While gardeners are gaga for plants, we do realize that gardening is actually a bit more than green things that grow from the ground. A proper garden would not be a garden without the supporting cast commonly referred to as animals and insects. A butterfly brightens as well as a dahlia. Without the earthworms, we would be working on concrete rather than soil. And while some critters are not so welcome, the fact is that plants and animals go had in hand like peanut butter and jelly (though I tend to think of deer like chunky peanut butter. I have never been a fan of the chunky kind).
Which is why it is so cool that the Cleveland Botanical Gardens has incorporated the animal aspect into the glasshouse. Outside, animals are a breeze to attract. Let’s face it, it’s where all the rich deer in Cleveland plan to have their wedding receptions. But inside, keeping animals happy and healthy is not so easy. Which is where Matt Edwards comes in.
Matt is the animal caretaker for the CBG. It is his job to make sure the animals are happy, healthy and content. Matt has worked at the CBG for about 3 Â½ years now. In a blatant rip off of ReadyMade magazine, we are going to have a quick round of HYGTFAJ.
So, how does one land a job wandering through lush gardens caring for animals and getting paid for it? Well, a biology degree, a lizards and amphibian hobby along with a healthy dose of sheer luck and damn good timing. The cool thing about Matt is he is also a die-hard gardener. How do I know this? Because when a Clevelander waxes lyrical about their brugmansias, gardening is not just a hobby, it is an obsession. Matt and I traded thoughts on brugs, orchids and all the rest.
There was, of course, the obligatory butterflies. Lovely to behold, delightful to see and slightly embarrassing as they mated on the walkway (just one couple, I guess they were exhibitionists), they are the basic part of any garden display. We got a close up look at the chrysalises before we got to see the mature adults and it was funny the range of cocoons. The Cream Spotted Tiger Wing’s looked as though they has just come straight from a Star Wars set, while the Owl butterfly’s cocoon looks like a dead leaf.
My favorite had to be the red eyed tree frog. An amphibian that is a big winner in our house due to the fact we love Wartz from It’s a Big, Big World. Seeing one in real life is like seeing Technicolor for the first time. That picture does not do that animal’s color justice.
Butterflies are not the only exoskeleton critter at the CBG. They have ants. Not just ants, but leaf cutter ants, which was like the coolest nature program subject to watch when I was a kid.
The best part about the CBGs greenhouse is the birds. The bird song is constant and the thing that just streaked by you was a bird. They have no fear of humans and I will guarantee that you will get within 2 feet of one while you are there.
The images in this post are set up to enlarge, so click on them to get a closer look at any of these fun animals. Of coourse, seeing the real thing is always better.