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Presentation Topics:

Secret GardenWalks: Europe
Wine Country Gardens
21st Century Gardens
Great Gardens/Great Plants

Botanical Gardens

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers: Glorious, Historic Greenhouse

A detailed restoration true to the roots of its historic architecture sets apart the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park,  a glorious structure standing as the country’s oldest public glass and wood greenhouse.  You’ll doubtless find it easy to spend hours roaming through the Lowland Tropics and Highland Tropics rooms teeming with rarities both towering and tiny. Tropical specimens in the moist environs of the lowland gallery include a 100 year-old philodendron and ‘economic’ plants like bananas reaching skyward.

Potted Plants Gallery © Alice Joyce

I’m drawn to the lush Victorian displays in the Potted Plants gallery, with its wooden arbor acting as a focal point that draws visitors to enter and explore arrays of fabulous foliage and flowering species.

The current exhibit beguiles with an educational foray into the life cycle of butterflies and moths. The atmosphere is pure magic, as butterflies swoop and flutter about the gallery. One sweet creature landed on my hand and rested there for minutes until I made a slight movement. In a case filled with butterfly and moth pupa, visitors may observe the transformation taking place when a chrysalis begins to vibrate, and an adult emerges.

S F Conservatory Butterflies and Blooms © Alice Joyce

My visit coincided with a very special get-together …

The Garden Bloggers Fling 2013 celebrated a delectable dinner gathering in the Conservatory’s event space.

The Conservatory of Flowers provided a perfect setting for the group, coming together from near and far to relax after the Fling’s first day in the City by the Bay. A brilliant evening … enjoyed by all!
San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

Exotic orchids abound…

Orchid © Alice Joyce

Overhead in the Aquatic Plants gallery, a beautiful rendition of the giant Amazon water lily, Victoria amazonica ~ hovers in space;  an eye-catching sculptural highlight of the gallery.

Victoria amazonica Water Lily Sculpture © Alice Joyce

These wondrous lily pads can grow to 8 feet in diameter; one of the wonders of the tropical watershed.

SF Conservatory of Flowers © Alice Joyce

Verdant displays offer delightful experiences in each of the Conservatory’s gallery rooms.

Anthurium cultivar © Alice Joyce

Shown below on the right: A living green wall constructed by Chris Bribach ~ Plants On Walls ~ welcomes you upon entering the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. The colorful, textural expanse of flora creates just the right note as visitors prepare to experience the communities of plants awaiting inside each of the five distinctive galleries.

Conservatory Green Wall © Alice Joyce


Butterflies Blooms Exhibit © Alice Joyce


San Francisco

San Francisco Welcomes .. the Garden Bloggers Fling!

The Garden Bloggers are coming to town!

After the bloggers have visited a trove of the Bay Area’s great gardens, all lined up in a stellar itinerary that includes Filoli to the iconic landscape of the Ruth Bancroft Garden and The Wave Garden,

Wave Garden Vista View © Alice Joyce

… there are a few more special settings the bloggers might consider squeezing into their visit to the City By The Bay:

Thomas Church-designed pocket park ~ one of San Francisco’s Secret Gardens … Fay Park

Fay Park – Thomas Church Design Photo © Alice Joyce

Another must-see: the city’s beautiful community effort mosaic work ~ the Tiled Steps … 

San Francisco Tiled Steps Photo © Alice Joyce

Perhaps if you’re reading this and you’ve recently seen Andy Goldsworthy’s Spire in the Presidio

Goldsworthy – The Spire – Photo © Alice Joyce

you might leave a comment to tell me how it’s holding up.

That’s all for now.

Check back for a report on the Fling Dinner to be held this Friday at  The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

Click here to read my 2004 Garden Walks column, when the Conservatory of Flowers celebrated its 125th birthday!

Hotels & Inns

The Willows ... Chicago Touring

Always find myself thinking about Chicago ’round this time of year…

The Willows Hotel - Chicago

Where to stay in a city with countless boutique hotels? I’ve chosen The Willows Hotel on Chicago’s North Side most often for its convenient location, and for ease of movement on public transportation.

No matter the season, I always plan a sojourn to stroll through the Lurie Garden, and I check to see if there’s a free concert scheduled in the gorgeous Gehry-designed bandshell in Millennium Park.

Chicago Millennium Park Footbridge and Rill Photo © Alice Joyce

Summer, of course, is a time of lush and colorful plantings throughout the city and especially the downtown area. First-time visitors are often delightfully surprised by the lavish displays of foliage and flowers.

Chicago Millennium Park Plantings Photo © Alice Joyce

For all my friends from abroad, I’d advise the following: If you cannot arrange a visit during the lovely Springtime awakening of Chicago’s gardens and landscapes, or if you shy away from tourist crowds in Summer, then be sure to visit in September ~ a most beguiling month.

One way or another, Spring or Fall, Chicago always draws me back. Am I boasting when I say that my home town is one of the friendliest, most vibrant urban destinations you can include in an itinerary when putting together a tour of the United States?  I don’t believe so!

Below: A view of the Art Institute of Chicago –  Pritzker Garden

AIC Pritzker Garden E. Kelly's White Curve Photo © Alice Joyce