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Dickinson Family Education Conservatory Project Takes a Huge Step Forward at San Diego Botanic Garden

Encinitas CA— The Dickinson Family Education Conservatory project at San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas took a huge step forward this week.

Final permitting was obtained by the Garden from the City of Encinitas for the 8,232 sq. ft. facility set in the nationally acclaimed Hamilton Children’s Garden.

Now that permitting has been granted, it paves the way for the greenhouse-like structure designed by Deforche/Green House Works to be erected. This unique building, that is being created and shipped overseas from Belgium, is scheduled to be delivered to the Garden this September.

Among the unique plants being acquired for the Conservatory are two species of Anthuriums considered to be royalty of the plant kingdom and often referred to as the King and Queen of this family of plants that are emblematic of the tropical forest canopy. The Garden expects to receive several specimens of both the King and Queen Anthuriums along with 8 other species of rare plants cultivated and shipped from Ecuador later this month.

These rare plants from Ecuador, and literally hundreds of other species, are being acquired from botanic gardens across the United States to adorn the Conservatory’s 14 foot diameter ‘plant chandeliers’ creating suspended islands of exotic plants that will be reminiscent of the of the floating islands in the movie “Avatar.”

“These lovely hanging gardens will be suspended from the ceiling of this new event/visitor space,” said Julian Duval, SDBG President & CEO. “The structures for the plant chandeliers were created out of natural trunks and branches of drought-stricken catalpa trees harvested from Dehesa road in Campo – just ½ mile east of Sycuan Casino. These catalpa tree limbs and trunks were supplied by the Garden to Weldon Exhibits, the company that engineered these one-of-a-kind structures from the Bay Area. Two weeks ago, the completed plant chandeliers were delivered to the Garden, where they were placed in Greenhouse 8 at Leichtag Commons. Greenhouse 8 provides us with an environment conducive to begin growing tropical plants on them.

“The Dickinson Family Education Conservatory will serve as a community meeting space where people of all ages can connect with plants and nature, fulfilling the mission of the Garden,” added Duval. “At the same time it will provide a truly magical space, an awesome visitor experience certain to inspire the care needed to preserve these unique plants and their environment.”

When completed, the Conservatory will consist of:

  • A multi-purpose Main Hall:
    • Featuring tropical “plant chandeliers” that span 14 feet that can be raised to form a canopy or lowered for eye-level viewing.
    • Six large fixed hanging islands of unique plants.
    • A 37 ft by 14.5 ft planted green wall and 3 planted movable walls by Sage Vertical Gardens out of Chicago
    • Elegant glass and metal design by Deforce/Green House Works out of Belgium
    • Open floor space to accommodate auditorium seating for up to 350 Complete with state-of-the-art audio/video equipment
  • A demonstration and catering Kitchen:
    • Hosting cooking and educational classes, many  geared toward children to encourage healthy eating habits and educate them on where their food comes from
    • For farm-to-table, weddings, and other special events
  • An outdoor Amphitheater:
    • With seating for 265 guests
    • Complete with a 2,000 sq ft patio area and outdoor lighting

The Conservatory was designed with three distinct purposes in mind to:

  • Grow Education – Sharing knowledge and experiences of the natural world
  • Grow Engagement – Connecting our community members with nature
  • Grow Conservation – Building stewardship and respect for the environment