Jeff Carey says every plant has a story. He knows just about every one of them, at the Erie Zoo.

He oversees an small but mighty group, as head horticulturist.

"We do everything from maintaining the plants to building boardwalks and repairing pavers and installing pavers and Zoo Boo decoration," said Jeff.  

Jeff helped build this greenhouse, which is open to the public. It's a donation by the Daubenspeck family, and located up the boardwalk near the chicken coop.

Inside, zoo visitors can enjoy topical plants including ones from around the world, like the Orange Tree from England.

Donation are important, the Christmas Cactus was donated by a woman moving into a care facility.

"We got to talking, she said it belonged to her great grandmother and it was probably from the 1880s," said Jeff. 

There is a second greenhouse that is not open to the public. 

From small plants to massive ones, all the 100 or so plants inside this greenhouse will head out into the zoo grounds within the next few weeks. Some will be used to beautify the grounds while others will go into exhibits.

They are put in areas all over the zoo grounds, adding to the flowers already in bloom near exhibits by the zoo's entrance off West 38th Street. 

As you come into the popular attraction, there's even a succulent garden inside the zoo's main building.

Truly a community gem. 

"Of course you come to see the animals but the gardens are incredible," said Emily Smicker. 

Emily Smicker, the Erie Zoo's Marketing & Events Coordinator says there's thousands of plant species from around the globe. Things you wouldn't be able to see unless you traveled.

That's exactly what Jeff has done. 

"I travel around the country and just see things that make sense for here, and bring things back," said Jeff. 

Anyone can become a donor at the zoo and support the creation of the garden or help contribute to the gardens already there.

A list of the 10 gardens can be found on the Erie Zoo's website