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Is it a Zoo or is it a Garden?

Articles: Is it a Zoo or is it a Garden?

Adventuresome seasonal compositions include blossoms of the Chilean fire tree (Embothrium coccineum) against a underplanting of black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’). Photo: Sue Goetz

The word “zoo” is short for “zoological gardens,” —historically a place to collect and foster animals. True to that definition, when we think of a zoo, we think of the animals. So how about refreshing that “garden” part? As animal conservation has moved to the forefront of modern zoos, plants are also becoming an integral part of zoo collections across the nation. How a zoo is landscaped becomes an important reminder that plants are the foundation for creating animal habitat.

Recently I went to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, expecting to see the place where I took my children when they were young. Somehow, over the years (and without toddlers to entertain) I missed the transformation of this once-familiar destination. This time, I saw the fauna and the flora. A large agave collection and soft blue Nolina nelsonii greeted me at the entry leading to wide pathways that meandered through...

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