Peaceful Bliss in Pacifica at Shelldance Orchid Garden

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica Profile

Have you ever been to a place, from the moment you step in, you feel a wave of peaceful, happy, positive energy? Very often, this kind of places makes for memorable encounters on trips, and recently we found just the place in Pacifica: Shelldance Orchid Gardens. 

Perched on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Shelldance Nursery (as it's otherwise called) is a tiny detour away from Pacific Coastal Highway 1. Once you drive up the inconspicuous winding road, the reward of a breathtaking view awaits you.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Hilltop Garden

Something is special about this place. The lively colors of the buildings announce that you're now in the land of the exuberant and unyieldingly positive atmosphere of Northern California. This exact location has been the house of dreams since the 1950s, when horticulturist Herb Hager first set up camp here to grow orchids. Since the 1970s, the place has been in the caring hands of Nancy Davis and Michael Rothenberg. They continue the legacy of cultivating tropical plants in the green houses on a hill in Pacifica.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Entrance

Shelldance Orchid Garden is open to public on weekends free of charge. Everyone is welcome to visit, to admire the flamboyant tropical plants, or just to hang out and soak up the peaceful good vibes among other gentle souls.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Main Entrance
Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Happy Folks

The subdued patina of the natural building materials and the layers of Spanish moss walls provide the perfect canvas for the vibrant plants and accent furnitures in the garden rooms. As you walk through the interconnecting green houses, you encounter some exotic creatures... moth orchids, bromeliads, carnivorous plants, and a handsome staghorn fern that is the peaceful, "vegan" version of a mounted deer head.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - The Gardens
Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Garden Room
Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Exotic Plants

At every turn, you'll find an inviting chair asking you to stay awhile. Sit down, they say, time is the luxury we'd love to offer you.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - The Green Chair

There is a back-door entrance through the gilded looking-glass that transports you to this enchanting indoor forest.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Through the Looking Glass

Under the veils of Spanish moss, we find some tropical beauties proudly sticking out from the lush foliage beneath.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Orchid Isles
Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Exotic Orchids

If you fall in love with a plant, you'd ask about the price, but many are not for sale. Depending on the quality and age of each plant, the value is different. For some rarer specimens, there are even waiting lists.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Orchids

Orchids remind me of my childhood. My grandmother used to keep a small green house of orchids, not only for the pleasures of gardening, but also as her subjects of Chinese brush painting. She showed me how to grind down the ink sticks with water on stone slabs, how to hold the brushes vertically, and how in one breath materialize a stroke of a single leaf, an overarching stem, or a single petal on the absorbent paper.

I didn't have the patience to practice this art, but her love for orchids was passed down to me. A few years before she passed away, she attended my wedding where we had white moth orchids for floral arrangement in her honor. Grandma passed away a few months ago this year, but memories of her always come alive whenever I see orchids.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Orchid Trio

After walking among these untamed beauties, you may be tempted to take a few of them home. Nancy is known to coach guests to pick just the right flowers for their living spaces.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Store
Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Carnivorous Plants

Some carnivorous plants for those with larger-than-life personalities, perhaps?

And maybe some succulents for people with tender hearts?

Remember, "You are succulent too".

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - You Are Succulent Too

There are handmade pots, vases, and wind chimes of lovely colors for sale in the store, they'd complement the flowers quite well I suppose.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - The Store

Just when you think you've experienced everything Shelldance Orchid Garden has to offer, you'll find hidden in a back corner, the Art Gallery.

A room with suspended paper lanterns, chairs and cushions, strings of origami birds descending from the ceiling, art works from local artists... a tranquil, meditative space.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Origami Bird

And the woman behind this peaceful, dreamy garden?

As you can probably imagine, Ms. Nancy Victoria Davis is serene and vibrant, very much like the place that grew out of her imagination.

Ms. Nancy Victoria Davis, owner of Shelldance Orchid Garden

Ms. Nancy Victoria Davis, owner of Shelldance Orchid Garden

We left Shelldance with eyes brightened and senses soothed. It was quite a moment of peaceful bliss on the mountain.

The orchids? Not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica - Orchid and Bud

Shelldance Orchid Garden

2000 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacifica, California

Looking for more Pacifica travel inspirations? Make sure you check out my Pacifica Pinterest board:

Shelldance Orchid Garden Pacifica Poster

Have Peace and Travel On,

Melody xx