Conservatory Logo
Conservatory Chronicles
 Issue #49                                                                                                     
November, 2011
In This Issue
Holiday Hours
Holiday Party Rentals
Become a Member
Playland Arrives at the Conservatory
New Addition to Hort Staff
Nutcracker Ballet on Dec. 14
In the Gift Shop
December 10 Frosting the Conservatory Returns
Partners at Cole Hardware
Green & Gold Gala Photos
Community Calendar
Wish List
In the Press

Conservatory Chronicles


Morgan Davis 
Content Contributors:
Nina Sazevich

Photo Contributors:
Devin Begley  


This year's Garden Railway takes you on a trip through time...  

Playland at the Conservatory Banner

Visit Us
 Holiday Hours:
Tuesday - Sunday

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

The Conservatory is closed on Mondays, and will be closed on Thanksgiving Thursday. It will also be closed on Christmas and New Year's Day, and will close at 2 PM on December 24.  


Please note that on Sundays and on Thanksgiving Thursday, 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.


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.  


Alison and Nathan

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

Read the full article online:

 Tech Geek Wedding at Conservatory of Flowers 

Photo Credits: Mapurunga Photography

Garden Railway 2009
Theme your Party:

Design your own event:
 ~ Cocktail Reception ~
~ Dinner & Dancing ~
~ After Hours Tour ~

Click here for more info on tours and booking, or email!

Become a Member!

With an exciting, constantly changing program of special exhibitions and seasonal delights,
the Conservatory of Flowers is a great place to bring the whole family more than once a year.
Members admire plants in Aquatics Gallery.

Visit our website to learn about the various tiered benefits for membership levels, and to join!


All membership levels include the following benefits:

* Year-round free admission   

 *10% discount in the Conservatory Gift Shop and selected merchants including Flora Grubb Gardens and The Urban Farmer Store

 * Invitation to exclusive members-only events and discounts for select special events

* Monthly 'Conservatory Chronicles' enews subscription annual print newsletter

* Knowledge that you are an important steward of the historic Conservatory of Flowers

* Reciprocal privileges at more than 250 horticultural organizations in North America through the AHS.


Photo by Photographer and Jungle Pass Member Matt Laws



"Of All Things Green"


A few steps across the threshold into the 1879 Conservatory of Flowers and you are literally overwhelmed by the lush greenness of the tropical plant collections! It is amazing how many different shades of green exist within the phenomenal foliage of our jungle. Annually, thousands of children on school field trips are introduced to the Conservatory's green 'photosynthesis machine' and breathe in the 'best oxygen' in San Francisco. Beyond the green spectrum that surrounds the students for their "class under glass," the Conservatory's botanical bounty boasts a rainbow of colors, showcased upon the verdant background. The floral stars offer excellent lessons on pollination, economic food plants, and adaptation within nature for the learning community we serve. Symbolically, the color connotes a mindset and focus upon conservation, sustainable living practices, and environmental sensitivity...all of which are important aspects of the Conservatory's vision for education.


This year our annual gala adopted the color green, too. The Green & Gold Gala took place on Thursday, November 17th and was once again hailed as the event of the season for our many members and supporters who kicked off the holiday season and enjoyed a special preview of Playland at the Conservatory. For the fourth year, the Conservatory presents it wildly popular garden railway exhibit, introducing a fun-filled homage to Playland at the Beach, a rich part of Golden Gate Park's history.


The holiday season will be a busy one at the Conservatory. I encourage you to plan to visit us often and share the beauty of all things green. Thank you for your ongoing support and interest in seeing the Conservatory of Flowers grow. During these days leading up to Thanksgiving, I am reminded of how thankful we all are of your steadfast support and generosity. Go Green!

 Brent's signature 

Brent Dennis


FunHouse and Trolley Car

We want to welcome you to Playland at the Conservatory. This year our

Garden Railway takes you back in time, to the West End Amusements of yesteryear. It's a trip down memory lane for anyone who remembers flying down the 5-story slide in the Fun House or eating Playland's own ice cream invention, the It's It, while strolling the midway. No doubt the recreated Playland at the Beach will be the star of the Garden Railway. What started in 1913 as a loose collection of rides and shooting galleries owned separately by various concessionaires officially became known as Playland at the Beach in 1926. Reincarnated attractions include Laffing Sal, a Dodger Bumper Car, the toothpick amusement park originally

displayed  in Sutro's Baths, and arcade games from the forgotten eras. Step into the 1960s functioning photobooth, snap your own photos in the funhouse mirrors, or get your future told by Zoltar. In miniature, you'll see trains weave around the Rock-O-Plane (made out of pencil sharpeners!), the Diving Bell, and other tiny thrills!


