The seemingly infinite flowers of the Dallas Arboretum are blooming in a new nursery.
A technologically advanced, 17,000-square-foot greenhouse will nurture new plants before they grace the Arboretum's walkways and gardens.
The new facility, set in an industrial district on the Mesquite-Dallas border, recently opened and is full of plants inside the greenhouse and on the surrounding acres in what's called the Tom and Phyllis McCasland Horticulture Center. It will provide 60% of the colorful plants used at the Arboretum.
"This is going to be game changing," says Jenny Wegley, vice president of horticulture at the Arboretum.
The greenhouse, just eight miles from the Arboretum, allows the staff to grow their own plants rather than depending on what's available from commercial growers.
"Owning our greenhouses allows us to grow many small batches of unique specimens," says Alan Walne, the Arboretum's board chairman.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Wegley demonstrated some of that technology by pressing a small button. Shade drapes began to quietly move along rails just under the ceiling. They will provide shade during the glaring summer days and help retain heat in the winter.
"It will take four minutes," she said. At previous greenhouses, "we used to have to do it by hand. That took a week."
Watering also is much easier and more precise. Ana Swinson, the greenhouse manager, opened what looked like an electrical panel box. Inside were the readouts for the different humidity, temperature and light zones in the greenhouse. She can see what's going on and adjust it according to plant needs. The settings are recorded and saved. Swinson can look back, see the settings that had the best results and use them again.