Friday, December 30, 2011

Inside the New Exhibits | part 1 — plants

The original Frogs of Panama exhibit
One of the first assignments in my new role was to design and coordinate the opening of three new frog exhibits for the Fuqua Conservatory lobby. The stand and the 3 aquaria were already being built to replace the current Frogs of the Panama Cloud Forest exhibit. This enormous terrarium (pictured with me, above) was one of the original orchid exhibits, and was showing signs it could not contain a miniature cloud forest much longer.

I was delighted to hear that Robert Hill (my predecessor) and Mike Wenzel (plant records guru) had already made some headway into finding plants that would not only be accurate to the regions of which they were depicting, but might also feature plants of focus in our conservatory and conservation collections. We decided the regions we would focus on for the new exhibits would be Costa Rica, the Amazon basin, and of course a downscaled version of our previous Panama exhibit.

To be honest, in previous terrarium designs. I found it challenging enough to find plants that would do well at all, let alone the daunting task of finding plant species that would exhibit well in a terrarium with frogs — yet small enough to stay confined to approximately 90 gallons — while at the same time be accurate to the regeion of interest

Mike pulled out the spreadsheet he had prepared and we went at it ...

Having no botanical background whatsoever made it challenging for me to keep everything straight

Piper plant in the Costa Rica exhibit is a favorite with both the Glass frogs and Lemur frogs

In the Amazon exhibit

Also in the Amazon exhibit, to the front

Mike, the one who made it possible for us to have beautiful plants, native to their regions of exhibit 

Having a world-class botanical garden greenhouse and conservatory a few few away from where I was designing the tanks didn't hurt.

Mike rinsing off the Ludovia, which has proven to be a favorite hiding leaf for Lemur frogs