Location: 4600 Cambie Street,, Vancouver, BC
Opening Date: December 6, 1969
At the time of its opening in 1969, Bloedel Conservatory was the second largest domed conservatory in the world. Sited at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, an extinct volcano famous for being the highest point in Vancouver (152 m above sea level), the conservatory is a major draw for nature enthusiasts and view-seekers alike.
Bloedel Conservatory’s triodetic dome design measures 140 feet in diameter and 70 feet high at the center, allowing for a large ground space to be spanned without the need for supporting columns. The 1,490 acrylic glass bubbles that cover the surface of the dome light up at night.
Three simulated climates are maintained within the Conservatory: tropical rain forest, sub-tropical forest, and desert climate zones. Other than the lush and colorful plant palette, the conservatory is also home to over one hundred birds of various species that fly free within the dome.
The explosion of exotic colors, scents and bird songs are a real treat, especially on a wet and overcast winter day. Christmas was also in the air at Bloedel: long lengths of Christmas lights wound their way up tree trunks and bright, big clusters of red poinsettias flourished in every corner. But Bloedel Conservatory isn’t particularly large, and after having visited some truly stunning and expansive conservatories–Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory tops the list–Vancouver’s hilltop gem isn’t the most captivating that I’ve been to. I would, however, be compelled to return during the summer, if not for the lush tropical gardens, then for the view. On the day of my actual visit to the conservatory, the usually stunning view towards downtown Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains was obscured by rain and clouds. I returned a few days later on a clearer morning for a peek at that famous Vancouver backdrop.