Conservatory Logo
Conservatory Chronicles
 Issue #40                                                                                                        
 February, 2011
In This Issue
Wicked Plants Preview
Geeks in Love
Community Calendar
Wish List
What's In Bloom?
Last 2 Weeks of Trains!
Pacific Orchid Exposition
COF History
SF Green Film Festival Preview
Interview with the Wine Sisters
Music in the Parks Tickets on Sale
In the Gift Shop
High School Writing Competition

Conservatory Chronicles


Morgan Davis 
Content Contributers:
Morgan Davis, Michelle Manzer 
Photograph Contributers: 
Morgan Davis, Michelle Manzer, Hilary Shaw
Visit the       Garden Railway... before the train leaves the station!
Railway Banner
Now through March 13!

Visit Us
Tuesday - Sunday

10am - 4:30pm (last entry is at 4:00pm)

The Conservatory is closed on Mondays.


Please note that on Sundays and all major holidays, Golden Gate Park closes many of its roads to all vehicle traffic.

Information line:


$7.00 for Adults

$5.00 for Youth 12-17, Seniors age 65 & over, and College Students with ID

$2.00 for Children 5-11

Free for Children 4 and under


Discounts available to all San Francisco City and County residents with proof of residency
The Conservatory is free to all visitors on the first Tuesday of every month.


The Conservatory Of Flowers is wheelchair accessible for both motorized and non motorized chairs. Handicap permit parking is located at the east side of the building and also on John F. Kennedy Drive in front of the Conservatory. Strollers are not allowed in the Conservatory.


 Save the Date!

Wicked Plants Book Cover
WICKED PLANTS: Botanical Rogues and Assassins
creeps into the Conservatory on
April 7, 2011.

Members, be weary, and keep the weeds away from the mailbox - you'll soon receive an invitation, beckoning you to the Conservatory for an exclusive preview on April 6,
 from 6:30 - 9:00 pm. We hope you'll join us for the deadly delights!  


Alison and Nathan

One of the 2010 COF weddings was the marriage of two creative and crafty minds. Their big day was recently featured in 7x7's wedding blog.


Read the full article online:


 Tech Geek Wedding at Conservatory of Flowers

Photo Credits: Mapurunga Photography

Ryan Anson's bouquet photo

Weddings, Corporate Luncheons, Office Holiday Parties... See how our event spaces will work for your private party. Visit the website for more information or contact Events Manager Morgan Davis at

Potted Plants Gallery event photo

Photo Credits: Top, Ryan Anson Photography, Bottom, Morgan Davis



March 3 - 6

San Francisco Orchid Society's 59th

Pacific Orchid Exposition

"Natural Wonders" 


March 3

Gala Benefit Preview

6:00 - 10:30 pm


March 4 - 6

Friday,   10 am - 6 pm

    Saturday,  9 am - 6 pm Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm

 Fort Mason Center 


 March 3 - 6

San Francisco Green Film Festival

Landmark Theaters Embarcadero Center Cinema 


March 10 - 27

As Always - Music in the Parks, benefitting
 the San Francisco Parks Trust


March 15 - 19 

27th annual Bouquets to Art 

the deYoung Museum 


March 23 - 27

San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

San Mateo Events Center

Donate Now!
Purple orchid photo by Todd Worley

 Your donation will help ensure the continued growth and success of this unique educational and historic living museum. 
Click here to make a donation through our secure online form.  

Conservatory of Flowers

Wish List 

Bamboo Flooring donation for the Orchid Gallery


1 or 2 Podiums for lectures and presentations


Beverage Containers for Special Events


Garment racks and hangers for Event Coat Check


New stanchions for the entrance


Flashlights for Jungle Guides and Docents


Contact Morgan Davis with items for in kind donation!


Help us Grow...
Upload Photos and Share your Experiences! 
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Facebook

Conservatory Chronicles 5

Miss an issue? Looking for a specific article? Read previous issues of the Conservatory Chronicles in our archives.   
Join Our Mailing List 


"Come to your Senses!"


