Don’t miss it! Friends of the Conservatory Fall Plant Sale is coming up on Saturday, September 14

The Friends of the Conservatory Fall Plant Sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 14.

The Fall Sale offers primarily tropical plants, succulents and cacti for sale, similar to the plants in the Conservatory. Frequently selected plants from the displays and collections are included in the sale.

The Palm House and Gift Shop are also having a sale on September 14, so stop by to find the perfect plant and pot!

A percentage of the proceeds from the sale provide direct support to the Gardeners’ displays and collections, and the remainder support Friends of the Conservatory and the programming it offers to the public.

New this year: Friends of the Conservatory members can start shopping at 9 a.m.!

The Friends of the Conservatory (FOC) is a nonprofit organization formed in 1980 to provide financial, educational and events support for the Conservatory. The FOC helps fund the Conservatory’s orchid collection, pays for descriptive tour materials and environmental education, and contributes to the Plant Acquisition Fund. Working with Conservatory staff, the FOC also organizes educational activities and hosts events, such as the popular annual holiday open house and the plant sale in May.

The Conservatory is located in the north end of Volunteer Park at 1400 E Galer St.

Volunteer Park Conservatory hosts “BOTANICAL EXOTICA – A Monumental Collection of the Rare and Beautiful” art glass display

Volunteer Park Conservatory is pleased to host the launch of an exclusive exhibition of fine-art glass works by Seattle native artist Jason Gamrath on Thursday, April 11 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Gamrath, a graduate of the Pilchuck Glass School, has designed a breathtaking series of titanic orchids, cacti and carnivorous specimens recreated faithfully in glass and inspired by the collection at Volunteer Park Conservatory. Visitors will marvel at the incredible detail of three-foot orchid blossoms and venus flytraps which could easily ensnare a small pet. Some pieces tower up to 12 feet on steel stems, providing an opportunity for visitors to experience flora from an insect’s perspective.

“Small plants, although miniscule in comparison to our human sized way of existing, are overwhelmingly perplexing when held inches away from one’s face. The vast majority of people will seldom grasp this seemingly secret perception of existence. When I increase the scale of these life forms to be larger than a person, they can be observed with this perspective from across a room due to the overwhelming physical presence they command. The purpose of creating this series on a macro scale is to bring to light the beauty that exists within the micro scale of nature.” – Statement of Artist Jason Gamrath

The three-part series, titled “BOTANICAL EXOTICA – A Monumental Collection of the Rare and Beautiful,” will span the course of six months. Admission for the opening event is $12 and includes refreshments provided by the Friends of the Conservatory.
The Volunteer Park Conservatory is located at 1402 E Galer St, on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
206-322-4112. To reach the Friends, please go to Foc@volunteerparkconservatory.org; for more information about them: www.volunteerparkconservatory.org\.

For more information about glass artist Jason Gamrath, please go to http://www.jasongamrathglass.com/.

Make a toast to your sweetie at the Valentine’s Day Wine and Chocolate Tasting at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Before you head out for that romantic dinner, bring your Valentine to the Volunteer Park Conservatory, 1400 E Galer St., on Thursday, February 14 for a wine and chocolate tasting!

The Friends of the Conservatory and Seattle Parks and Recreation are sponsoring the event, which will feature four varieties of Wilridge Wines matched with Theo Chocolates and Divine Chocolates at tasting stations throughout the Conservatory. Non-alcoholic beverages are available too. This event is for people 21 and older.

Entry times are at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. and tickets are $25 per person or $20 per member of the Friends of the Conservatory. Tickets are available at the Conservatory Gift Shop (http://www.volunteerparkconservatory.org/gift-shop/), which is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; at Brown Paper Tickets (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/324012); or at the door.

For more information about Theo Chocolate, please visit www.theochocalate.com; about Divine
Chocolate, visit www.divinechocolateusa.com; and for Wilridge Wine, visit http://www.wilridgewinery.com/.

Proceeds of the event support the Friends of the Conservatory, formed in 1980 to help sustain the Conservatory’s legacy through financial, educational, and events support. The FOC is currently mounting a capital campaign for renovation of the east wing and the east production house, which are also supported by City funding.

The Conservatory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it is also a City landmark and one of the few remaining original Victorian public glass houses in the country. It houses an outstanding tropical plant collection that is 100 years in the making, it hosts classes and day camps for school-age children, and it provides space for art classes, events and public gatherings. There is possibly no more beautiful place to visit on a rainy afternoon than the warm, quiet Conservatory.

$4 Volunteer Park Conservatory entry fee begins February 1; revenues will help keep historic building open and operating

Beginning February 1, 2013, a $4 fee for adults to enter the Volunteer Park Conservatory will help preserve this 100 year old jewel of Seattle’s Olmsted park system.

Following the results of a 2012 study Seattle Parks and Recreation conducted to identify a more financially stable model for operating the Conservatory, the City adopted the $4 adult entry fee.

Other fees are:
• $2 for youth ages 13-17
• No fee for children 12 and younger
• $25 for K-12 school groups (with advance reservations)

There is a pay machine at the Conservatory’s entry that accepts Visa, MasterCard, $1 bills and change. The machine does not provide change.

Revenues from the entry fee, estimated to be $104,000, will help keep the facility open and operating, preserve the Conservatory’s heritage and maintain the horticultural collection.

Friends of the Conservatory
The Friends of the Conservatory (FOC), a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for the Conservatory, sells memberships starting at $20. The FOC offers docent-led tours ($25 for a group of up to 25 with advance reservations) that inform the participants about the Conservatory’s plant collections, architectural history, plant acquisition and production, facility operations, and behind-the-scenes news.

