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You may be used to looking up in our trees or down in our gardening beds to enjoy some beautiful plants at our Zoo – but now you may need to start looking at the sides of our buildings! 

A new living plant wall has been placed on the side of our Cones eatery just outside of our Paws On loop! What you may not realize just looking at it: It features all Florida native plants! 

This project was generously funded by Mark and Nancy Tomassone in honor of Mark’s aunt Carol, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease earlier this year. The Tomassone’s learned of the plans for the wall and thought it would be a perfect way to memorialize her while donating to the Zoo. In addition, Mark is also a huge plant lover and Master Gardener! 

“My aunt loved plants and flowers and she and my uncle (who died many years before her) always supported their local zoo and other animal causes,” Mark said. “Also, since Nancy, my dad and my stepmother all volunteer at Brevard Zoo, I thought the living wall was a great way to honor my aunt’s memory as well as provide each of us a reminder of her whenever we walk into the Zoo.” 

The Tomassone’s hope the wall will encourage guests to think about Florida’s amazing native plants and maybe do some additional research and consider planting a few native plants in their own yards.    

“My hope is that the more guests engage with natives in their surroundings the more they will be inspired to use them in creative ways in their own home,” said Rose McKinnon, our landscape department supervisor.  

Using native plants in your garden provides so many benefits – both for you and the local ecosystem! Once established, these plants usually do not require extra water, fertilizer, or excessive trimming. Even a plant wall can provide habitat and forage for local wildlife as well- especially bees and butterflies. 

We also want to give a special thank you to Frida’s Living Design for their support of the Zoo! Designed by Frida’s Living Design, the wall has hexagonal clip in pots that will allow our landscaping team to change out a singular plant or the whole wall in a matter of minutes. Each pot is lined with a felt pouch that is watered via drip line from a rain barrel the team has attached to the gutters.  

While there shouldn’t be a need to swap out plants, the goal is to rotate the plants and design twice a year to keep it fresh and engaging. The wall is currently made up of false rosemary, quailberry, ground cover mimosa, frogfruit, and fakahatchee grass. 

“Hopefully guests will interact with the wall, touch, smell, take photos and be inspired by the diversity in textures and see how plants can be art,” Rose said.  

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.