1949, renowned orchid grower, Herb Hager started building greenhouses on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hager’s budding orchid business was named "Valley Mar Gardens". He stated "the chilly ocean air delivered by the coastal breezes will suit my orchids, as these are from the high, cool cloud forest- not the steamy, hot jungle!"

1976, Nancy Davis and Michael Rothenberg moved into the vacant greenhouses and Shelldance Gardens was established. Specializing in the same cool growing cloud forest plants yet the couple's broader vision was to promote the diversity of plant life offered by Mother Nature and present a botanical environment that would be enjoyed by all visitors.

The official opening celebration of ‘Valley Mar Gardens”, circa 1949.
(Herb Hager is 4th from left.)
“Shelldance Gardens” Michael & Nancy, circa, 1976.

1987, the greenhouses were included within the National Parks Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Shelldance Gardens is proud to be a Park Partner and Park Steward and will continue to promote and share green ideas and practices for the benefit of all.

Fast forward to the present year 2022, these same greenhouses are now Historic Landmark qualified, have stood the test of time and continue to provide ideal growing traditions for orchids, bromeliads and many other unique neotropical plants. The greenhouses are still the original redwood construction, classically solid Lord and Burnham designed. (The gold standard for floriculture of the 1940's era.) Although the greenhouses are old fashion by modern standards, a world-class botanical garden thrives inside, proving that good design does not go out of function or fashion.