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Conservatory Chronicles
 Issue #53                                                                                                    
 March 2012
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
What's In Bloom?
Imperiale Youth Prize
JFK Upgrades
Gift Shop Sale
Playland Closes April 15
Be Conductor of the Day!
Community Calendar
Become a Member
In the Press
The Orchid Whisperer

Conservatory Chronicles


Morgan Davis 
Annie Abernethy, Eric Imperiale

Photo Contributors:
Devin Begley, Saxon Holt, Julie Michelle Photography      


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

Playland at the Conservatory Banner

Visit Us
Tuesday - Sunday

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


Please note that on Sundays and 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.


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.  

Plantosaurus Rex     

COF Dome
We have a team ready to help you plan your wedding or private event at the Conservatory of Flowers. Visit the website, download images and pricing info, or email for information about how to get started.


"When it rains, it pours."   

After enjoying such an unseasonably warm, dry winter, it comes as no surprise that we are finally getting inundated with downpours. This late winter precipitation is good, and necessary, for a green, healthy Golden Gate Park and its array of gardens and landscapes. Inside our 1879 Victorian glasshouse, the outside rainfall helps elevate the inside humidity levels by augmenting the tropical environment's moisture levels. Thank you, Mother Nature!

Springtime approaches, and Playland at the Conservatory draws to a close on April 15th. Meanwhile, the creative minds and capable hands of the Conservatory's staff and volunteers are busily preparing the next blockbuster exhibition Plantosaurus Rex when dinosaurs invade the Conservatory amid a prehistoric landscape. You won't want to miss the tremendous story of the evolution of plants and the many herbivores they sustained hundreds of millions of years ago.

Please maximize the value of your Conservatory membership during the coming months, and consider a gift membership for your family and's like giving flowers to them all year round! This support allows us to enhance the permanent plant collections while enriching the educational experience for students, locals and guests who are visiting from literally all corners of our global garden. Thanks again for your ongoing interest in the Conservatory of Flowers!

 Brent's signature 



Visit for ongoing updates on programs and special events at the Conservatory.
Here's a sneak preview of a few we can't wait to attend:

June 9 | Brooklyn-based jazz quartet Rose & the Nightingale premiere Spirit of the Garden in San Francisco at the Conservatory of Flowers, featuring local guests 

July 27
| Bollywood Nights, a spicy evening exploring the tropics of India and its evolution

August 6 | Quiet Lightning returns for a summer reading series in the greenhouse 

  Quiet Lightning Photographs by Julie Michelle Photography

Spring has arrived at our resurrection of San Francisco's west end amusements. Masdevalias, pansies, and miniature plants abound, creating a more colorful version of our Playland.
Playland in Bloom collage
Imperiale Youth PrizeCongratulations to this year's winner of the Imperiale Youth Prize! The Imperiale Youth Prize, which is awarded annually at the Pacific Orchid Exposition, recognizes cultural excellence by those seventeen and younger. The prize also exists to reinforce the enthusiasm of young growers who play an important role in the present and future of orchid growing, conservation, and research.

Jasen Liu, age fourteen, of Palo Alto took home the winning honor at the 2012 Pacific Orchid Exposition. With his great growing skills and beautiful yellow Masdevallia, Jasen proves that those of the next generation of orchid enthusiasts are worthy stewards.

Jasen likes orchids because "...they are fun to grow and so varied." He especially likes miniature pleurothallids and slipper orchids. Jasen became interested in orchids, "...when my parents kept killing Phalaenopsis and told me to read an orchid book. I was fascinated by the interesting plants and decided to start growing them." His advice to other growers is: "...research your plants before getting them and read, read, read."

Jasen brings home a first place ribbon, a rosette, a certificate of achievement, an exclusive sterling silver medal, and a tremendous sense of pride.

JFK lanes
Image: SFMTA

SF Streetsblog Learn more about the JFK bikeway upgrades happening in front of the Conservatory this spring.

Bon voyage! The 4th Annual Garden Railway exhibit is leaving this station on April 15th, and all special exhibit items are on sale! 

 Kids Tees

Playland at the Conservatory Merch
T-shirts NOW $11.25-12.50
Posters NOW $1.50, or $2.50 for both original and collector's edition designSquishy Train souvenirs
Magnet NOW $3.25
Squishy train toys NOW $3.25
Train whistle NOW $1.50

San Francisco's Playland at the Beach by James R. Smith  NOW $13.25
San Francisco's Lost Landmarks by James R. Smith NOW $8.75Playland Poster 1

Unfortunately, we are all sold out of the popular documentaries "Remembering Playland at the Beach" and "Sutro's: The Palace at Land's End." They can be ordered online.   


Thanks to a generous donation from Living Green and Flora Grubb Gardens, visitors entering the Conservatory, will observe beautiful new palms gracing the entry. Come see for yourself!

PLAYLAND CLOSES APRIL 15!  Frank the Playland DocentCome meet our Playland docent, Frank, and travel back in time to Playland at the Beach. Zoltar, the vintage photobooth, penny arcade games, old Dodger bumper car, fun house mirrors and miniature replicas are part of the original exhibit we created for this show, culled from different sources who collected pieces after Playland closed. The memories that people have shared with our docents and staff, the fun we had at the Green & Gold Gala preview, Member's Night, Aphrodesia and history lectures, and the friendships we've made with local historians and documentarians have been immensely special. It shows how much pride San Franciscan's have for their history, and how much interest there is in sharing and reinventing our unique culture. The show must come to a close, and won't be traveling or recreated again, so if you haven't visited yet, please come explore our homage to Playland before April 15! We'll be back with a peek into another chapter of San Francisco's history next year... and here's a little riddle revealing the era we'll pillage for more recreations: What's a pirates favorite month? Novemb-arrrgh!  



