A Moment in Time At Conservatory of Flowers

A marker100 John F. Kennedy Drive San Francisco, CA -
100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
[get directions]

I love greenhouses because they protect plants that cannot normally grow in that area. Through a greenhouse, you can control the humidity and temperature as well as protect the plants from any harsh elements such as wind, rain, sun, and snow.You do not have to worry about seasons or lack of lighting. You can make it steamy and tropical year round. You can grow plants in the dead of winter so your avid gardening does not have to wait for Spring.

One of my favorite greenhouses is the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, located in Golden Gate Park. James Lick, a wealthy businessman, had the idea to build a Victorian greenhouse; however, he was unsuccessful in building the kit before he passed away. Eventually, the greenhouse was offered to the City of San Francisco and in 1879, it became the one of the first city-operated buildings of this type in the United States. The Conservatory of Flowers is the oldest existing greenhouse of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, attracting millions of visitors since it first opened in 1879. It was originally constructed with wood and glass; however, it was severely damaged by a windstorm in 1995. It was renovated and reopened in 2003.

The Conservatory has five different galleries: Lowland Tropics (steamy jungle plants from low-lying forests in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Madagascar, Senegal and more); Highland Tropics (plants from mountainous forest such as its collection of high-altitude orchids); Aquatic Plants comprising of lowland and highland species in two ponds (one with a higher temperature than the other); Potted Plants; and Special Exhibits (temporary gallery such as the current gallery on garden railways celebrating San Francisco's West End). In addition, the grounds surrounding the Victorian greenhouse is well-maintained and full of interest. Photo #1 shows flowers designed to look like a picture of a crocodile.

In order to control pests, the Conservatory released geckos to keep harmful pests in check. The San Francisco Park system leads the country in the reduction of the use of pesticides in parks.

Photographs #3 and #7 are pictures from the ponds in the Aquatic Plant gallery. The giant lily pads are amazing in Photograph #3. Photographs #8, 9, and 11 are beautiful orchids. The Conservatory is the home of more than 700 of the 1,000 known species of high-altitude orchids. Photograph #12 depicts beautiful colored glass design in the Victorian greenhouse.

Practical Tips When Visiting The Conservatory

The Golden Gate Park is a beautiful place to visit, but the rumors about difficulty in parking is truly not a joke. In the summer of 2011, on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, we spent over 45 minutes driving around the park to find parking. I think everybody else was doing the same as well. To make matters worse, the Park blocked some of its entrances, reducing even more parking. Even the parking lot underneath the De Young Museum was full. Thus, if you are planning to visit, avoid going to the park on Sundays. Plus, to visit this park, you must go early, look at the beautiful outdoor plants, plan the rest of the day, and wait for the Conservatory to open.

Hours of Operations

Tuesday - Sunday: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Last entry is at 4 p.m).


Photo #1
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Photo #12
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alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I've never been here, but the photos are so beautiful, I'll make time for the conservatory on my next trip to San Fran. Voting this Up and Beautiful.


formosangirl profile image

formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Thanks, Alocsin. Hope you will visit. Parking in San Francisco, even at the Golden Gate Park, is a headache.

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