Business makes landscapes for taxidermy |

Business makes landscapes for taxidermy

Northern Nevada Business Weekly

RENO – A Reno company that’s best known for its displays of artificial and live plants for casinos, restaurants and offices is expanding quickly into a new niche – providing materials for the landscapes that surround the work of taxidermists.

After working with individual taxidermists to ensure that the artificial plants in their landscapes are horticulturally accurate and attractive, Plantworks LLC now is developing pre-packed sets of landscape materials – desert plants, for instance – for use in displays.

Shirley Hart, co-owner of Plantworks Reno with her brother, John Barnhart, says the niche already has developed into an important revenue stream for the company.

It picked up steam, however, by happenstance.

Kyle Meintzer, a Reno financial planner who’s an active leader in several hunter and conservation groups, hired Plantworks to design the plants – including those that set the scene for mounted trophies – in his home.

“Shirley did a great job listening and understanding what we wanted to do,” he says. “She did an incredible job.”

He liked Hart’s work enough that he arranged for the firm to provide artificial plants for this winter’s convention of the Wild Sheep Foundation in Reno.

And while Hart was at the convention, she learned from the taxidermists who displayed their work that they didn’t have a knowledgeable source for the artificial plants they use in the dioramas that are settings for their work.

“They really didn’t know what they needed,” Hart says.

And some taxidermists have been using natural plant materials – dried grasses, for instance, or moss – with mixed results.

“There’s no way to clean them, and they deteriorate over time,” Hart says.

To ensure that the artificial plants she provides to taxidermists are accurate, Hart pores through reference books, learning about the plants that are native to an animal’s habitat. Then, she pores through the bulky catalogs of suppliers of artificial plants to find exactly what she needs.

She’s got enough background now to begin assembling kits that are specifically oriented toward an individual species or an individual type of habitat.

Plantworks markets to the multitude of far-flung mostly small professional taxidermy shops through its Web site and through an increasing presence at shows of wildlife conservation organizations.