TROPICAL GARDEN UNDER THE DOME IN QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK
The Conservatory is one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver and is open daily, rain or shine. A modest fee is charged. It is dedicated to the wonders of the natural world with an emphasis on plants and birds. As a matter of fact, over 100 birds of various species call the Bloedel Conservatory home and free-fly within its spacious dome. It was constructed through a very generous donation from Prentice Bloedel in 1969. That same donation enabled the Park Board to cover the main reservoir atop Queen Elizabeth Park.
TOP SIX THINGS TO SEE AT BLOEDEL
There is so much to see at the Bloedel Conservatory that it’s hard to pick the top six! However, these things are a definite ‘must see’ when you go for a visit:
1. THE DOME ITSELF!
Yes, obviously you are going to see the dome, but there are a few ‘tidbits’ that might give a greater appreciation on your next visit. Built in 1969, this triodetic dome is an architectural wonder and was created as the City of Vancouver’s 1967 Centennial project. Many people don’t know it was the first floral conservatory in the world (!) and won the Vincent Massey Award for Excellence in Urban Environment in 1972. The design of the dome was based on the principle of openness, one where the structure doesn’t compete with the rainforest experience by using center supports. It is 70 feet high at its apex and is constructed using 1,490 plexiglass ‘bubbles’ set into a 2,324 piece aluminum framework. The Bloedel Conservatory was listed as a Class-A Canadian Heritage building in 1993. Outside, Prentice Bloedel selected the Henry Moore sculpture to work with the overall design of the fountain, the Conservatory and the entire plaza. His intent was to connect man with the inspiration and power of nature through art, architecture and lush garden ecosystems.
2. THE TOURACO
If you can find him you are lucky indeed, but that’s half the adventure! Take your time, look up into the trees, be patient. It’s just like bird watching in a real rainforest! Now you see him, now you don’t … but worth the wait! He is one of the most unusual and exotic birds at Bloedel…. and sounds a bit like a gorilla when he sings! (Hint: he likes to hang out in the big magnolia tree above the waterfall).
3. THE CYCAD
The type of cycad at Bloedel is the Mexican Horncone and its species is one of the oldest on the planet! Seriously! It was around when dinosaurs roamed and you can see one right here in Vancouver. Cycad fossils have been dated back 125 million years, and Cycad-like relatives go back 275 million years. The Horncone is really quite unassuming, blending in with all the other palms the way it does, but it is actually more closely related to pine and spruce trees. You can find it on your left, just over the bamboo bridge.
4. THE ORCHIDS!
There are so many at Bloedel and they are always changing.
5. THE PARROTS OF COURSE!
How could we pick just one? Rosie, Art, Carmen and Maria, Nelson, Casey and Monty – all have their own unique personalities and usually have something to say. Nelson (the smallest macaw) may even play ‘Peek a Boo’ (yep, he actually says ‘peek-a-boo’ and turns around to hide). Be sure to ask Casey ‘What ‘cha doin’ ? when you stop by.
6. THE DRAGON TREES
There are a few types of Dragon trees at the Conservatory. The ‘Big’ Dragons however (Dracaena draco) can be found in the subtropical section of the Conservatory. These trees are native to the Canary Islands and grow very (very) slowly. In fact it takes about 10 years for a tree to grow 1 metre! Some are estimated at 650 years old. The trunk branches every time the tree flowers and is one way to help determine its age. When the bark or leaves are cut, the reddish coloured resin has been referred to as ‘dragon’s blood’ which was used in ancient times as medicines, dyes, varnish and incense.
• The conservatory opened in 1969 and was constructed through a donation from Prentice Bloedel. That same donation was used to cover the water reservoir on top of Queen Elizabeth Park and to provide covered walkways, lighted fountains and art work.
• In November 2009, facing a large budget shortfall, the Vancouver Park Board voted in favour of closing the Conservatory. The approximately $240,000 CDN annual operating subsidy and the need for a roof replacement and other major capital costs were cited by members of the board as reasons for the decision.The closure was to take effect on March 1, 2010, just after Vancouver had finished hosting the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.In response to the decision several groups formed in order to lobby both the board and city council.
• In early January 2010, a commissioner reported that attendance numbers were up sharply in December 2009 over December 2008 now that construction projects at the adjacent reservoir on Little Mountain and along Cambie Street, which started in 2003, had been completed.By the end of January, the Friends of the Bloedel Association had helped raise $50,000, and was projecting $250,000 by the proposed March closure.In late February, the park board voted to keep the facility open, and asked for proposals on running the facility.
• On April 29, 2010, the Friends of the Bloedel Association and VanDusen Botanical Garden Association submitted a proposal to the Vancouver Park Board, to run the Bloedel Conservatory as part of the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. As of May 2010 the Conservatory remains open with regular operating hours.
• At least one other proposal was received, but the joint proposal of the Friends of the Bloedel and the VanDusen Association was approved by the Services and Budgets Committee of the Vancouver Park Board on July 20, 2010. The full Park Board unanimously approved the plan on September 20, 2010.
PLANTS AND ANIMALS
• Over 100 birds of various species reside within the dome and are allowed to fly free. Also on display are an array of tropical fish. The Bloedel Floral Conservatory is a lush tropical experience representative of about 500 species and varieties of plants from deep jungle to desert clime – all housed within the dome.
• The conservatory is home to Bougainvilleas and Browallias, citrus and coffee trees, Eucalypti and epiphytes, Euphorbia and various figs, Gardenia and Hibiscus. Magnolia trees share space with delicate lilies, yucca with pteris (ferns).
• Located 500 feet (150 m) above sea level, the conservatory itself is 140 feet (43 m) in diameter, 70 feet (21 m) high. The triodetic dome (related to a geodesic dome) consists of 1,490 acrylic glass bubbles and is illuminated at night.
• In the plaza adjacent to the Conservatory dome is Henry Moore’s sculpture Knife Edge – Two Piece. It was donated to the Park Board by avid modern art collector Prentice Bloedel when he funded the redevelopment of original Queen Elizabeth Park Plaza and Bloedel Floral Conservatory. It is one of three casts of this work by the famous British sculptor.
• The conservatory sits beside the beautiful Quarry Gardens and a panoramic 180 degree view of Vancouver’s skyline and mountain backdrop.
HOURS OF OPERATION
• Summer (May 1st to September 17th)
Mon – Fri 9:00am – 8:00pm
Sat/Sun 10:00am – 9:00pm
• Winter (September 18th to April 30th)
10:00am – 5:00pm
• Adult (19-64 yrs) $5.00
• Senior (65+) $3.48
• Youth (13-18 yrs) $3.48
• Child (3-12 yrs) $2.50
• Family (1-2 Adults of the same household and their children) *at child rate
• Pre-schoolers accompanied by Adult Free
• 10 or more Adults $3.71
• 10 or more Seniors $2.63
• 10 or more Youth $2.63
• 10 or more Children $1.88
• Bus Tours – Commercial $2.10
Off 33rd Avenue between Cambie and Main Streets
visit us on Flickr for more photos from bloedel conservatory
Contact Agnieszka Stryjecka for more information on Vancouver Real Estate. 778.991.5881 firstname.lastname@example.org