Last chance! The Conservatory of Flowers offers train enthusiasts of all ages the opportunity to be Conductor of the Day during the run
final weeks of Playland at the Conservatory. Join us before the Conservatory opens to visitors for your private Playland experience! Choo-choo!!
For more information, visit the website or contact Development Associate Eddie Edelson at or 415-577-2584.
Playland at the Conservatory is open Tuesdays - Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm, through April 15.  

The Conservatory ran a contest with the SF Examiner to collect your favorite memories of Playland. Visit for more readers tales of San Francisco's west end.

Vintage Playland tickets"I used to enjoy visiting Playland when I was a kid with family and also with organized Park &Rec schoolyard trips as I got older. That fun feeling of wandering in an admission-free carnival midway at the beach was something I only experienced there and on rare trips to Santa Cruz. A highlight for me was the food.  Things like corn dogs with mustard, cotton candy and It's Its were the greatest. You could watch them being made with the gigantic hand-packed scoops of vanilla ice cream, sandwiched with Mother's oatmeal cookies, then getting dipped in the vat of liquid chocolate.  They'd skewer them to harden up before selling them.  When Playland was closing in 1972, my parents figured that It's Its would be history.  So we packed up the green Coleman ice chest and drove out to Playland to stock up.  We sat in our blue VW bus and ate one It's It each.  Then, Mom said it would be okay to go buy and eat another each.  So we did. Then we bought some to take home for the freezer.  I can't recall how many we bought, but it wasn't all that many. I was glad to see that It's Its survived after Playland but the ones you buy now have a third the amount of ice cream, and they're just not like the kind you got at Playland in the old days. I miss Playland!" - Susan Y.

This month, did you see our award winning POE exhibit? Attend the first photography workshop at the Conservatory of Flowers? Learn about the Dendrobium blooms in Lowlands? Discover a new magic trick at Member's Night?   

Return of the 75 foot lady!Allen Rokach teaches COF Photography WorkshopDendrobiumRobert Strong Magician  
Don't miss a moment at the Conservatory...
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Share your photos, make recommendations and join the conversation!



Opening March 30
 Producer Bonni Cohen in attendence,
Friday & Saturday screenings 7:10 pm
 If you missed it at the San Francisco Green Film Festival,
 now is your chance to learn about the sinking Maldives and effects of climate change on this tropical country. 
$10.50 general, $8.25 Senior/Children/Matinees

March 31
Turn off your lights for one hour, to participate in the largest campaign for the environment on the planet.
8:30 pm

April 7
Sharon Meadows, Golden Gate Park
All ages welcome
11 am - 3 pm | $8

 April 11

Glass Jar Terrariums Building 

Workshop SF

8 am - 10 pm | $36



 April 14 & 15

April 21 & 22

Cherry Blossom Festival 


Grand Parade and Sunday Streets: Sunday, April 22


April 22

Earth Day SF

Civic Center Plaza 

10 am - 6 pm | FREE 




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.
Amy Stewart in the Conservatory

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 of Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants lecture by Advisory Council Member Saxon Holt.
  Volunteers bring their own bags at our Haight Street Whole Foods.
COLE HARDWARE IS GIVING the Conservatory of Flowers 10% OF YOUR PURCHASES!

MOLLIE STONE'S is giving us 5% of your grocery bill! Download this PDF to register.
and NICKELS FOR NON-PROFITS at the Whole Foods on Haight runs through March 31

Donate directly to us to support our programs, building and initiatives.


If you've haven't planned your visit to Playland yet, don't just take it from us! Read what the critics are saying, and visit our press page to view even more praise for Playland.


SF Chronicle Datebook Front page story in Datebook shares the surprise elements of Playland, chronicles visitors experiences and tells about the exhibit's unsung heroes. Then writer Peter Hartlaub challenges our staff to rig a video camera on a boat! Stay tuned, readers... 

San Francisco Chronicle Catherine Bigelow's Social City column notes that smell of corn dogs aloft on sea breezes could almost be detected at the Conservatory of Flowers during the Green & Gold Gala. She speaks with guests and Playland at the Conservatory sound designer Andrew Roth. 
ABC7 News Don Sanchez explores the thrills of Playland and chats with Exhibit Director Lau Hodges.    
Advisory Council Member and friend of the Conservatory Bruce Rogers has published a new book: The Orchid Whisperer: Expert Secrets for Growing Beautiful Orchids. Click here to pre-order the book through the Conservatory's Amazon Associates program. After watching the beautiful book trailer, shot onsite at the Conservatory, you won't be able to resist getting your hands on more of Bruce's wisdom and humor!
film still from Orchid Whisperer book trailer
View our videos on YouTube Film still by Roy Cox Productions 



   Hi Lumen Projector and Screen for Presentations 


Drape Sponsorship for the Orchid Gallery Interior Decoration Upgrade 


2 Podiums for Lectures and Presentations


Contact Morgan Davis with items for in kind donation, and visit for our up-to-date needs!




Conservatory Chronicles 5

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