Bellagio docents are fonts of information

Anywhere from 18,000 to 22,000 people walk through the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens on a given day, according to executive director of horticulture Andres Garcia.

And hundreds of them have questions: "What's this flower?" or "Can I plant this in the summer?" or even "How do I get to the airport?"

Conservatory employees had to stop their pruning or watering to answer. It's company policy. And while they were happy to help guests, the interruptions sometimes interfered with their work, Garcia says.

So last month, the conservatory introduced Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb, the attraction's first docents.

Every day from 10:30 a.m. to noon, one of Garcia's horticulturists dons a special name tag and mingles with guests.

The response has been overwhelming. Guests see the sign in the conservatory advertising docent times and they stick around to ask their questions, Garcia says. He plans to expand the program slowly, adding additional hours when possible.

The docents are volunteers from Garcia's staff of 115 and they rotate the duty. They have strong backgrounds in horticulture and gardening but they also are able to answer questions such as, "How do I get to the buffet?" or "Where can we get ice cream?"

"One of the things we strive for at Bellagio is (to make) customers No. 1," Garcia says. "We have to make sure all of our guests are receiving the 'wow' factor at any point."

Currently, the fall show is on display featuring thousands of chrysanthemums, carnations, roses and other flowers. Three hand-planted horse sculptures sit at the entrance of the conservatory. A 20-foot-tall cornucopia lends a fall touch to the display.

The centerpiece of the fall exhibit is the 35-foot-tall cider mill. It's powered by a stream and surrounded by a bed of pumpkins that weigh 300 to 1,000 pounds.

The next changeout starts Nov. 27. The holiday display will be installed featuring a giant holiday tree.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@review or 702-380-4564. Follow @StripSonya on Twitter.