Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bloedel Conservatory

Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC
The Bloedel Conservatory is located in Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The park stretches from West 29th to West 37th Avenue and across from Cambie to Main Street.  The Conservatory sits at the top of the hill overlooking the city, which if you haven't seen it, is an incredible view.  My first visits to this park were as a child.  My father grew up a few blocks from what was then called "Little Mountain".  Our family did not live in Vancouver but my father took us to visit the neighbourhood of his childhood and see the beautiful gardens.  As an adult  I moved to Vancouver, ironically just a few short blocks from my father's old home.  There I spent many happy hours at the park and in the gardens going for walks.  Jody and myself celebrated an anniversary dinner at Seasons in the Park, the restaurant there.  And I have spent many rainy afternoons inside the Conservatory lounging with Rosie, the African Grey parrot.

I am sorry that I don't have any photos to show you of this wonderful spot.  Unfortunately I did not have a digital camera at that time and I do not own a scanner now.  Let me instead paint a scene for you.  Picture yourself in a warm dome with the sun shining through.  Parrots are squawking and small birds fly through the trees.  A small lizard might run past your feet and the lush leaves of tropical plants brush your face.  A small stream trickles and fish occasionally dart by.  The Conservatory is an ecosystem supporting tropical flora, birds, fish and reptiles.

I was incredibly disappointed today to learn that the Conservatory is in jeopardy of being closed down.  The Vancouver Park Board has decided they can no longer afford to operate the Conservatory and are looking for private investors to take over or re-purpose the building.  All I can think is, where will Rosie go?  The birds and parrots within this building are free to fly throughout.  This is their home and it is a good one.  What of the hundreds of tropical plants and trees?  What about the lost educational opportunities?  While I understand finances are always a concern and this is an aging building which is costly to run it I'm angered because it feels so unnecessary.  Very few people realize the Conservatory exists.  I walked there once with a friend who asked what's this weird building for?  In fact Queen Elizabeth Park is used mainly by locals who live in the neighbourhood.  I lived in Vancouver for years and never once saw advertising or publicity for this spot.  There is no bus which takes you directly to the park but rather you get dropped off at the bottom of the hill on the main road and have to walk in over the lawn.  Depending on your age and your health this can be a major hindrance.  There is also very little parking so if you drive in it is also difficult.  You can't complain that something isn't popular and not bringing in money when you've done virtually nothing to support it.

Van Dusen Botanical Garden Association in conjunction with Friends of the Bloedel Conservatory have put together a proposal to take over this property and I have great hopes they will be allowed to do so. However, budget is always a concern when it comes to public spaces.  If you're interested in plants, gardens and promoting education of flora and fauna, please check out the link and consider donating a few dollars.  Better yet, if you're in the area, visit the Conservatory.  It could be the key to keeping this wonderful facility open.


  1. It's terrible that it's in such a bad way. I got an email about this today. I sure hope VanDusen Gardens is able to take it over. I think they would bring the consistency that the plants and animals need.

  2. I've met Rosie; she's a joy!! I spent some time volunteering at Van Dusen - such an awesome group of people are involved, I think they can come up with something!!!! Fingers crossed.......

  3. Hi Laura, you're right, Van Dusen does amazing work and hopefully they can take this on. They do have the benefit of lots of great volunteers and experience in fundraising, etc. Money is always such a concern though and I know Van Dusen has just spent a lot on working towards a new entry, layout and buildings. This stresses me out so.

    Aagaard - small world. I too was a Van Dusen volunteer. I worked in seed collectors, teaching assistants and, of course, the plant sale. Can't remember exactly when but it was probably 2 - 3 years ago. and you?