Five times a year — spring, summer, fall, winter and Chinese New Year — the horticulture staff at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens builds a spectacular scene of sights and sounds. And the Vegas tourists (almost 20,000 a day) come.
As last week marked the official start of summer, the 13,573-square-foot conservatory is now in full bloom with a fitting display featuring 8,000 flowers, 70 live birds, bubbling water features, high-flying kites and a 26-foot-tall red and white striped lighthouse.
Patches of golden sunflowers (including an over-sized 14-foot-tall sunflower with three stems) brighten the exhibit’s West Garden while hydrangeas and chrysanthemums surround a tranquil pond with a row boat and waterfall in the North Garden. There is also a whimsical wooden treehouse and a collection of large botanical birds constructed from seeds and other organic materials.
At the center of the summer display is a glass-enclosed aviary with 70 live birds, including 50 finches and 12 rosey bourkes.
It’s no secret that summer in Vegas is hot, says the Bellagio’s Executive Director of Horticulture Andres Garcia. The conservatory provides a nice respite from the heat while paying homage to the season, he says.
“See this is what it’s all about,” he says, excitedly pointing out a mother and her young son admiring the birds in the aviary.
Upkeep of the Bellagio Conservatory is a full-time job for the horticulture staff of 120. In addition to the mammoth seasonal change-outs, most of the flowers in the Conservatory are hand watered and old flowers are switched out every two weeks.
No detail is left unattended in the Conservatory display. In the summer exhibit, air is perfectly piped through in just the right spots, rustling the leaves of the plants, the kites and the American flags so it feels and looks like summer wind.
While many guests would love to take home a piece of the Bellagio Conservatory for their own gardens, Garcia says those plants that are in good enough shape after the switch out are instead sold to employees who have an easier means to taking care of them right away. The remaining old plants are processed into mulch that is reused in the Conservatory and sold throughout the Las Vegas valley.
“We want to do what we can for the environment,” said Garcia. “We want to keep the flowers from the Conservatory out of the landfill.”
In addition to the colorful display, visitors to the Bellagio Conservatory can enjoy live music every day from 5 to 6 p.m.