Photos: 500 butterflies frolic in Bellagio’s spectacular spring display
Fri, Mar 18, 2011 (10:18 a.m.)
Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe
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To celebrate spring and warmer days that give us longer daylight hours, the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens feature a spectacular floral exhibit filled with bright blooms and a playful carnival. Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was there as 500 butterflies were released as the final part of the display, which will remain through May 8.
“They are amazing,” Tom told VegasDeLuxe.com. “Each in their own envelope, and while some immediately wanted to flap their wings and fly into the gardens, others were reluctant to leave the nest! It took a long time to get good photos of the butterflies. I’ve never shot butterflies before, so I had to have lots of patience, and I talked to them like dancers trying to coax them into flying toward the camera.
“It was quite a show for the tourists, and they wound up giving me a round of applause when I finally succeeded in getting the shots.”
At the entrance, guests stroll through a walkway lined with eight lampposts and Linden trees with dazzling lights strung above. Nearby, a moving 11-foot-tall carousel makes its conservatory debut. Weighing more than 8,600 pounds, it is adorned with 330 clear bulbs and colorful acrylic balloons. A cedar ticket booth completes the scene. Steps away, a 40-foot full-scale Ferris wheel decorated with animated lighting adds to the spirit of a spring carnival.
The display also includes four gardens and a greenhouse full of butterflies. The stone rustic greenhouse is the centerpiece of the exhibit and houses more than 500 butterflies from around the world. A “fantasy” tree decorated with cherry blossoms and spiraling branches stands 25 feet and weighs 3,300 pounds. The tree was first formed into a metal skeleton and then covered with more than 420,000 feet of willow branches. Two egrets guard their nest on the banks of a small pond, while oversized butterflies made of flax and onion seeds, strawflowers and sweet rice hang overhead.
A painting has been duplicated in flowers, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art’s loaned David Hockney’s Garrowby Hill (1998) from its new exhibit “A Sense of Place: Landscapes From Monet to Hockney” opening April 16. The conservatory’s horticulturalists created an interpretation of the art piece from colorful flowers. The re-created painting is fitted within a 6-foot-tall, elaborately carved frame accompanied by a 12-foot, wood-tapered painter’s brush and palette.
In any given week, 9,620 flowers will be on display, and gardeners estimate that they will use a total of 86,000 over the next seven weeks. Admission is free, and the exhibit is open 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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