Alien Dream Worlds

Meow Wolf’s first earthly installation surrounding the Plethodon embodies change, courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens.

Denver Botanic Garden’s Assistant Curator Kevin Williams standing outside of Convergence Station in the garden next to the Plethodon.
Denver Botanic Garden’s Assistant Curator Kevin Williams with the Plethodon

Change is central to the story of the Plethodon, the pastel-hued, salamander-like creature created for Meow Wolf by Demiurge, LLC that emerges beyond the walls of Denver’s Convergence Station. So it’s only fitting that its environment would experience a transformation of its own, courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens and their Horticulture Outreach Program. Greeting guests before they enter the doors of Meow Wolf’s Denver exhibition, the Plethodon and its soon-to-be-flourishing garden will remind travelers that change is unavoidable and, if embraced, can create luminous and wonderful things that are both beautiful and unrecognizable.

“The plants of Convergence Station's first earth-based installation, entitled ‘Alien Dream Worlds,’ will change, flux, and surprise guests in different ways throughout the seasons and the coming years,” according to Denver Botanic Gardens' Assistant Curator Kevin Williams, the lead on this project. “Some species will continue to grow and build stature, while others will appear and disappear, seeding and traveling throughout the garden.”

People planting in garden outside of Convergence Station next to the Plethodon

For this project, Williams dug deep into Convergence Station’s narrative as well as the Denver Botanic Garden’s mission.

According to the Plethodon origin story, this creature burrowed into the ground one hundred million years ago as the Rocky Mountains were forming, intending only to reemerge once change had stopped coming to the world around it. That day never came, and the Plethodon was itself changed by the heat and pressure of the Earth. When four alien worlds converged together, creating Convergence Station, it forever changed the bustling metropolis around it. The Plethodon was unearthed, emerging unrecognizable.

Converged lore, according to Williams, is something both Convergence Station and the Gardens have in common. One of the Gardens’ core collections, the Steppe Collection, embraces the idea of sister climates. Colorado is part of the steppe bioregion known for flat, dry grasslands and shrublands. Our sister steppe bioregions around the world can be found in places like Central Asia, Southern Africa, and Patagonian Argentina. Representatives from the Gardens travel all over the world to develop partnerships with scientists and gardeners in these sister communities. Exotic, but similar, these worldly plants will be represented at Convergence Station. This was one of the many reasons Meow Wolf asked the Gardens to collaborate.

Plethodon in garden outside of Convergence Station on a sunny day

So, what’s it going to look like? Williams chose plants that might challenge their viewers’ expectations, like versions of well-known plants that are larger, smaller, or differently hued. He turned to plants that echo the Plethodon’s design; species that will embrace the archlike and explosive, upright forms, the beautiful blues, the iridescent glimmer, geometric patterns, and the harsh metallic hues of the Plethodon. Williams favored plants that won’t require a lot of water. He even used the design of Glowy — Numina’s nymphlike creature with a cascading waterfall of lasers — to create the garden’s footpath.

Williams installed the first plants on June 1st, 2022. Both Meow Wolf and Denver Botanic Gardens are eager to watch the garden grow and transform over the summer and beyond!