Conservatory of Flowers

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.

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate ParkMiltonia flowerPhalaenopsis growing in silvery-green palm tree

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.

Bromeliad flowersSpiral Ginger flowerAnthurium in the Conservatory of Flowers

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.

Inside the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate ParkMormodes speciesElleanthus flowers hanging in the Conservatory of Flowers

Vanda speciesCarnivorous pitcher plantCoelogyne flowers

Explore posts in the same categories: Botanical Gardens, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

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7 Comments on “Conservatory of Flowers”

  1. Marc Says:

    I think that purple and blue bromeliad flower is the same Aechmea hybrid shown in the the great slideshow on the Conservatory’s homepage.

  2. nancy Says:

    I’m so jealous you can go there anytime! Thanks for the great shots. Love ‘em all, but especieally the phal in the tree and the marmodes. Is the ellenanthus an orchid?!

  3. Marc Says:

    To nancy: yes, the Elleanthus (last picture in the 3rd row) is an orchid! It’s a very strange one, too. That flower head was hanging upside down, and the plant was really large. It may be Elleanthus capitatus. It was growing in the Conservatory’s Highland Tropics Gallery with the other cool growers.

  4. Max Says:

    What beautiful flowers and photograhy. Thanks,

  5. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » Conservatory of Flowers redux Says:

    [...] You didn’t think I could fit all our great photos from the Conservatory of Flowers into one post, did you? [...]

  6. PN3 Says:

    Hi, your www is incredible, can’t wait for more updates

  7. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » Stanhopea Says:

    [...] I haven’t been able to grow them myself (the first 6 photos are from the Conservatory of Flowers, 2 are from local orchid shows, and the last one is from Phipps Conservatory.)  [...]