Connecting people to plants is one of our primary purposes at the Conservatory of Flowers. As human beings, we have so many different ways to "connect" and experience plants. The sensations visitors engage when they enter the Conservatory are not limited to a visual appreciation of our colorful vegetation. The moisture in the air relaxes the visitor. The fragrance that floats from gallery to gallery leads the visitor from plant to plant. After hours visitors will hear geckos and crickets chirping, cohabitating with our plant collection. And not to diminish the visual perception, the spectrum of vivid colors actually found in nature isn't the only variation between plants. Examining their different textures, shapes and size - from the colossal plants in the Lowlands Gallery to the miniscule orchids in the New Guinea Highlands collection - reveals the magic of the natural world.


Take time during your next visit to more closely explore and study our extensive and valuable tropical plant collections. Challenge yourself to select a favorite, then ask yourself for what reasons that particular plant is so appealing to you; which sensation is this plant triggering?  Is it the appearance of unique foliage or flowers? Maybe its fragrance or fruit? Perhaps there is not a physical sensation, but an emotional history between you, and the plant. Did you grow them in a childhood garden? Receive them from a secret admirer on Valentine's Day?


We encourage you to reflect on these sensations and experiences each time you visit, and ask you to continue to be our plant ambassadors, sharing your reflections with the community.


Brent's signature

Brent Dennis

Thanks to everyone who came out for Jungle Love!
Dancing in Potted PlantsOver four hundred visitors joined us as the Conservatory transformed into a romantic venue, and a swingin' dance hall with the musical stylings of Le Quartet de Jazz. Guests also heard the nostalgic clicking of the poetry store's typewriter, as poems poured forth, chronicling budding young love!  
Visitors enjoyed the Pacific Brewing Laboratory's Valentines fare in the Garden Railway Exhibit. Our sincere apologies to those who did not get a chance to taste the Clara Street IPA, Love Potion PPacific Brewing Laboratoriesorter, or Hibiscus Saison. The beer lovers in attendance quickly finished off our supplies! (We'll be getting more next time!) Grape lovers, and perhaps some hops converts, enjoyed the romantic Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc labels of, a new winery with a commitment to our planet. (Read on for an interview with the women behind the wine, and for a 30% COF fan discount, in this issue!)
  Le Quarter de Jazz in Potted Plants
Due to the wildly popular nature of the event, we'll be launching a monthly after hours evening. We hope you will join us again, as we open our doors after hours on April 20th! Stay tuned for more details. Visit magbooth blog and wines to see more event video and photos!



Keep your head up as you enter the Lowlands Gallery, and you might glimpse the blossoms of the Asoka tree. February is the traditional beginning of this tree's flowering season, but this tree has been in the Conservatory's collection for years and has never produced flowers! What makes this year different? The staff and volunteers have been puzzled, with a range of conjectures. As many of the pest management techniques we use are natural, they involve pruning infested branches, rather than attacking an infestation with toxins. Potentially, the pruning reoccurred each year, interfering with the bloom schedule. Two other theories involved light: without the funds to 'Frost the Conservatory' we have not been able to whitewash the building properly, potentially allowing for a new level of photosynthesis to occur. Perhaps, another plant in proximity to the Asoka tree had not been pruned in previous years, and this year, when pruned, the Asoka tree accessed a new amount of light.


Like many of nature's gems, you'll have to experience this with your own eyes. The blossoms are far above eye level, as the branches approach the high ceiling of the central gallery. One COF gardener even climbed up a ladder to try to capture the rare blooms on camera to no avail! When you enter the Conservatory, take the right path through Lowlands, and before you reach the entrance to the Highlands Gallery, look up. (Or look down, to read the plant labels and make sure you're looking at the correct plant!) The reddish orange flowers look like clumps of fireworks bursting above!

