Friday, November 2, 2018

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium...the plants! Part II

Yesterday (here) we toured some of the more established plantings at the PDZA, today we start off with a look at the Baja Bed in front of the Pacific Seas Aquarium, this area was just planted up last summer.

I loved seeing lots of blooming Hesperaloe parviflora, the yellow type (which I love, but have found to not be as vigorous in my garden as the red).

This area features numerous Agave gentryi. If you saw yesterday's post then you know Agave parryi has proven itself here at Pt Defiance, Bryon's treating these A. gentryi as an experiment. If they don't thrive then he'll replant with proven winners.

I think they'll thrive.

Of course there are already a few Agave parryi, for good measure.

They look great together...

Isn't the simple repetition of these plants fabulous?

I rather liked the solid concrete wall as a backdrop too.

The inclusion of the conifers had me thinking of my trips through Flagstaff and the northern parts of Arizona, an area that may even have more conifers than Eastern Washington.

Bryon kindly gave me a ticket to the aquarium so I did go inside as well, to see what the marine life was up to. I can stare at sea jellies for hours.

This display caught my eye too, when I go back it will definitely be on a weekday. I was wonderful to see so many families enjoying a day out, but I need a little less screaming to really enjoy my surroundings. I wonder if they have an adults only day at the Zoo?

On a sloping hill behind the aquarium building Bryon has planted a few Cycads. I love his desire to experiment and see what works and what doesn't.

Hopefully some of these will grow on to become massive specimens.

(same plant, different angle)

I was also able to visit an "out of the public eye" area where plants are grown not for the public but for the animals.

Little snack packs — or as I later learned when reading a Pacific Horticulture article by Sue Goetz (Is it a Zoo or is it a Garden?) maybe foliage to play with — were being assembled.

In that article Sue cited a figure of 600 kiwis as being grown as treats for the animals, how fabulous is that?

I wonder if any of them enjoy the Trachycarpus berries?

The last part of the garden I saw with Bryon was a steep planting in wood chips.

And gravel, do you see the tiny Opuntia pads?

The wood-chips are providing a happy home to plants like this Agave 'Mr. Ripple'.

As well as another Agave parryi...

Aloe striatula 'Burly'

And Lobelia tupa.

Not to mention a super spiky Agave gentryi 'Jaws'.

And multiple Yucca rostrata (I think?). While it's not common to plant things like this in wood-chips, they obviously aren't minding it.

After that I said goodbye to Bryon (he'd been so very generous with his time) and explored a bit more on my own.

Signs that the decorating for Zoo-lights was underway were visible here and there. My friend Peter has taken us on a couple of Zoo-lights tours in the past. Curious? Check it out here.

The next tour Bryon will be leading (after the The Jurassic Zoo tour this coming weekend), involves the Zoo's bamboo collection and will take place on December 2nd (info here).

I only saw a tiny portion of the bamboo at the Zoo, but in the PacHort article Sue wrote there are "over 50 species, which recently caught the attention of a national bamboo society"...

Just a couple more animal sightings before I head home, first this adorable White-cheeked Gibbon.

And this gorgeous tiger, whom appeared to be snacking on a leg (my shot of the meat was too blurry to use) but still managed to fix me directly in it's gaze (I zoomed in on the photo to be sure) as though it was saying "your leg is next there missy..."... yikes!

If you'd like to learn more about what Bryon's up to here at the PDZA, but can't make it to a tour, he's speaking at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, on Wednesday February 20th, at 6:45 pm. More info here, page down to Bryon Jones. I hope to be there, Bryon's excitement is infectious and his knowledge first-rate.

Weather Diary, Nov 1: Hi 68, Low 59/ Precip .01"

All material © 2009-2018 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. The Tetrapanax in your picture is a giant! Lots of yellow berries on it, but also a branch laying on the ground with darkened (ripe?) berries, and it appears to have been cut off, so maybe they do get fed to the animals.
    The sea jellies totally remind me of Andrew's art.

    1. Good eye! I wonder. And yes, I agree about the sea jellies.

  2. Every time I go to Zoolights, I'm the only one using a flash on my camera to take pictures of plants instead of the lights. These posts are a great reminder to go back and visit the zoo when it's light outside. It's heartening to see Mr. Ripple outside. Maybe mine will make it through the winter after all.

    1. I bet it will! How colder do you think your place is vs. PDZA?

  3. I love that last shot. Your posts have me thinking of visiting my own local zoos again. As to your next visit to PDZA, keep in mind that schools with their busloads of children usually schedule their tours on weekdays...

    1. Ugh, you're right of course. I'm falling back on my idea of an "adults only" day.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed these two posts, Loree - another place to put on the must-see list!

  5. What a fabulous new area that Aquarium garden is! The only thing missing is a bunch of whale's tongue Agaves.

    1. Interesting you say that. Bryon's not planted a single one. He mentioned seeing them at Riz's McMenamins, so they may be coming.

  6. Well that sure looks like a place worth visiting . I will surely add it to the agenda if my Or-Wa combo trip for summer 2019 becomes a reality.

    1. Hope it does! But are you also thinking Denver?

  7. The zoo has has added about two free days a month if you are a Tacoma resident. The weekday free days are not very busy. I think I enjoy the plantings there more than the animals.

    1. I'm a Portlander, but I love knowing that something like that happens. That's just good community building.

  8. Surprising choice of plants for that area, but they look happy and healthy--PNW conifers would not look like that in my area.

    Unfortunately allowing kids to run around and scream seems to be the standard practice for museums, zoos, aquariums, and so forth. Schools are omitting recess, and that energy must go somewhere.

    1. There's something to be said for causing people to stop and notice when you use new to them plants, right? And yes, kids are definitely allowed a freedom my brothers and I never experienced.

  9. Agave 'Mr. Ripple' ... I've just added that to my 'want it' list. I have to admit I've never even heard of it before... guess I need to get out of the office more often.

  10. Great Post! Love seeing cycas making there way to the PNW. I know they are tricky, but I am curious to see what they become. Maybe a couple species will like it here.

    I bought a cycas taitungensis a while back. It's in a pot now. Hopefully I will find the right spot for it to be planted soon.

    Great blog and instagram. Inspiring to see what you do!

    -Luke, from Tropical Seattle.


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