The Conservatory of Flowers, which resembles a huge wood and glass bird cage, was modeled after the greenhouse Conservatory of Flowers Exterior (San Francisco) at London’s Key Gardens. Located in Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers Interior (San Francisco)and opened in 1879, it’s the oldest glass-and-wood Victorian greenhouse in the Western Hemisphere.

Dracula Plant Conservatory of Flowers (San Francisco)

Dracula plant

(Named for its “fangs.”)

The Conservatory is a living museum comprised of four galleries – Lowland Tropics, Highland Tropics, Aquatics, and Potted Plants – it houses carnivorous plants, rare orchids, prized century-old philodendron, and lily pads so sturdy they can hold the weight of a small child. The conservatory has been saved from rot and the wrecking ball several times most recently from 1995-2003 when its 16,800 lead paint-glazed window panes were replaced with safety glass.

Admission is free the first Tuesday of each month.

Special Exhibits
Routinely, often around Christmas, the Conservatory hosts special exhibits. Acquascaping at Conservatory of Flowers (San Francisco)Currently, until April 12, 2015, they’re offering Aquascapes: The Art of Underwater Gardening.

Aquascaping is defined as a craft or an art, depending on whom you talk to, and consists of artfully arranging plants, stones, caves, and driftwood in aquarium. Acquarium at Conservatory of Flowers (San Francisco)It’s under water gardening. An aquascape can be Zen and imitate ancient forests, abstract, or imitate any number of riparian or tropical habitats. Begun in the 1930s by the Dutch, aquascaping has spread to countless countries and is particularly popular in Japan. There are annual aquascaping competitions with hundreds of entries per contest.

Cleaning a plant in an aquarium  at the  Conservatory of Flowers (San Francisco)

Cleaning an African Crinum plant

with a toothbrush

The Conservatory exhibit consists of freshwater tropical fish and plants from Africa, Asia and South America that swish about in aquariums cut into Disneyesque hard plastic rock walls. The fish and plants will grow and change over the course of the exhibit so you may want to visit more than once to witness the transformations.

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