Color: A Winter Carnivale at the Conservatory of Flowers

January 22, 2008 5:38:25 PM PST
For these cold and gray winter days, dive into a summary splash of color. Visit the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

Are the gray days of winter giving you the blues? Well, Nick Smith has the cure.

Conservatory of Flowers
JFK Drive, Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
Phone: (415) 666-7001

Web site:

$5.00 for Adults
$3.00 for Youth 12-17, Seniors 65 & over, and Students with ID
$1.50 for Children 5 -11
FREE for Children 4 and under
The Conservatory is free to all visitors on the first Tuesday of every month.

Color: A Winter Carnivale
Now through March 3
A dazzling display of floral color:
If the gray days of winter give you the blues, make your way over to the Conservatory of Flowers for a breathtaking blast of vibrant color and beauty in "Color: A Winter Carnivale," a new exhibition on view November 20 through March 3.

It's a spectacular spectacular with more color than most gardens display in mid-summer. Hundreds of plants are arranged in color clusters of red, blue, purple, orange, yellow, green and silver/white, creating a living rainbow of bright blooms and luminous leaves. Whimsical design elements such as jeweled pendants, lanterns and mobiles lend the display a dazzling turn-of-the-century world's fair atmosphere, transporting visitors back in time to the Edwardian era when the wonders of the natural world and science had captivated the public.

Children will love the Wheel of Flora-tune, a casino-quality big spin that sends them on a hunt for color clues. Fun facts appear throughout the exhibition to help visitors understand the role that colors play in botanical strategies of survival.

"This is going to be a visual feast," says Brent Dennis, the Conservatory's new director. "We want people to walk in and be completely awestruck by the brilliant diversity of the plants on display, but we also want them to leave knowing something about the role color plays in nature."

One of the things that the Conservatory is hoping people will come to understand is the relationship between color and pollination. Different colors are meant to attract different kinds of pollinators. Moth and bat pollinated flowers tend to be white making it easier for these nocturnal critters to see the flower. Bees see ultra violet colors so their flowers of choice are usually blue or purple. Red and bright orange are the preferred colors of bird pollinators like hummingbirds.

Color also helps a plant regulate its exposure to light. It can deflect light in sunny climes such as the silvery colored leaves of chaparral and desert plants or it can provide extra help in collecting light for photosynthesis. The leaves of many tropical plants that grow in the dark understory of the rain forest are red underneath so as to absorb any spare sunlight that might pass through the leaf.

So, don't miss "Color: A Winter Carnivale" -- it's a color-phyll extravaganza that is sure to brighten the holidays.