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Leigh Anne Lomax is the Manager of Horticulture and Zoo Facilities at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. We sat down to ask her a couple of questions about her background and horticulture at the Zoo.

What is your favorite part about working in Zoo horticulture?

I really love the interaction of plants, animals, and people and the unique challenges we face as zoo horticulturists. Our team not only works to make the Zoo beautiful, but we have important roles in assisting with the well being of the animals in our care. I also find it very rewarding to work for an organization that supports conservation around the world.

Do you have a favorite plant or flower at the Zoo?

The answer to that depends on the season, time of day, day of the week, and what is blooming right in front of me. I have a great love of plants, and I am constantly learning something new.

There are so many great plants in the zoo. Mostly, I hope people see the plants and landscape as a whole and find inspiration to take home with them to their own gardens and landscapes.

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The Zoo has a few on-site greenhouses that are closed to the public but are full of plants used for both browse and decor.

How did you begin working in Zoo horticulture?

Having a strong desire to work in a public garden is a must. I got very lucky and did an internship at a zoo and botanical garden while I was in college. That opened the door for me in the field and led to a position at another zoo after college. It isn't an easy field to get started in, and I am so grateful that I had that first chance. I truly love my job and I am grateful that I get to do what I love.

How would you simply describe horticulture to someone who doesn't know what it is?

Zoo horticulture is the art and science of growing plants in a zoo setting. Not only do we make the zoo beautiful for our guests to enjoy, but we also provide browse for the animals to eat, monitor for toxic plants and invasive plants, assist with exhibit design, provide interpretive opportunities, and create pollinator friendly gardens just to name a few things we do daily.

How long have you been working at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo?

Four years. It is amazing how fast time flies!

What is one thing you'd like to do/accomplish at the Zoo in the future?

So. Many. Things! I have plans upon plans in my head and they are gradually working their way onto paper and into reality.

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