Many challenges came into play when the City of Baltimore, Maryland, contracted with Initial Tropical Plants to renovate the historical conservatory in Druid Hill Park. The renovation was to include each of the park?s four display greenhouses.

Plants have become something we expect to see when we walk through the door of many businesses. Interiorscaping has become increasingly popular, and many landscape architects and interior designers now include plants in their design specifications for new shopping centers, office complexes, and other public areas.

However, bringing plants indoors can present a host of problems. Plants still require certain amounts and types of light and soil. Additionally, being confined to small areas inside buildings makes working on them difficult.

Led by Mark Hawry, senior project foreman at Initial Tropical plants, a crew was assembled from the company?s Washington D.C. branch, in addition to staff members from across the United States. They were responsible for procuring, providing, and installing all the necessary plant material, custom-blended soil, and natural stone boulders needed for this renovation. It was a challenging task.

?While some challenges would have been faced by any large project, some were particularly unique to this job,? said Hawry. ?Five separate mobilizations over ten months were needed to bring this complicated project to completion.?

The crew had very limited use of heavy equipment inside the buildings. ?We were working in a very small space, in a very old, fragile building. We didn?t have the room to maneuver large pieces of equipment, and the building and walkways couldn?t support the weight of that equipment anyway,? Hawry said. ?We were forced to rely on manpower rather than mechanized efforts.?

Boulders were shipped in from locales as distant as Utah. While boom lifts were used to unload the boulders from the truck and bring them to the conservatory buildings, they had to be moved inside and installed without the aid of powered equipment. This was no small feat, considering that some of the boulders weighed between 1,500 and 2,300 pounds. Four to five men were needed to position each one. Additionally, 500 cubic yards of soil had to be placed, primarily by men with wheelbarrows.

The planting design went through many changes, ultimately requiring 80 percent of the plant list to be re-located and resecured. The final planting design had to be developed on-site in concert with Bill Vondrasek, director at Druid Hill Park, and Kate Blom, supervisor of the Ini- Circle 185 on Reader Response Card tial Plants? team.

A major feature of one of the greenhouses was a ?Green Wall? that displays epiphytic plants, (plants that grow on or are attached to other living plants) on a wall covered with living vines. The team developed a rockwool growing medium, which was inserted into metal trellis panels that were then fastened to the wall. The epiphytic plants were mounted onto wooden slabs hung on the trellis. It was a unique way to display plants almost exclusively seen outdoors.

The finished project is now a beautiful feature of Druid Hill Park. Initial Tropical Plants proved that while interior planting may be difficult, it?s not impossible.