The 8,000- square-foot greenhouse has more than 1,000 species in distinct climates that range from humid, tropical jungles to arid deserts.
Mo Fayyaz MS’73, PhD’77 retired in August after 33 years as director of the greenhouse and nearby botanical gardens. "This job is just like juggling five, six balls at the same time," he said. "You cannot look to the side and let one go."
In the cold winter months, the greenhouse is an oasis where a fruit-bearing orange tree can prosper, the public can escape frigid temperatures and soak up some humidity, and art students can find a setting to do their work.
The "corpse flower" called Big Bucky attracted 30,000 visitors to the greenhouse when it bloomed in 2001. That was the first bloom in Madison for the Sumatra-native plant, also known as titan arum. It has bloomed four times since then.
Michael Forster Rothbart