Garden Railway collage
The popular Garden Railway exhibit leaves the COF station on March 13. If you haven't stopped by to check out the miniature replica of Golden Gate Park, now is the time! And while you're there, hear the Castro's pipe organ, watch as the trolley car climbs through the Financial District, and wave to Thomas as he whizzes past the Painted Ladies!


There are also a few spots left for Conductor of the Day! For more information, contact Development Associate Eddie Edelson at To reserve your date a non-refundable donation of $50 to the Conservatory of Flowers is required. If you've been postponing your reservation to start the engine and holler "All Aboard!", don't hesitate!   
Natural Wonders PosterDiscounted tickets are available online for the Pacific Orchid Exposition Gala, benefitting the Conservatory of Flowers. The $35 ticket includes a preview of this year's extensive group of orchid growers from across the Pacific, and the first opportunity to purchase unique specimens. The Fort Mason Pavillion fills with color, and the evening is filled with energy, as live music accompanies the extensive buffet and wine tasting. Last year, our horticulturalists' exhibit took home a number of awards. Be sure to stop by our display, and say hello to our staff and volunteers manning our info booth throughout the weekend! Visit for tickets and info.

Chronicle Archive

With the wacky weather we're experiencing in the Bay Area, forecasters are scratching their heads, and predicting a layer of snow on the ground in SF this weekend! Peter Hartlaub, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and father of COF fans, dug through the Chronicle Archives to find photos of previous storms in San Francisco, discovering this image of the Conservatory in a snowy 1887. Read the full article on Peter's SFGate parenting blog. Thanks to Peter for the photo! Have your camera ready for the rare snowy photo this weekend, and if you capture any of the COF, please share on Find us on Facebookacebook!  


Photo: Courtesy Edward Brown & Lorio / The Chronicle Archives  



The Conservatory of Flowers is proud to be a community partner for the first San Francisco Green Film Festival! The event will combine films, panels and parties to raise awareness of local and international environmental issues. Kicking off on March 3, the films will run Thursday through Sunday at the Landmark Theaters Embarcadero, followed by events and discussions that will launch movie-goers into action.

Back to the Garden 

Highlights include a short films

program on March 5, entitled California Water that will be followed by a free panel discussion with the filmmakers. Later that evening, the film Back to the Garden: Flower Power Comes Full Circle premieres in the Bay Area. In this documentary, filmmaker Kevin Tomlinson revisits the group of "hippies" living off the grid that he had interviesfgff verticalwed in 1988, and learns what has become of their utopian dreams. The film will be followed by a 21+ after party.      


Visit for more information. Click here for a full schedule!

Image is a still from the film Back to the Garden, courtesy SFGFF 



Robin and Andrea McBride

Getting to know the
energetic McBrides and their innovative wine has been a treat, and I wanted to share my discovery with all of you. We served their Reisling and Sauvignon Blanc at Jungle Love! and I had the opportunity to ask them a few questions about their   


Conservatory Chronicles: What is each of your roles with


Andrea: The Sauvignon Blanc is my wine, it's my obsession. I define the overall profile of the wine in a way that expresses the pretty elements of the grape and results in people drinking copious amounts! I also focus on all the creative and digital aspects of the brand along with Robin - the iPhone app, social media campaigns, events - we really touch everything.


Robin: I make the Riesling. It's such a beautiful wine varietal to work with. All the floral aromas expressed by the grape really jump right out of the glass. And then the mouth feel and body is so polished, and easy to drink. How can you go wrong with flowers and honey?!


CC: Consumers will notice a green label certifying your wine as a Carbonzero product. What does this mean?


Andrea: Sustainability is our passion. It is about people and the planet and carboNZero Certis a component of sustainability. The CZ program was developed by Landcare Research New Zealand and provides the tools to measure and reduce the impact on climate change by following the 3 Ms: Measure, Management, and Mitigation. We measure our carbon footprint, which covers all Green House Gases with respect to the vineyards, vehicles, and winery operations. Natural gas use, electricity and fuel all emit CO2, through the burning of carbon based fossil fuels, packaging, shipping and distribution. Once everything had been measured we created an emissions profile, and focused on areas to reduce energy consumption. We directed efforts towards finding energy efficient alternatives, saving on electricity and fuel. Mitigation is where we 'offset' the effect of CO2 emissions our company releases into the atmosphere. To do this we purchased carbon credits towards the restoration of natural wetlands.


