WELCOME TO THE TERRA DOME
Sometimes you have to be a tourist in your own city. My first place in Vancouver was across the street from Queen Elizabeth Park and I never once walked through the labyrinth of plants and animals that make up The Bloedel Conservatory. Not long ago, I had a photo shoot and ended up being two hours early. Since the studio was in the area I decided to spend some of my extra time taking in the horticulture at one of Vancouver's hidden gems. As soon as I walked in, the humidity hit me. I should have expected it; the varietals of plants and birds need the temperatures to hover in a particular range in order to thrive.
My walking map helped me to break down the mix of plant life that was sprouting and reaching everywhere. A keen eye is needed to spot some of the birds, as they don't exactly just sit there waiting for you to check off your list of species one by one. The exception: a crew of different parrots and macaws dotted in different areas of the conservatory. From the pale green feathers of Nelson, a Hahn's Dwarf Macaw, to the bright reds and turquoise blues of Carmen and Maria, the whole cast was visually apparent. Rosie, an African Grey Parrot, was looming in size against the others and her breed is ," …considered among the most intelligent of animals, ranking alongside dolphins and chimpanzees…". Then there was Ruby and Kiwi, a pair of Eclectus or King Parrots, who were perched up on a branch as I turned the corner for the exit, there loud caw thanking me for my patronage. A mix of purples and reds decorated one of the birds and it seemed an homage to the intricate patterns of nature.
It was great to see young families there and I saw excitement on the faces of some of the youngsters, particularly when they spotted a new bird fly by or spied one of the Koi fish swim by under foot, all the while the swaying of the small footbridge adding to the moment. It didn't take a long time for me to roll around the space, but I left with a greater appreciation of horticulture and ornithology. From outside, The Bloedel Conservatory appears to be from the future, a domed silo that holds a vast selection of our plant life for further study. On the inside, it is a world unto itself and its educational potential still has something to offer for everyone. With hundreds of plant varietals and an atmosphere that harbours three different climates including; tropical,sub-tropical and desert, it really makes one respect the workers there. As I walked back towards my photo session, I realized, that sometimes, exploring in your own backyard can give you a new outlook on where you live and how you interact with your surroundings. So, no matter where you live, get out there and see what else your city has to offer; you may find it grounding. I know I did.