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Garden Safari: Plant Creations Will Come Alive at Franklin Park Conservatory

This summer, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden invites guests to embark on a captivating journey into the realm where nature and imagination intertwine. From June 3 to September 10, 2023, the Conservatory presents Garden Safari, an enchanting exhibition that brings to life a world where animals, meticulously crafted from live plants, awaken the senses and ignite wonder.

The heart of Garden Safari resides in the Conservatory’s courtyards, where visitors will encounter thirty lifelike topiaries representing a diverse array of animals from the land, air, and sea. These magnificent botanical sculptures astound with their uncanny ability to mimic the vibrant colors, intricate textures, and diverse forms of feathers, fur, scales, and skin.

The creation of Garden Safari is a testament to the talent and ingenuity of the Conservatory’s Horticulture and Exhibitions staff. From conception to construction and cultivation, this exceptional exhibition is the result of their unwavering dedication. Completely unique to Franklin Park Conservatory, Garden Safari stands as a testament to the Conservatory’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression and botanical artistry.

Courtesy of Franklin Park Conservatory

At Franklin Park Conservatory, the topiaries are not simply pruned and shaped from existing plant structures. Instead, steel frames are meticulously fabricated in-house, providing a solid foundation for the topiaries. These frames are then filled with sphagnum moss, creating a moist environment that ensures the vitality of the live plants. The skilled horticulturists adorn the frames with carefully selected plants, meticulously trimming and training them to flourish and envelope the topiary form.

Every aspect of building and maintaining the animal topiaries is carried out by the Conservatory’s talented in-house horticulture team. Their expertise and commitment shine through in the meticulous care and attention to detail dedicated to each living sculpture.

The animal faces of the topiaries come to life through the artistry of sculpting using epoxy clay. The eyes, capturing the essence of these living creatures, are crafted with precision using taxidermy or glass-blowing techniques by the skilled artisans in the Conservatory’s hot shop.

To ensure the vitality of the plants, some of the animal topiaries are equipped with concealed irrigation systems, efficiently nourishing the roots. Alternatively, some topiaries are meticulously watered using hoses, maintaining their lush appearance and vibrancy.

As the plants on the topiaries continue to grow, the horticulturists diligently trim and pin them back, ensuring the preservation of each animal’s distinct shape. This regular maintenance not only maintains the form of the topiaries but also encourages lateral branching and growth, resulting in fuller and thicker foliage.

Admission to Garden Safari is included with general admission to Franklin Park Conservatory. While reservations are not required, guests are encouraged to secure their tickets in advance for a seamless experience. Explore the mesmerizing Garden Safari exhibition, immerse yourself in the beauty of nature’s artistry, and follow the Conservatory on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more information and updates.