Two breathtaking exhibits, a tulip invasion and a beautiful reflection of North Texas resilience.
Fort Worth Botanic Garden (FWBG) and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) are welcoming spring with a bang! Visit their newest exhibits – “Topiaries in the Garden” and “Stickwork” – to see for yourself. The two exhibits showcase the splendor and resilience of North Texas flora and foliage, as well as the people who care for and honor them. As a bonus, a colorful mosaic of daffodils, hyacinths, pansies, poppies and 126,000 blooming tulips carpet walkways and flower beds.
Topiaries in the Garden
The 12 plant-based animals of Topiaries in the Garden are a whimsical delight to visitors of all ages. There’s a handsome gorilla with its child, ruby-colored cardinal, and a proud trio of elephants overlooking a pond, among other members of the menagerie. The majority of the animal-shaped frames were rented from the Franklin Conservatory and Botanic Gardens in Ohio, and are stuffed with sphagnum peat moss or another growing medium, and bound with fishing line. Once in Texas, they were planted with flowering annuals and other local plants by the FWBG team.
Surviving the Storm
Each native species was carefully selected to simulate the color and texture of the animal they adorn. Like the regal, long-legged giraffe who towers above, sporting a flowing mane of Mexican feather grass. Each exhibit piece, along with the standard, permanent displays, requires regular groundskeeping from the garden staff and its team of volunteers. Then there was the extra TLC following the record low freeze and wintry weather Texas experienced in early February. The garden was not immune to the challenges this brought, but staff and volunteers pushed forward.
“We must regularly replant anyways…,” Steve Huddleston, Public Relations Manager and former Senior Horticulturist for 26 years, said, only days after the snow melted. The team just had to “do it a bit sooner than [they’d] planned.”
A Haven of Hardiness
Indeed, the plants are flourishing, as if they’d never felt the bite of frost just weeks before. They make the garden a haven for many home-bound individuals and families, as well as an emblem of Texas hardiness. As you delve further into the grounds, your senses will be fully engaged; there’s the obvious visual bounty of colorful petals, vines, decorative bushes, and leaves every direction you look, along with a fragrant, floral perfume wafting through the air wherever you stroll.
You may also awaken childhood memories when you come across the unique Stickwork exhibit, aptly named “Playin’ Hooky.” The large-scale sculpture resembles a wind-swept, woodland hideaway, or perhaps a small medieval outpost deep within an elven forest, perfect for an impromptu adventure. The display is a true masterpiece, created under the direction of world-renowned artist and sculptor Patrick Dougherty. (Look out for our upcoming interview with Dougherty.)
The large, woven structures are made entirely by hand from bending and intertwining branches. There are no wires, rope, or fasteners of any kind, only truckloads of supple (and thus pliable) saplings and branches gathered from local trees, including American elm, rough-leaved dogwood, and cedar elm. Dougherty and his son, his full-time assistant, arrived on February 1st to get started on the project. Construction lasted 19 days with the help of volunteers and garden staff. Despite the primitive building techniques, the display can withstand the elements, potentially lasting 1-2 years; the exhibit itself, however, will only run until December. But don’t wait until then to visit!
When to Visit
Early spring is the best time to visit, when displays are flourishing and the weather is perfect for walking or picnicking. Likewise, the fairly recent merger of both FWBG and BRIT means there are only more exciting things to come, including upcoming educational events, virtual lectures, and inspiring exhibits, offering something for all ages.
Visit for the beauty, to marvel at the hard work and coordination of the entire team, and to celebrate the resilience of North Texas! And, be sure to visit while the tulips are in bloom. Exhibits are included with admission ($12, adults; $10, seniors 65+; $6, children 6-15; free for 5 and under). Members receive free entry.
Topiaries in the Garden runs through June 30
Stickwork is viewable until December.
Cover photo courtesy Fort Worth Botanic Garden
N.L.Thi-Hamrick is devoted to all things that bring joy: good food, writing freely, lots of smiles,
and pursuing things that make you feel worthwhile.