The AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park is simply breathtaking. I have tried to locate the memorial for some time but have gotten lost in between the Conservatory of Flowers and Hippie Hill, which is exactly where it lies. I visited the Memorial once before so I had a good idea of what it was like and what I was in for, but this time around was completely different than the first. It was so much more amazing than I remember. I went around 4:30 PM when the sun was just about to set and the lighting was just perfect. The last sunshine of the day peaked through the trees and highlighted each flowers unique form and color. The path lead you down to a circle of names of people who had been taken by their loved ones, and as you went further it brought you into a calm darkness under tall trees.
The AIDS Memorial Grove “is a dedicated space in the national landscape where millions of Americans touched directly or indirectly by AIDS can gather to heal, hope, and remember. For all the promising prospects on the horizon, AIDS continues to invade our lives, violate our past, and rob us of our comfortable assumptions about the future”.
In late 1988, a small group of San Francisco residents representing a devastated community were looking for a positive way to express their collective grief. They envisioned a serene, natural setting suitable for memorial services or individual mourning and remembrance. From this initial concept, a team of architects, landscapers, designers, and lay people volunteered countless hours to create a living tribute to those lost to the disease.
Check out my Flickr set for more pictures!
The Conservatory of Flowers was erected in 1879 by a man named James Lick. It was opened to the public that year and was shut down and re-opened two times after due to fires and windstorms. But many people such as Charles Croker who donated the funds to restore the conservatory in 1883, and Hillary Clinton who helped start a $25 million restoration campaign in 1999, helped keep the treasure known as the Conservatory of Flowers up and running.
The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is a wonderful place not only to relax with family and friends but also to become educated about the various plants within the conservatory. In the Conservatory there are aquatic, lowland, potted, highland plants. People are readily available to answer every question and help further explore curiosity.
There are also special exhibits that make the Conservatory a particularly unique place. In May of 2005, Ted the Titan, a corpse flower, attracted more than 16,000 visitors while it was in bloom. This year there is a exhibit called the Butterfly Zone. The exhibit features 25 different species of butterflies that are free-flying. This allows you to see them drinking nectar and getting covered in pollen. As you enter into the world of the butterfly you get a first hand account of plant pollination. These creatures play a critical role in plant pollination and the general life cycle of plants. As you walk through the exhibit, you can actually see the butterflies taste the nectar with their feet. Being so close to the butterflies allows you to truly appreciate their delicate wings and exotic colors.
(these pictures were taken from the Conservatory of Flowers website, they are amazing so check them out.)
My experience in the Conservatory of Flowers was probably like many others experience. Peaceful, educational, gorgeous, entertaining and just plain amazing. I wanted to talk to the director of the Butterfly Exhibit to ask him/her questions about it. I wanted to know about how the butterflies are transported, who funds the exhibit, how it is maintained, who is responsible, what goes into a project as big as the exhibit and much more. Unfortunately I was unable to talk to the director because the exhibit was extremely packed seeing as it opened just 2 weeks ago. I was able to speak to a worker that was gardening at the time instead but there was a a definite language barrier. Next time I explore the conservatory I would like a personal experience so I was thinking that I would talk to a volunteer who simply enjoys the conservatory and wants to be apart of it just like I do.
To see historical and current photos of the Conservatory of Flower check out my Flickr sets!
The flower conservatory is such a beautiful place in Golden Gate Park. It is filled with wonder. I feel every time I go flowers are constantly in bloom and people are happy to be out exploring the beauty of the place. People come to play football, have a picnic, take their dog or kid for an adventure or just to relax outside. But I’m sure everyone knows how glorious the flower conservatory is and have experienced it many times, so I thought it would be an interesting idea to take photos of the park at night. We only go to the park during the day, maybe because the homeless people come out to play at night, so I thought I would try to capture it.
Check out my flickr set to see how I did.