River of Lights: How the plants become part of the display

River of Lights

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While the lights and sculptures are the stars at the River of Lights, the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden’s horticulture team also works hard to make sure the plants fit and become part of this display. The work never stops for the horticulture team. As one season comes to an end, the next one begins.

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Maria Thomas, curator of plants, leads a team of less than a dozen to transform the garden. The scenery switches from beautiful fall colors to a festive holiday and winter look. They add evergreens from a local florist, dogwood branches, curly willow, and dried lotus pods to create a wintery look.

The team also adds hundreds of Christmas flowers in every color of the rainbow that are grown in a temperature-controlled greenhouse. They also have close to 1,000 poinsettias that are displayed all across the ABQ Botanic Garden.

A show this big requires constant communication with the crew when setting up the lights displays. They meet up about every two weeks to talk about changes they need to make or rearrange displays.

As the final guests walk through, the team takes a small breath before preparing for the clean-up and the next event.

The River of Lights runs from Nov. 27 – Dec. 30 (closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25). Tickets will be sold in limited quantities and online only.

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