As you may have noticed, things are looking a little different around our Greenhouse and Gift Shop! Our team has been hard at work reorganizing and revitalizing our displays for 2023, and they've even created a few new decorative elements just for the occasion. Keep reading to learn more.
As we've been thinking about the plants inside our homes that keep us going this time of year, we're thankful to be plant parents at this moment in history. Never before has there been such a wide variety of plants available to the houseplant hobbyist. It is incredible to consider that on any given day, you can walk into our Greenhouse and pick three plants at random, and in all likelihood they will hail not only from different countries, but from different continents!
One of the great centers for houseplant diversity is the Neotropics, a bioregion that extends from southern Mexico through South America. And walking around our Greenhouse, we have been particularly inspired by the many plants that come to us from this part of the world, whether they are native to its arid deserts or humid cloud forests. And these biomes in particular have influenced our Greenhouse reorganization.
Navigating Our Greenhouse
On the north end of the Greenhouse, you will now find many plants that hail from tropical and sub-tropical forests like the cloud forests of Central and South America, including epiphytes like orchids and bromeliads. To demonstrate their origin, our houseplant team has created a number of puffy clouds that now hang above our displays in this part of the Greenhouse, as well as a moss wall to showcase the many air plants that we have for sale. (Many of our low-light and pet-safe houseplants can also be found on this side of the Greenhouse, as well.)
On the south end, you will find many plants from hotter, drier climes like the deserts of Mexico, including cacti, agaves, and other succulents. For this portion of the Greenhouse, our team has designed a collection of papier-mâché suns to preside over these bright-light plants as they grow. In honor of the pre-Columbian cultures that have a long history with many of these plants, we have chosen to create five of these solar symbols as a nod to an Aztec creation myth.
The Five Suns of the Aztecs
In Aztec cosmology, the present world is one of five that have existed in a grand cycle of creation and destruction, each ruled over by a different god who assumed the role of the sun. These suns are named for the forces that have befallen (or will befall) the world beneath them.
- Nahui-Ocelotl (Jaguar Sun)
- Nahui-Ehécatl (Wind Sun)
- Nahui-Quiahuitl (Rain Sun)
- Nahui-Atl (Water Sun)
- Nahui-Ollin (Earthquake Sun)
The Aztecs believed that they were — and by extension, we are — the inhabitants of this fifth earth after the prior versions of humanity were wiped out by droves of jaguars, terrible winds, rains of fire, and a sea of tears, respectively. These four cycles of destruction corresponded with the four suns of ages past. The Aztecs called themselves the people of the sun, and made ritual sacrifices to the fifth sun in order to forestall the destruction of this world, which will supposedly come about via a terrible earthquake.
You will notice that our representations of these suns alludes to each of their part in the story in both color and form. But they not only represent the Aztec legend: Along with the clouds on the opposite end of the Greenhouse, they also serve as a visual reminder of the conditions preferred by the plants growing nearby. As a general rule, the plants beneath the Five Suns will thrive best in spaces with lots of bright light and less frequent watering, whereas those beneath the cover of our clouds will want higher humidity, more frequent watering, and low-to-moderate light.
If you ever have a question about what kinds of conditions a certain houseplant will like and don't happen to have symbols like these hanging above you to help clue you in, an easy place to start is by looking up where it grows in the wild. That will tell you a lot about what a plant will expect.
Feel free to ask our friendly-and-knowledgeable houseplant team for help with picking out or caring for a new houseplant. Or, ask us about the process of creating the new decorative elements we made! For more information about the Aztec legend that inspired us, we invite you to visit this link that helped to guide our creative journey.