This exhibit is a departure from the serene atmosphere you'll find in the other galleries, with plenty to see, hear and do! Here through April 15, 2012. Make a trip this winter to Playland at the Conservatory!  

The newest addition to our horticulture team started on November 10! When asked about his new duties as Garden Assistant, Larry replied, "It looks like I'll be wearing many hats around here, helping out with anything that needs to get done. I'm really excited to be here." Larry has already jumped in, getting a chance to work on the construction of the Playland at the Conservatory exhibit, learning about the new Compost Tea initiative (stay posted for the Dec. enews to learn more about this!) and most recently, baking a pumpkin pie from scratch for the staff and volunteers to enjoy. With Larry, we now have a horticulture staff of five. We look forward to his contributions around the greenhouse, and are already grateful for his positive attitude and warmth around the property. Be sure to say hello if you see him helping in the galleries, while visiting. Welcome to the Conservatory, Larry!
Did you know that the Conservatory of Flowers Victorian architecture inspired the set design for San Francisco Ballet's production of Nutcracker ? To celebrate, SF Ballet is offering Conservatory of Flowers subscribers an exclusive holiday discount: $10 off Nutcracker tickets for performances on Wednesday, December 14, 2011!
To redeem your Conservatory of Flowers discount:
ORDER ONLINE for 2pm or 7pm performances and enter promo code CONSnut, or by phone, at 415.865.2000, Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm and mention promo code CONSnut.

* Special $10 off savings offer excludes Box, Orchestra Front Side, and Balcony Side seating sections. Offer is subject to availability and change, and expires on 12/01/2011. Promotion codes are for one-time use and not to be combined with other offers and discounts, and does not apply to previously purchased tickets.
To learn more about how the Conservatory inspired SF Ballet's Nutcracker, go to


The approaching holidays and school vacations provide a lot of time to spend together as families. Whether you're traveling to visit nephews and nieces or grandchildren, or hosting your relatives, crafting together can be a fun way to get to know each other, practice cooperating, and express creativity! And of course, crafts that encourage you to spend time outdoors and in the garden, are always refreshing. These fun kits offer seeds and gardening tips to various skill levels, and teach you how to hang bird-feeders and wind-chimes in your outdoor space.  


Sow Grow Kits $13.95

Scatter Gardens $12.00  

Grow Me Kits $7.00

Tweet Tweet Birdhouses $10.50

Paint-a-Birdfeeder $12.00

Paint a Windchime $9.50 


Enjoy your holiday traditions with your family, but when you want to get them out of the house, bring 'em over to our greenhouse! While you're here, don't miss out on the fun new Playland themed items in the Gift Shop. Tom Wyrsh's Remembering Playland documentary is available on DVD, as well as books by historian James R. Smith: these are great for giving younger folks and out of towners a San Francisco history lesson. Plus, we've got clown noses, train whistles, toy trains, and actual Playland ticket stubs. Playland at the Conservatory tee shirts, magnets, films and books are also available for purchase online.

Mark your calendars for upcoming engagements at the Conservatory. You can always visit the website for more upcoming programming and ticket information.


Frosting the Conservatory!    
DATE: Saturday, December 10, 2011

TIME: 11 AM to 3 PM (drop in anytime)


Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park
100 John F. Kennedy Drive  

$10 material fee per building (does not include admission) 

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND, a winter workshop for the whole family. You'll receive delectable building supplies to construct the greenhouse of your dreams. Sink your teeth into the holidays with this fun edible architecture event for the whole family. Drop in between 11 AM and 3 PM, and you'll receive delectable building supplies including Graham Crackers, frosting and candy treats to construct the mini greenhouse of your dreams. Take it home for the holiday table, or eat it right on the spot.

To register, click here or visit No need to make a reservation for a specific time, just let us know you're coming, and we'll have supplies ready.

RSVP to the event Like us on Facebookacebook, and invite more friends! 



COLE HARDWARE IS GIVING the Conservatory of Flowers 10% OF YOUR PURCHASES!

The Conservatory is a member of Cole Hardware's School and Community Partnership program. Cole Hardware gives us 10% of purchases made by you, every day of the year! Earn money for us while shopping for your hardware needs at any Cole Hardware location. The more you spend, the more they donate to us! Ask the cashier to post your purchase to the Conservatory of Flowers. You can mention partner #21401 at the checkout.

It's that simple!

You can donate to our wishlist account, from which we can purchase from Cole Hardware at a substantial discount. That will really help!

