When you hear about pollinators, and I’m happy to see lots of attention now being paid to their predicament, I bet you don’t think of geckos, like this plant-based sculpture of one pollinating a Trochetia flower.

Or even less likely to be on my pollinator radar is the lemur in this sculpture, in a sculpture with the traveler’s tree it pollinates in its native Madagascar. Right there, that’s two pollinators I won’t be trying to attract to my garden.

These and eight other plant-based sculptures of pollinating animals and the plants they pollinate are a wonderful new addition to the holiday train show at the U.S. Botanic  Garden in D.C. 

The trains had always been displayed indoors and they were so popular, long lines were a problem. Starting last year, post-covid, the trains were brought outdoors and with no line and easy viewing, it proved to be a much happier experience.  And now with the lemur, a gecko, assorted birds and bees, it’s the best ever, imho.   

The new pollinator sculptures, like the replicas of DC’s iconic buildings inside the Conservatory, were made exclusively from plant parts by this amazing company just outside Cincinnati.  (Scott, you must visit!) The signage near each sculpture is excellent.

Above, Euglossine orchid bee pollinating a vanilla orchid flower.Here’s what the visitors information page says about the sculptures:

The pollinator-plant scenes made from plant parts include:

  • Euglossine orchid bee pollinating a vanilla orchid flower
  • Chocolate midge pollinating a cacao flower
  • Bat pollinating a banana flower
  • Lemur pollinating a traveler’s tree flower
  • Gecko pollinating a Trochetia flower
  • Honeycreeper bird pollinating a lobelia flower
  • Pygmy possum pollinating a banksia flower
  • Mosquito pollinating an orchid
  • Yucca moth pollinating a yucca flower
  • Milkweed flower and milkweed beetle
  • and more

About 75% of all flowering plant species need animal pollinators for reproduction. As a result, pollinators contribute to ecosystem health and a sustainable food supply.

Inside the Conservatory, Practically Towering Poinsettias

Indoors, the holiday show always includes plant-based icons of D.C., with poinsettias and other showy tropical plants, like this pointy-leaf variety of sweet potato vine that I’d never seen before. I’d also never seen six-foot-tall poinsettias, like this one. The staffer who grew them told me they’ll reach 30 feet in the tropics.  

Here are the horticulture employees who grew and installed the poinsettias and other holiday exhibit plants. From left to right: Bobby Anderson, Chibueze Ariguzo, and Howard Luckey. Well done, guys!