“Even if you can just make it one time, you’ll leave a mark on the show,” says Kristin Dugas, a staff member at Krohn Conservatory. Dugas is the main designer for several of Krohn Conservatory’s flower shows. Right now, she’s gearing up for the fall show, and she’s on the lookout for volunteers interested in making the show’s props.

“It’s essentially very close to theatrical prop building … but they’re going to get rained on.” Dugas’s props have to stand up to varied and harsh conditions — from the rainforest in Krohn’s front hall to the dry heat of the desert biome room. Dugas and her team have to keep their options open in order to complete such a task. “I’m known as the hoarder,” she says. Her team saves everything, just in case it might be useful one day: yogurt cups, egg cartons, shade cloths, exterior paint, Lego bricks and, the true VIP, Styrofoam. “Because it’s horrible for the landfill and it’s extremely expensive to buy.”

Krohn’s shows are built around themes, from the regular summer butterfly show, to the current apothecary show, a bicycle-themed show, the Fairy Flower Festival and a “Homemade Holiday” show. Krohn’s full-time horticulturalists pick plants around the theme, and Dugas’s props are scattered throughout the exhibition to drive a theme home. She’s built giant lollipops for a candy-themed show, and, with a volunteer’s expert help, created basketball-sized paper roses, calla lilies, dandelions and protea. She’s also responsible for constructing the giant colorful butterfly that spans the front of Krohn’s façade every summer.

Krohn Conservatory’s main warehouse in Eden Park is full of the raw ingredients necessary to astonish the botanically curious, and you can get in on the action. If you’re interested in making props for upcoming shows, or if you want to hear about more ways to help out a Cincinnati icon, Krohn Conservatory, contact Kristin at kristin.dugas@cincinnati-oh.gov. She’s looking for volunteers of all schedules and experience levels. You can also meet Dugas in person and hear more about what she has in mind for the winter show at Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, September 15.

Photo by Jeff Kubina.

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