Hello Friends and Family,

Golden Gate Park, Part 5

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

After leaving the Japanese Tea Garden, I wanted to head for the Conservatory of Flowers. I had to make a choice between walking or driving. Driving is faster but finding a parking place is problematic. Undeterred, I chose driving and accepted the challenge. It took a while but I found one. As I walked toward the entrance to the Conservatory, I encountered some lovely patches of flowers — here Nasturtiums. The flower bed could use a little weeding but ignore the weeds and enjoy the flowers. Nasturtiums always make me think to the Smothers Brothers and their take on "Tiptoe through the Tulips" which Tommy eventually changed to "Stomping through the Tulips".

These are unusual — beautiful flowers with stems that have fibers sticking out (not quite as thick as thorns). Let me know if you know what these are called.

Ah, finally the Conservatory of Flowers. Once inside, I encountered a docent who gave us the history. Here is Wikipedia's version (since I could not possibly have remembered all the docent told us). "The conservatory kit was bought by James Lick, an eccentric businessman, piano maker, and successful real estate investor who was a patron of the sciences. It was intended for the City of San Jose, where Lick had built a mansion surrounded by exotic plants imported from South America and around the world. Lick died in 1876 before constructing the conservatory on his estate, and it was put up for sale by his trustees. The kit was then purchased by a group of prominent San Franciscans, including Leland Stanford and Charles Crocker, who offered it as a gift to the City of San Francisco for use in Golden Gate Park. The Parks Commission accepted the gift and hired Lord & Burnham, a greenhouse manufacturing company from New York, to supervise the erection of the structure. Once open, it contained a large variety of rare and tropical plants, including a giant water lily, Victoria regia, which at the time was the only known specimen in the United States."

The central atrium is the starting point of your self-guided tour and is a space which makes you feel like you are in a rain forest — not just the presence of tropical plants but also the heat and humidity are quite noticeable. There are also the sounds of birds coming from various directions. Since I did not see any, I assume the calls were from strategically placed and well-hidden speakers.

Passing into the right arm of the Conservatory, I spotted a beautiful Bromeliad. There around 3475 known species most native to the tropical areas of the Americas. My favorite variety is, of course, the pineapple.

Next I encountered a planting of these beautiful orchids. For some reason they made me think of soaring long-necked birds. Curious.

Here a similar variety with the color of ripe Georgia peaches.

Next up is another variety of Bromeliad. Beautiful.

In keeping with the theme of tropical foliage, here we see a nice specimen of ferns.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com