Savage Gardens Eating Up the Conservatory

Anne Evans Anne Evans Savage Gardens Eating Up the Conservatory
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Carnivorous plants have taken over the Franklin Park Conservatory in the latest installation of art and plants called Savage Gardens, The Real and Imaginary World of Carnivorous Plants. The show opens on Saturday, July 10 and runs through November 14, 2010. Special activities for opening day include making your own mini-bog (pre-registration required, $45 Members, $50 Non-members) from 9:30-11:30am, Family Fun Saturday from 11am to 1pm with a story time at 2pm and an educational session on bugs from Noon-2pm. Savage Gardens was an idea pitched to the Conservatory six years ago by local sculptural art company TORK, Inc. Part of the inspiration for the show was for “small kids just to freak out” and to “open their imaginations up,” said co-owner Tony Ball. TORK created four larger-than-life sculptures of four plants, the Tropical Pitcher Plant, the North American Pitcher Plant, the Venus flytrap and the Sundew so that people can feel like an insect would around them.

The first sculpture you will see is across from the check-in desk in The Atrium. You look straight ahead at the beautiful blossom of the Sundew and then down below are over 500 tentacles, illuminated with fiber optics. It does a great job of creating how you would come across the plant in its natural habitat.

One of the commissioned works was done by artists Jenn Figg and Matthew McCormack. They created an installation piece of the creeping plant, the witches’ weed Datura. Datura lures you in close with beautiful flowers and then releases toxic hallucinogens. Not that this one will, it is all steel and glass so you will have to go elsewhere for your love potion ingredients. They both really enjoyed creating the piece and did all of the glass work at Glass Axis. Creating and installing the piece took about three weeks of working through the night because of the current hot temperatures. The Moonflower is one of their favorite plants so when the call for artists went out it was naturally the one they selected. The piece will become part of the Conservatory’s collection and is located in Himalayan Room.

The sculptures sprinkled throughout the Conservatory alongside the plants do a wonderful job of highlighting “where artistic endeavor and the natural world meet,” said Executive Director Bruce Harkey. Bruce demonstrates the larger-than-life size of TORK’s 10 foot tall Tropical Pitcher Plant. The sculpture, located in The Rainforest area, invites you to “step inside to imagine the fate of an unlucky insect.”

In The Bonsai Garden, you will see TORK’s huge Venus flytrap sculpture that mimics the real thing when you push a button. You have to push the button twice to get the plant to close. You can see a video of them working on the sculpture here. In the same area are real Venus flytraps, including the largest variety, the B-52. Venus flytraps really only need to feed a few times per year to survive. Each day at 1pm, a Conservatory Horticulturist will demonstrate a carnivorous plant feeding. Horticulturist Amanda Bettin demonstrates one on a B-52 below:

With sculptures, a juried art show, hand painted banners, a puppet display and a digital display of cartoons, Savage Gardens is sure to please everyone. You can visit the Franklin Park Conservatory daily from 10am-5pm and on Wednesday from 10am-8pm.

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