By Kyle Jacoby
Manager of Exhibitions 

As you entered the Limonaia during the 2020 Orchid Show you were greeted by a stunning display of art and horticulture. There was no better representation of these two things working together than Eden. Sitting high up on the eastern wall of the conservatory was the face of Eden, beautifully crafted by Artist Croc, surrounded by floral hair designed by our Horticulture Team. Eden captured the imagination and wonder of visitors throughout the Orchid Show. Each day chatter filled the Limonaia. How did it come together? Where did the idea come from? How are the plants hanging up there? These are just a few of the many questions that puzzled visitors. I’m here to give you a glimpse into the process of how Eden came to be.

The Idea

Exhibitions are typically guided by a theme. This theme acts as a big idea we want everything to connect back to. Themes guide us in our decision making and help create an impactful, meaningful and holistic experience for our visitors. For the Orchid Show our theme was all about how nature and humans are connected. Once we have this theme, we can begin to brainstorm how to bring it into reality. In a series of meetings between our Education Team, Horticulture Team, Facilities Team and the Artist we began to piece a plan together for how the Orchid Show would look based on our theme. It was during those meetings that the idea for a street art designed face surrounded by floral hair emerged. This would be a perfect blend of human and nature in one display. When ideas surface, we get an initial agreement that we all feel it can be done. However, the finer details tend to emerge later. One thing was certain though. We wanted this face to be big and to hang it on the wall of the Limonaia.

How would we do it?

Not long after we solidified the displays for the Orchid Show we needed to finalize the size of Eden. This would be critical because our Horticulture Team would need it to plan for the floral hairpiece. Math was very important in this initial planning. Without accurate math everything would be thrown off. So the Limonaia wall was measured to understand the space we had to work with. A scale of the eastern wall of the Limonaia was then sent to Croc. Based on those measurements he suggested a 10×7 face which would leave plenty of space for the surrounding floral hair while also providing the size we were looking for. We all agreed, and Croc had what he needed to begin painting.

The next step was to figure out how the floral hair would be designed and arranged. This challenge presented a lot of questions. What material could be used that would easily secure to the wall? How would we water the plants without needing a lift? How would this fit around the face without harming the artwork? How can we complete it without any of the hair structure showing? It was these and other questions that helped guide us towards finding solutions. That solution came in the form of plywood and lots of nails.

The plan was to use ¾” marine grade plywood cut out in the desired shape of hair piece. Plywood would allow us to secure it safely to the wall with a series of bolts and cables. Hundreds of 4” stainless steel nails would then be hammered through the back of the plywood. These nails would be used to support the arrangement of pots the flowers would be in. Two nails per pot would be angled upwards at 45 degrees. The pot would then slide onto the nail. This would allow for simple and quick plant installation which was important because the plants could not be added until the week before the show. Once the structure (without pots) was hung on the wall a drip system would b