December 3, 2020
The Luminous Garden
- as seen by -Julie Larsen Maher
A number of plants tower over me, so tall and verdant, as I walk through. The plants are real, part of this lush garden, in a variety of textures and sizes. Nestled among them are larger-than-life flowers, butterflies, and other insect shapes that light the way. They are in perfect harmony.
I know there was a careful and creative plan for this immersive experience, and plants were the first step. I asked our resident expert WCS Director of Maintenance and Horticulture, Todd Comstock, how he designed and cares for this beautiful space.
JLM: The idea of an indoor plant-and-light scene for Holiday Lights is unique this year. How did you come up with a plan to combine them?
TC: This idea was originated by WCS Director of Event Marketing Rachel Libretti and conceptualized by WCS Creative Director of Exhibits Shane LeClair. I took that concept and, utilizing plants that would be appropriate for an indoor space, created the Garden.
JLM: Are there any interesting plants that we should look for specifically when visiting the Garden?
TC: We have a wide range of plants in this Garden, over 40 species, ranging from ground covers to 12-foot-tall banana trees. A large collection of elephant ear plants can be seen ranging in size from very small (two feet) to very large (eight feet and taller) in various shades of green.
JLM: What care do the plants receive?
TC: The Garden is inspected every other day. We have assigned WCS Gardener Jeremy Smith to manage the watering, fertilization, and pruning of these plants.
JLM: Will the Luminous Garden plants be replanted around the zoo in other exhibits after Holiday Lights?
TC: These plants will all be used around the zoo once the event is over. We have both tropical and temperate plants in this Garden. The tropical plants will be going into some of Bronx Zoo’s interior exhibits, especially JungleWorld and World of Birds. The temperate plants will be planted throughout the grounds.
JLM: Do you have any tips for holiday plants at home?
TC: Yes, water, water, water! Dry warmth from heating systems will dry plants out very quickly. Make sure that any cut Christmas trees are also given plenty of water; they will uptake a lot more than you would think.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bronx Zoo’s Holiday Lights runs through January 10, 2021. For information and tickets, go to https://bronxzoo.com/holiday-lights.