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FOC Orchid Sale

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

OrchidAnnouncing…The Friends of the Conservatory Orchid Sale!!!!

We have too many divisions and not enough space. Buy a specimen and make room in our collection!

Classic varieties, mystery unknowns, and more! All orchids are priced to sell. Everything must go.

All proceeds directly support the Friends of the Conservatory.

Follow the signs leading west from the Volunteer Park Conservatory to the Production Greenhouse

October 18, 2014   11 am to 2 pm

October Plant of the Month: Chrysanthemum

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

By Lydia Lund, Conservatory Seasonal Gardener

Seasonal Gardener, Lydia Lund and a standard form of the Chinese cultivar Guang Hui “Glory, radiance”

Seasonal Gardener, Lydia Lund and a standard form of the Chinese cultivar Guang Hui “Glory, radiance”

The chrysanthemum was first cultivated in China as a flowering herb and is described in writings as early as the 15th Century B.C. Ancient Chinese pottery depicted the chrysanthemum much as we know it today. As an herb, it was believed to have the power of life. Around the 8th century A.D., chrysanthemums appeared in Japan. So taken were the Japanese with this flower that they adopted a single flowered chrysanthemum as the crest and official seal of the Emperor.

It wasn’t until the 17th century that the chrysanthemum was introduced into European culture. Now it is the largest commercially produced flower in the U.S. and Britain due to its ease of cultivation, capability to bloom on schedule, diversity of bloom forms and colors, and holding quality of the blooms. Some mum cultivars can be trained into different forms. Here at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, chrysanthemums are trained into cascade, gnome, and standard forms.

My specific task this summer was to train cultivars of Chinese mums given to The Conservatory in 2001 by the Shanghai Botanical Gardens. To create the standard display form, I started by planting three single cuttings (of the same variety) in one pot. Once the plants reached about eight inches tall, I cut them back and allowed three main side shoots to develop. I staked each of the nine stalks and as they grew, continuously pinched the side shoots and buds to create nine beautiful, full blooms. Seasonal Gardener, Sandra Hutchinson trained another batch of standard mums, including Korean and Japanese varieties, currently on display in the Seasonal House.

2009 Seasonal House display. Photo Credit: Dave Blythe

2009 Seasonal House display. Photo Credit: Dave Blythe

Training the cascade mums is an equally-involved but rather different process, taken on this year by Senior Gardener, Jeanne Schollmeyer. One cutting is trained to flow down a wire mesh lattice. In order to manipulate the growth of the mums in the downward direction the pots are placed on a stand that allows the gardeners to incrementally adjust the angle that the pots sit. The stand was specifically designed and built for growing mums here at the conservatory. The mums must be vigilantly pinched and tied down to create the cascade display form.

Another method of mum manipulation involves forcing different varieties to bloom at different times in order to keep the seasonal house with a steady flow of fresh and diverse mum varieties for visitors to enjoy. Because chrysanthemums naturally bloom in response to shortening days in the fall, the gardeners can control when each batch of mums will bloom by using shade cloth or lights to artificially alter the period of daylight mums are grown in.

We got a late start with the mums this year but they are already out for display, right on time. Visitors are welcome to stop by to enjoy them any time now up through the end of November.

September Members-Only Gift Shop Special

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013


Throughout September, Friends of the Conservatory Members will receive 20% off all books and reading materials in the Palm House Gift Shop. There’s a great selection, and something for all ages.

Sale will be open to all on 1st Saturday (September 7th) and current members only for the rest of the month.

Not a current member? Stop by the Palm House Gift Shop today to renew or start a new membership or if you’d rather, renew online!

Conservatory Winter Update!

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

It’s that time of year again when the trees in Volunteer Park are putting on one final display of beauty before winter’s dormancy. While we may have been short-changed on a long, hot summer this year, the magnificent colors of the foliage seem to be trying to compensate and will not certainly disappoint anyone making the trip.

Volunteer Park’s crown jewel, the Conservatory watches proudly from the north, no doubt contemplating the final few weeks of being in the double-digits. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Conservatory in Volunteer Park which will be commemorated throughout the entire year through events and programs open to the public.

The Friends of the Conservatory, now in its 31st year of service, has had one of its most active years in recent memory. Our two plant sales in May and September were extremely successful; the Spring Sale was the most successful sale on record! The Education Committee sponsored the Urban Safari Summer Camp program for grade-school students received glowing praise from participants and parents and will be expanded next year. The summer also bore a series of open houses to remind the Capitol Hill neighborhood of the perhaps-overlooked treasure right in their backyards. Visitors were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour, live music, and a book signing with Sara Chapman, author of an extensive and beautiful book chronicling the Conservatory collection throughout the year: “Flowers of Volunteer Park Conservatory: Blooming Month by Month” (available for purchase in the Conservatory Gift Shop.)

At the end of October, the Conservatory gardeners surprised us with the first-annual Haunted Conservatory After-Hour Open in which the tropical paradise was transformed with spooky decorations, chilling special effects, treats for visitors, and a screening of “Little Shop of Horrors” in the cactus house. December brings our annual Holiday Open House including a very special treat in just time for the centennial; the Conservatory will be outfitted with thousands of energy-efficient LED bulbs which will shine bright starting in December and remain installed for the duration of 2012 to commemorate the festive occasion. The FOC Gift Shop, located in the Conservatory has had a remarkably successful year with October sales up 68% over the previous October, and overall sales are up 19% from last year!

We are hoping you can join us for the festivities in the New Year! The Centennial Committee has some terrific events planned throughout the entire year, and we look forward to sharing them with you! For information about upcoming events or to learn how you can get involved, contact or call 206.322.4112.

Read more Conservatory updates in the FOC 2011 Fall/Winter Newsletter!