Confused? Feel free to go back to the beginning.
Okay, let’s try a thought experiment. Your organization inherits a classic Art Deco historical building, with a huge adjoining conservatory. The conservatory both looks and shows its age, with leaks coming from the roof and lots of rust along the support pillars, but demolishing it isn’t an option, for a lot of reasons. For reasons of temperature and humidity stabilization, the original conservatory contained collections of various succulents, including aloes and cacti, but they don’t have quite the oomph of rainforest trees reaching for the ceiling. You want to put in plants that fill the enormous conservatory space, but you also have maybe one-quarter the space of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden conservatory. You also want a reason for attendees to visit the conservatory all year round, knowing they’re going to see something new every time they return. So what do you do with the conservatory space?
Well, if you’d answered “Renovate the space with state-of-the-art fixtures and irrigation systems, put in an airlock system to minimize escapes, replant the interior with friendly and impressive flowering and fruiting trees, and turn the whole thing into a gigantic butterfly garden,” congratulations. You did better than I would have. You also thought the same as the Texas Discovery Gardens crews, because they blew out the stops on the design and operation of the facility.
Having seen several butterfly gardens at big facilities as of late, particularly at Moody Gardens in Galveston, it’s surprising to see such a large space turned solely into butterfly garden. Here, though, it works. Entry is from the upper floor of the TDG building, with a long, slow ramp around the periphery of the interior toward ground level. In the process, you get a view of trees, vines, and shrubs from the top, giving a better impression of exactly what butterflies and other flying insects look for when it comes to food and egg-laying sites. As the ramp swings around, it passes through different layers of foliage, revealing unique bloom and leaf patterns. Finally, directly below the entrance is the exit, and if you’re already overloaded, the trip ends there. Or…or you can keep going around, looking for feeding stations, fountains, and the undersides of flowers and leaves usually too low to the ground to appreciate.
More to follow…