswell of support by the public and surrounding communities, we are well on our way to that goal!

If the Park Board accepts the Expression of Interest proposal put forward by the Friends of the Bloedel/ VanDusen Botanical Garden Association partnership, this will be the first of many steps to ensure our green jewel stays open well into the future.