WHAT’S YOUR CONSERVATORY STORY?
For over 100-years,folks from all over the globe have delighted in visiting Volunteer Park Conservatory. Renowned for its beautiful and unique collection of tropical plants, orchids, and cacti, the Conservatory has something for everyone.
We invite you to share your experiences, memories and photos with us as part of our Conservatory Story project!
Was visiting Volunteer Park Conservatory part of your family’s tradition growing up? Perhaps you met a special someone beneath the glass canopy. We’d love to hear your tales, and see your memories.
We are especially interested in mid-20th century (1940-1970) tales and photography which are surprisingly rare.
To include your memories in our collection, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Kevin Dooms and Kristi Kiyonaga were married at the Conservatory in April 2016. Kristi is the grandniece of Toshio ‘Tosh’ Kiyonaga who worked as a gardener for parks from February 1950 to sometime in 1983.
He was senior gardener at the Conservatory when former senior gardener Stephanie Johnson-Toliver began her career and she always has spoken fondly of him. Apparently he was a knowledgeable orchid man!
Here’s a shot of my mother Mary Wiese and me in the Fern House, probably on Thanksgiving circa 199o. As the innkeepers of Salisbury House Bed & Breakfast, was always had busy holidays, feeding our guest breakfast and then preparing a meal for the family since we had the “big” house. We loved that the Conservatory was open for business too on the holidays. We made a quick walk up to the park and a stop in the greenhouse part of the day to get a break from the kitchen.
Al Smith (1911-2008) was the horticulturist for the Conservatory from 1941 until 1971. He was a renowned orchid show judge, and in 1957, Dos Pueblos Orchid Company of Goleta, California donated $10,000 worth of orchid plants to the Conservatory in recognition of Mr. Smith.
Over the years, due to careful selections by the Horticulture Staff, combined with generous donations from the public, the Conservatory has amassed a premier collection of tropical plants and houses one of the largest publicly held orchid collections on the West Coast
Starting coming to the park when 5 or 6 years old for Easter Sunrise Service and it became a tradition to come every Easter. Has hardly missed a year!
A trumpet would play at sunrise during the service
The tradition was to be outside for service, go to the top of the water tower, then come into the Conservatory to warm yo.
This tradition has continued after the service stopped. Joined on Easter 2015 by seven family members, plus kids!
Martin Slater worked (at the Conservatory) in the 1930s. He was a bartender until Prohibition in 1920, lost his job and went to work for the Water Department, eventually getting a gardening job at the Conservatory.
Al Davis worked (at the Conservatory) as a gardener in the 1950s. There used to be an agreement with Lakeview Cemetery next door to receive excess soil from them. While Potting with that cemetery soil one day, Al found a wedding ring!