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Scott Beuerlein                                           	 Experimentation builds knowledge, and the Zoo
                                                          learns through a robust trials program, a corner-
                 Trials Program                           stone of the Horticulture department. But learning
                                                          isn’t enough. The team eagerly shares its findings
	 Plants have been important to our Zoo since its         with the community. “If we just learned all of this on
founding, but they’ve gained greater notice since         our own and didn’t share it, that would be criminally
1987, when we officially added “Botanical Garden” to      wrong,” says Scott.
our name. People who visited our zoo decades ago          	 They communicate with commercial plant dis-
remember how hot it once was during the summers.          tributors around the region and across the country.
Today, the shade trees keep the temperature much          Steve says, “Nurseries want to know what we’re do-
more comfortable. “The difference is transforma-          ing because they respect our knowledge…” “...We’ve
tive,” says Scott.                                        gotten to know the plants solidly through 30 years
	 Steve remarks, “In 1873, Adolph Strauch, the head       of trials,” adds Scott.
of the park board said, ‘We want this to be more          	 Individual gardeners trust the Zoo, as evidenced
than just a zoo. We want it to be an experimental         when they turn out in droves for our symposiums
garden.’ By 1900, the zoo had more than 150 species       and classes. “Because they know if we can grow
of trees and 100 species of shrubs. That historic         something here in less-than-ideal [clay] soil with 1.6
piece is a critical part of our identity. The thing that  million people coming through, it’s got to be a plant
sets us apart from any other zoo in the country is        someone could successfully care for at home,” says
how we treat the grounds as a botanical garden,”          Steve.
continues Steve.                                          	 He adds, “Most people think they’re not very
                                                          good gardeners when really, they’re just not select-
                                                          ing the best quality product for our area. Hence, the
                                                          Zoo’s Horticulture team encourages local nurseries
                                                          to sell the plants best suited to life in our area, and
                                                          encourages buyers to seek those out. We’re trying to
                                                          develop diversity here. For example, we have 20 dif-
                                                          ferent vines alone.” Scott continues, “Which in the
                                                          end, winds up helping the home gardener be suc-
                                                          cessful. The more horticulture there is in the sub-
                                                          urbs and the cities, the better our environment, and
                                                          the better people’s lives.”

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