What a sensational evening! To launch the opening of Playland at the Conservatory, we hosted the annual Green & Gold Gala on Thursday, November 17. With an outstanding crowd, dressed to the nines in green, gold and themed costumes with feathers, fringe, beads, sashes, and hats, we danced the night away, while raising significant funding for our Youth Education Program. Our Sunset neighbors, Pacific Catch, catered the VIP reception with their zesty selection of poke and ceviche. The Global Gourmet passed scrumptious hors d'oeuvres throughout the event. Fork & Spoon spun a sophisticated take on the boardwalk theme preparing empanadas and churros, while Straw Carnival Fare popped truffle oil popcorn and served their classic Ringmaster: the burger on a house-glazed doughnut. The Decobelles, a local dance troupe full of art deco beauties, stole the show with multiple costume changes, hilarious expressions and well-executed dance moves. Swing Fever provided the rest of the night's entertainment, with a sound that transformed the Orchid Gallery into a jazz hall of yesteryear.

A silent auction stuffed to the brim with generous donations from our supporters was also a trip, with tickets to the Nutcraker, the Symphony, the SF Green Film Festival, and 49ers games, a Mexican getaway to Cabo San Lucas, a five-night cottage rental in Napa, original art, jewelery, and holiday living wreaths. Those who did not place the winning bid still took home bags of candy, from the Conservatory's Candy Bar. Patrons took home gift bags with a documentary by Tom Wyrsh and other themed goodies, and a couple married at the Conservatory this July took home the door prize: a stay at the Hotel Adagio. 
View more photos of the Gala on our facebook page.
Thanks to all of our in-kind donors, who made the evening a swinging success:
In kind donors for Green & GoldAnd a special thank you to the hard work, creativity and can-do efforts of our brilliant Gala Chairs, Meryl Mikal and Kelly Hansmann.
Gala Chairs Meryl Mikal and Kelly Hansmann, with Conservatory Director Brent Dennis.

Gala Photos by Devin Begley Photography.


"I want it to look like nothing else in the world... and it should be surrounded by a train." Walt Disney was referring to his vision for Disneyland, and his love of trains is apparent at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco's scenic Presidio where visitors can view one of the most intricately detailed miniature live-steam home railroads ever created: the Lilly Belle, the one-eighth scale Carolwood Pacific Railroad that Walt helped build in his backyard. Plus, all month long in October, see The Great Locomotive Chase on the big screen at the Museum. Conservatory friends: Print out this email and bring it the Museum for $3 off admission. Valid for up to 4 people, through December 31, 2011.

ABOUT THE MUSEUMWalt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum presents the fascinating story and achievements of Walt Disney, the man who raised animation to an art, transformed the film industry, tirelessly pursued innovation, and created a global and distinctively American legacy. Opened in October 2009, the 40,000 square foot facility features the newest technology and historic materials and artifacts to bring Disney's achievements to life, with interactive galleries that include early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, a 14-foot model of Disneyland and much more.





Sunday, November 27

Succulent Craft at Flora Grubb Gardens

 11 AM - 12 PM 

Come for a demonstration of the many ways to use succulents in decoration - from everlasting bouquets and centerpieces, to otherworldly forest sculptures, terrariums and dish gardens, guided by Flora Grubb Gardens' own Patrick Lannan - one of our garden-design specialists. He'll discuss the nuts and bolts of using succulents in craft and the basics of care for these charming "forever flowers."


Monday, December 5  

Quiet Lightning's Neighborhood Heroes  

Beat Box | 314 11th Street.

7:30 PM 

$5 Donation  


Thursday, December 8

82nd Annual Holiday Tree Lighting

McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park

501 Stanyan Street (and Fell)

5 PM






Hand Carts and Dolleys for Daily Operations


   Hi Lumen Projector and Screen for Presentations 


Drape Sponsorship for the Orchid Gallery Interior Decoration Upgrade 


2 Podiums for Lectures and Presentations


Chalk Board for Announcing Upcoming Events and Deals 


Flashlights for Jungle Guides and Docents


Contact Morgan Davis with items for in kind donation!




NEW ABC7 News Don Sanchez explores the thrills of Playland and chats with Exhibit Director Lau Hodges.

NEW KTVU Lau Hodges explains the Seaside Amusements of San Francisco's past, highlighted in this year's Garden Railway, and demonstrates the charms of the 1930s bumper car.

Richmond Blog SF Dig into the stories behind the exhibit to learn how the Conservatory accumulated all the nostalgic and novel elements of the Playland exhibit.  

NEW A photo slideshow of the Playland Exhibit.  

Go behind the scenes on one of our Jungle Tours!

The San Francisco Chronicle Leah Garchik gets literary with Quiet Lightning.  


SF Recreations & Parks Get Out & Play View our videos on YouTube features interviews with Amy Stewart and Exhibits Director Lau Hodges, and introduces viewers to the bewitching plants.           


Conservatory Chronicles 5

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