From the outside, San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers is a fascinating building. Completed in 1878, it’s the oldest building in Golden Gate Park, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It was one of the first municipal conservatories in the USA, and has a central dome that’s almost 60 ft. (18m) high. However, I’m more interested in the inside, where details of history and architecture give way to tropical flowers. Of course, there are plenty of orchid blooms on display.
The Conservatory is an elegant Victorian glasshouse, but inside it feels like a huge terrarium. Incredible, exotic flowers fill the plant galleries. Colorful bromeliads, strange gingers, and bright anthuriums give the orchids plenty of competition.
For years, there have been myths and debates about the Conservatory’s origins. I’d often heard that its pieces were manufactured in England, and then it was imported and put together here. It turns out that there’s no proof of this. In fact, it was built from California’s Coast Redwoods, which suggests local construction. The Conservatory’s mysteries complement its great botanical collection. However it was built, it’s the perfect home for lots of fascinating tropical beauty.
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