Hort Report - November 2017

Moods of the Conservatory

Written by Luci White, Horticulturist


Over 10,000 sq. ft. of lush tropical gardens are available to tens of thousands of eager visitors every year. The Conservatory can be an exciting place, and as the Horticulturist I have been fortunate enough to observe its various moods as it evolves throughout the day.


As I enter the Conservatory in the pre-dawn hours, contrary to the expected silence, I am heralded by a chorus of crickets celebrating their nocturnal activities. The glass roof allows me a secluded view of the moon and stars reflecting on the pond and lighting up the foliage and pathways like a secret garden.


I turn on the main lights and I spot our Green-cheeked Conure, Cheecho, snuggled in his furry bed, waking from his peaceful slumber and peeking up at me. As I prepare his meal, he climbs onto the perch and paces, anxiously waiting for breakfast to be served. The Owl butterflies wake and begin to flit about, engaging in synchronized aerial acrobatics. The pond inhabitants begin to circle excitedly anticipating their morning meal.


As dawn breaks, I make my rounds up and down the pathways to see which areas require attention, but I am never alone. The curious Chinese Painted Quails are perpetually investigating my work areas, always in pairs, pecking and rooting under foliage. The canary perches nearby and serenades me with her melodious morning song. The doves coo and land nearby to remind me that it’s their breakfast time as well.


It’s so rewarding to see the plants’ response to the warm and humid atmosphere. Happy vines opportunistically wind their way off the trellis into tree branches and up walls. Tree canopies reach for the sun, snuggled up to the glass roof; tropical shrub foliage spill over the pathways.


As the warming sun starts to peak over the roof, hundreds of butterflies take flight and soar through the foliage, taking advantage of the nectar flow in each bloom. A thunderous waterfall curtain signals the arrival of visitors, and the Conservatory is alive with squeals of gleeful children and happy families. Toddlers look up in amazement as they enter this dream-like wonderland. Little fingers point to the soaring butterflies and pudgy hands are held out palms up as they proceed slowly in a seemingly hypnotic trance in the hopes of one landing in that special place. Sunbathing turtles are the star of the pond in every child’s eyes.


During December and January, as snowflakes softly fall outdoors, the Flight of White event treats visitors to a warm, magical, fairy land with little white mini-lights adorning the tropical foliage, white Poinsettias accenting the landscape and soothing classical music permeating the air. This is a Conservatory mood that lifts spirits, sparks a smile and everyone can share! Hope to see you there!



Holiday Activities for Kids
Meet Cheecho the Conure!