Wild Worlds is all about celebrating the 21,000 incredible animals and amazing plants, as well as the brilliant spaces right here at the zoo.
With 125 acres to maintain, our Horticulture and Botany Team work hard all year round (in all weathers) to make sure the gardens and animal habitats are in tip-top condition. This year the team have also been involved in Wild Worlds and have worked alongside artists and landscape designers to create new and exciting spaces within the zoo. The Horticulture and Botany Team is made up of three departments each specialising in a different area; they are the Nursery Team, Projects Team and the Gardens Team.
Our Gardens Team Manager, Christopher Ryan, tells us more about the team, the work they do and how they’ve been involved in Wild Worlds…
“Our Gardens Team is made up of seven horticulturists and two seasonal staff this year to support the team during the busy summer months. The team look after and maintain all the garden and planted areas across the zoo, including the animal habitats.
“The team have been involved in the majority of the Wild World sites at some stage of their development, but the largest involvement has been collaborating with Jane Revitt to design and install the newly landscaped and planted areas around the three Talking Chairs and with Helmut Lemke and Kerry Morrison on the Honey Bee Garden to provide a wide range of nectar plants for the bees and assist with the installation of the hives and bee keepers hut. The ongoing maintenance of the Wild World gardens will also be carried out by the Gardens Team.
“The theme of each garden area influenced the choice of species and varieties of plants used. For The Feather Chair Garden plants were chosen that will reflect the plumage of the flamingos, with different colours and textures that will continue to develop as the plants grow.
“Around the The Catmint Chair we included the plant species that are most frequently used by the animal and bird teams for enrichment and which are all mentioned in the soundtrack of the chair.
“It’s been exciting being involved in the Wild Worlds project right from the start and seeing how each of the areas have and will continue to develop. Meeting and working with a wide range of artists and designers that have brought different ideas and interpretations to showcase the plant collections, gardens and conservation work that that takes place at Chester Zoo has been really rewarding.
“I hope Wild Worlds will continue to generate a lot of interest from our visitors. We’ve had a lot of questions from people during the installation stage of the garden areas that we have been involved with. Hopefully this will continue to grow throughout the festival with the range of installations and opportunities for them to gain a greater insight into the work of Chester Zoo. Hopefully visitors will also be inspired by their visit and interaction with Wild Worlds and this will encourage them to overcome any ‘plant blindness’ and take a closer look at their natural surroundings with a better understanding.
“I think that it is important that people see and find out as much as possible about the natural environment and how important all the elements are that make up the habitats that both humans and wildlife relies on for survival.
“There are many special spaces around the zoo and my favourite changes with the seasons. All the Wild Worlds areas are amazing but visitors should also look out for other garden areas in the zoo too. During the spring and summer months the Rock Garden and Sunken Garden are favourites for the splash of colour that they provide in these quieter areas in the zoo. Throughout the autumn and winter there is always something different to see in The Plant Project and this shouldn’t be missed, especially on the colder or wetter days.