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Bouquets for the Conservatory on the Anniversary of its Reopening

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A Year of Prestigious Awards and Successes for San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers

SAN FRANCISCO - On September 20, 2003, the Conservatory of Flowers opened its doors to the public for the first time since devastating storms in 1995 severely damaged the Victorian landmark. And in just one year, the Conservatory has become one of San Francisco's must-see tourist destinations and a favorite with local lovers of flora as well. It has also been the recipient of a number of important awards for both the historic rehabilitation of the building and for the exceptional horticultural displays inside.

Since spring, the Conservatory has received seven awards for excellence. Most recently, the Conservatory was selected to receive a Governor's Historic Preservation Award for 2004 from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This prestigious award is the only official preservation award presented by the State of California in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of historic preservation.

The Conservatory's recent $25 million rehabilitation campaign also garnered awards from the Victorian Society in America, a national organization that presents awards to meritorious preservation and restoration projects of significant buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places and constructed between 1837 and 1917, from the California Heritage Council and from the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California. The Conservatory was also recently notified that it will be honored with a rare Friedel Klussman Award from San Francisco Beautiful. Says SF Beautiful Director Dede Workman, "The Friedel Klussman Award is for special projects - the ones that move people and deserve special recognition." The last such award was presented in 2001 to the Crissy Field Restoration Project.

Additionally, the Conservatory was honored by the California Horticultural Society here in San Francisco for its exceptional horticultural displays and Scot Medbury, the Conservatory's Director, was honored in Dallas, Texas on June 11 at the national meeting of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arborera (AABGA). He was the unanimous choice of the AABGA Awards Committee and Board of Directors to receive the Professional Citation Award for his important contributions to the field of public horticulture throughout his career, his outstanding work as director of Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and his inspired leadership of the rehabilitation of the Conservatory of Flowers. Medbury's nomination was supported by Mayor Gavin Newsom, who wrote in his letter to the Committee, "Scot has shown uncommon dedication to public service and to public horticulture. We are extremely proud to have him in charge of our city's botanical gardens and feel that his passion and commitment merit the recognition embodied by the AABGA professional citation."

The Conservatory has already welcomed more than 300,000 visitors since reopening in September 2003 and projects a total of 350,000 by the one-year anniversary date, exceeding all projections. In order to ensure a comfortable visit for all, the Conservatory limits the number of people inside the building at any given time to 220. And visitors are raving. "It is extraordinary to have such a personal experience of the tropics right here in the city," said San Francisco resident Katia Sazevich recently. "It really feels as if you are walking through the jungle in a far away country."

The future looks bright for the landmark institution. Plans are underway right now for a sumptuous holiday display of unusual winter blooms in regal shades of red, blue, purple and mauve that will be on view from December 1, 2004 to January 2, 2005. 2005 will kick off with the February opening of an exciting, new special exhibition entitled "Nature's Drugstore". This exhibition will feature live plants that are used medicinally by doctors and healers in a wide variety of countries and several immersive displays where plant lovers will visit a Chinese herbalist, a South American shaman, a African sungoma, and a Haight-Ashbury Health Food Store.

Starting in fall 2004, the Conservatory is launching the Jungle Guides program. Jungle Guides are docents who lead tours for fourth grade classes and the Conservatory is currently recruiting volunteers for the 04-05 school year. This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who loves children, is interested in learning more about plants and wants to be involved in the ongoing life of this landmark institution. Interested volunteers should visit the website at www.conservatoryofflowers.org.

Background
Opened in 1879, The Conservatory of Flowers is a spectacular living museum of rare and beautiful tropical plants housed in the oldest existing wood and glass greenhouse in the Western Hemisphere. The recently rehabilitated Conservatory is designated as a city, state and national historic landmark and was one of the 100 most endangered sites of the World Monuments Fund. From Borneo to Bolivia, the 1500 species of plants at the Conservatory represent unusual flora from more than 50 countries around the world. Immersive displays in five galleries include the lowland tropics, highland tropics, aquatic plants, potted plants and special exhibits.

For more information, call (415) 666-7001 or visit www.conservatoryofflowers.org.

Note: images and interviews available upon request.