Plantosaurus Rex

– Posted in: Garden Adventures, Garden Photography

Got your attention ?  Escaping dinosaur at San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers ?  Is this KapliPRO ?!

Some of you may remember the post I did a few months ago when I was photographing for the exhibit at the Conservatory – Vantage Point – Looking Up.  I went looking for plants that were on this earth in the Mesozoic Era, prehistoric plants in the age of dinosaurs.  Photomurals were to become the background of the exhibit.

The exhibit itself now open at  until October 21, features ancient plants, from Triassic 250 million years ago up to the evolution of flowers at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.  The star of the show is not my photos or even the plants in the exhibit but the roaring Tyranosaurus rex (yes, sound effects), carved from molded styrofoam by artist Bridget Kiemel.

The Conservatory’s ongoing exhibits are designed to be educational and family oriented so it is no small surprise that exhibit guru Lau Hodges incorporated the dinosaurs.  They are kid magnets.  Having the T. rex head appear to break through the ceiling and growl in the direction of the ticket booth is sheer inspiration.

It was also inspired to use the photo murals as background for much of the interior.

The redwood trees are my favorite, especially since they get to stand alone towering above the entrance to the exhibit.  The mural had to be cut into three pieces to make a trapezoid that could fit into the space but if you don’t look too closely you could almost imagine the dinosaurs, back in the day, being dwarfed underneath the worlds tallest trees.

redwood tree photo mural behind dinosaur

All the other photos serve as backdrop to the living plants and give the room a sense of enclosure.  We needed to test different fabrics to be sure the photos were sheer enough to allow light to keep the plants healthy, but not too sheer to see the actual structure of the building.  What is really thrilling, as a photographer, is the backlighting allows the photos to glow, much more than a print on a flat wall.

The big photo of Cycads give a huge sense of lushness.  They also look truly pre-historic.

The scale of the 10 foot tall photos really help to establish a setting for the specimen plants.  While I am disappointed the photos are not standing alone as if in an art gallery, that is not their purpose.  They are not really meant to be seen, the viewer is invited to look at the living plants.  Oh, and the critters too.

The background photo makes the small plants (Norfolk Island Pines and Gingko) seem to be seedlings in a forest, though the original photo makes me wonder what (where I found the tall trees) would look like with dinosaurs running around.


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Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at
Saxon Holt

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