Membership in the Friends of Conservatory makes possible the organization’s outreach and education programs, funds the docent program and promotes special events. For more information on the FOC, events, education, membership and volunteer opportunities please visit http://www.volunteerparkconservatory.org.

The Conservatory, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is also a City landmark and one of the few remaining original Victorian public glass houses in the country. It houses an outstanding tropical plant collection, hosts classes and day camps for school-age children, and provides space for art classes, events and public gatherings. The Conservatory shelters a tropical plant collection and provides a warm, quiet, beautiful refuge.

City budget keeps Volunteer Park Conservatory open; Friends of the Conservatory, generous donors, modest entrance fee all help

Despite fears reported this past March, the City is committed to keeping the 100-year old Volunteer Park Conservatory, the crown jewel of Seattle’s Olmsted park system, open.

The operating budget Mayor Mike McGinn and Parks and Recreation proposed, and the City Council recently approved, includes a $4 per person entrance fee to support maintenance and education programs, and the capital budget includes $2.3 million of the $3.1 million needed for critical structural repairs. To ensure the Conservatory’s success into the future, both the restoration project and day-to-day operations need help from community members.

To date, individual donors have contributed just over half of the $750,000 still needed for the restoration fund. Generous donations to the Friends of the Conservatory and ongoing volunteer labor will help keep the entry fee affordable for all visitors. As of early November, more than 100,000 people had visited the Conservatory this year, about two-thirds of them from outside Seattle.

The Conservatory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it is also a City landmark and one of the few remaining original Victorian public glass houses in the country. It houses an outstanding tropical plant collection that is 100 years in the making, it hosts classes and day camps for school-age children, and it provides space for art classes, events and public gatherings. The Conservatory shelters more than a tropical plant collection. As a warm, quiet, beautiful refuge, it shelters our souls.

To learn about upcoming holiday events and to make a tax-deductible donation, please go to www.VolunteerParkConservatory.org . Members of the public can make contributions to the restoration fund by contacting the Seattle Parks Foundation: http://seattleparksfoundation.org.

Consultant’s Report contains recommendations for Volunteer Park Conservatory

Seattle Parks and Recreation has received the report from EMD Consulting Group, LLC that contains recommendations on the future operation of the Volunteer Park Conservatory (VPC).

Following analysis of eight options, the consultant focused on the two that build both earned and contributed income: One includes a $3 admission fee and no new structure for rental events; the other includes a $4 admission fee and a tent structure for rentals.

“We appreciate the consultant’s solid work on alternatives for moving the Conservatory into the future,” said Parks and Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams. “Parks will consider them and will include some of his recommendations in our 2013 budget proposal.”

Early this year Parks issued a Request for Qualifications for consultants to help develop a financially sustainable business plan for the Conservatory. After screening and review, Parks selected from the three proposers EMD Consulting Group, LLC, an expert in conservatory operations. The report is available online at http://www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/volunteerpark/conservatory.htm.

The consultant, Richard Daley, began his study with a review of conservatories from more than 30 cities and focused on the 15 that are similar in size to VPC. He found that:

• No other conservatory had closed for financial reasons
• Three have come close to closing because of financial difficulties but stayed open;
• Most conservatories similar in size to VPC are supported by city revenues;
• Many are trying to increase earned revenues;
• The staffing at VPC is reasonable by national standards; and
• The VPC’s capacity to become completely self-sustaining financially is limited by its size and the lack of rental space.

From the well-attended public meeting on the VPC on March 7, the consultant found consensus that people value both the Conservatory building and it plant collections, and its historic value to the city. He also found that the majority of attendees support a modest admission fee and rentals for weddings and other private events as long as they do not interfere with the public’s enjoyment of the facility.

The consultant identified eight options and used these criteria to analyze each for whether it: reduced operating costs, kept the building available for public use, preserved the existing structure, saved the plant collections, and kept the building as an educational/recreation facility.

The consultant also considered changes in the management of the VPC. He found that because Parks has had great success with other nonprofit partnerships, notably the Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium, it is desirable for Parks to develop a strong partner who could take on VPC operations in the future. He also recommended that Parks proceed with developing the concept of a conservancy for Volunteer Park to advocate for and support the park and its amenities, especially the VPC.

Since 2010, Parks has made major reductions in parks and facilities maintenance and has created a new cost-saving model for community center operations. Parks continues to sustain major budget reductions, and staff continue to examine lines of business to identify potential reductions for 2013. The look at VPC operations is one element of this effort.

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Celebrate the Holidays at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Come and see the Volunteer Park Conservatory at its magical holiday best at several events where visitors can catch the spirit of the holidays surrounded by some of the best in Northwest horticulture. 

Volunteer Park Conservatory “After Hours”

Friday December 3, 2010, 5 to 8 p.m.

Join us for Live music, holiday lights, and shopping. Friends of the Conservatory (FOC) members will enjoy a 25% discount on purchases from the Gift Shop.

The event is free and open to the public.

Volunteer Park Conservatory

Live Harp Music by Bill McJohn

Sundays December 5, 12, and 19 from 1 to 2 p.m.

Free and open to the public!

The Volunteer Park Conservatory is located at 1400 E Galer St. FOC phone is 206-322-4112, and email is foc@volunteerparkconservatory.org.

The Conservatory was built in 1912 to propagate and grow flowers and other plants for public display. Since then it has evolved to include five “houses,” each with a specialty collection: The Bromeliad House, the Palm House, the Fern House, the Cactus House, and the Seasonal Display House, which changes seasonally to provide year-round horticultural presentations. 

The Friends of the Conservatory, a nonprofit organization, was established in 1980 to advocate for the Volunteer Park Conservatory and its collections, and to encourage public participation and education. For more information on the Friends of the Conservatory, please see http://www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/volunteerpark/conservatory.htm.

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