Evolve aimed to take show visitors on a tour of discovery through 450 million years of plant evolution.
Around 4,000 plants and more than 100 tonnes of topsoil were used to create the evolving plantscape from hundreds of mosses and ferns to the evergreen Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle tree), Taxodium distichum, and Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair tree). Flowering plants included orchids, anthuriums and bromeliads.
As the variety of plants evolved over time and increased throughout the biome, so did their form, texture and colour. The journey started with a limited rock-scape with only a handful of tiny, delicate ferns and mosses. Then ferns appear with broad and robust foliage and more advanced reroductive systems, closely followed by the emergence of the first trees including Wollemia nobilis and Metasequoia glyptostroboides. As the journey brought visitors to the first flowering plants, pale-coloured orchids and creamy Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) gave way to a floral rainbow to represent man’s cultivation of garden plants. Calycanthus (sweetshrub) and Magnolia grandiflora are the earliest known flowering plants, which first appeared in the Cretaceous period, 145-66 million years ago.