Robin: We are really proud of this, it takes time and patience and the commitment to be better ever year. CZ is really our badge of honor, and an indicator to people that they can make good green choices. Hold on, DELICIOUS green choices! 


CC: Yes! On Wednesday, we served the Riesling from South Island, NZ and the Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, NZ. What brought your attention to the New Zealand areas?


McBride sisters read their poetry store poem.Andrea: Robin and I are half sisters, both born in LA, but I was raised in New Zealand wine country and she was raised in Monterey, CA. Our first wine adventure together is NZ; it's so pure and untouched and the wines are good solo or with food. 


Robin: Our grapes are grown in the major growing region of Marlborough and Nelson at the top of the South Island. It's what we have a lot of experience in, so it was an easy choice. 


CC: Do you see other companies and vineyards in America considering sustainability?


Andrea: There is a company in Mendocino called Parducci paving the way for US wine companies.  


Robin: Also Newton Vineyards in Napa. The industry is starting to move in the right direction.


CC: What are other ways our reading wine consumers can make sustainable choices, or learn about other sustainable products?


Andrea: Ecofabulous. They do a great job joining sustainability & style.


Robin:  I like Care2 Healthy and Green Living. Great tips and articles.                                     


Many thanks to Andrea and Robin McBride for their dedication to sustainability, as well as their support and generosity! For more info, and a 30% discount on Wines*, visit and use code COF at checkout! 


*excludes Sister Set and Club  

Photo of McBrides in vineyard courtesy of MossMedia


As Always graphicComing in March, don't miss a special benefit for San Francisco Parks Trust's Music in Parks Program -- As Always, a world premiere musical at the Eureka Theatre. Composer Peter W. Tucker was first introduced to theatre decades ago in a Rec. & Park youth theatre program, and gives back to parks with twelve shows featuring a lush score and award-winning performers!  Join us for a special post-show reception opening night, March 10th, or attend any performance March 10-27 to help support Music in Parks. Buy tickets, listen to music, and watch video at (1.800.838.3006 for tickets via phone). COF members and park supporters receive 20% off tickets by using the discount code COF when ordering online or via phone.



Glob! Nature Inspired Creativity


"Botanically crafted colors made from Glob! Nature Inspired Creativityfruits, vegetables, flowers and spices with food-grade ingredients. All paints are water based (which means that they can be used inside the Conservatory!), made in the USA, and are gluten-free and vegan."


Natural Color Blend Paint Kit, $10.50 each

Comes with 6 color packets, 6 compostable containers and 2 bamboo brushes.


Individual Color Packets, $2.50 each

6 varieties of color for your creativity!


All things GARDEN RAILWAY are now 40% off!


Connie ModelGarden Railway Kids Tees (sizes 2-12) are now $11.70 each

Garden Railway Baby Tees (sizes 3-18mos) are now $10.50 each

Garden Railway Conductor Hats (one size) are now $8.35 each

Garden Railway Magnets are now $3.30


All train toys are also 40% off!Garden Railway Items

2-Tone Train Whistles are now $2.70 each

4-Tone Train Whistles are now $3.60 each

Whoo Whoo Train Keychains are now $3.30 each

Pull Back Trains are now $2.40 each


For even more shopping convenience, visit our online store for Garden Railway 3 souvenirs and COF gift certificates!


In memory of the late Barbara Pitschel, head librarian at San Francisco Botanical Garden library for 30 years, an essay competition has been established for San Francisco high school students. The subject is California plants or gardens.  Three cash prizes will be awarded and the first prize winner's essay will be published in Pacific Horticulture.


Entries to be submitted by March 31, 2011. Donations are also sought. For information, visit or download contest details here.