Trekking up to St. Petersburg one night   towing an open trailer with a custom-made sled— Mike McLaughlin, Selby Gardens’ senior vice president of horticulture and facilities, and his team retrieved a baby grand piano from a stranger’s house, found through the app OfferUp. After hauling the estimated 600- 800-pound instrument across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, back to Selby, the piano was stripped of all its working parts to reduce as much of its weight as possible. After removing the cast-iron string frame, strings, hammers, legs, foot pedals and heavy cast-iron plate on the bottom, “In the end, all we were left with was the wooden box and the keyboard,” McLaughlin says. The piano was then “waterproofed” with an exterior-grade polyurethane to protect the wood for five months outdoors. Upon transporting it to the koi pond, the team transferred it into the water by placing it atop concrete blocks that were stacked at the appropriate height for viewing. Then, it was “planted” with a potted arrangement of succulents, cacti, ferns and blooming buds, teeming out of a custom hinged lid. A special prop rod was fabricated for the lid to be held open more than typical, but also secured so the wind would not rip it off.  From the swimming koi in the pond to the cascading waterfall, onlookers can now fawn over an exotic scene of tropical flora. Walking up to the Piano to Ponder exhibit the “floating” baby grand piano installment syncs the artistic world with the natural arena, paying an homage to a familiar Spanish artist’s repeated use of botanical imagery in a surreal expression of wild foliage. Pianos have been known to show up in Dalí’s work periodically, including his 1968 Flordali etching Lilium Musicum. “Our concept was to use the piano in a way that demonstrated juxtaposition, things that don’t belong together,” says McLaughlin. “We decided to use the piano as a planter—an object that has no business being in a pond. This creates the kind of surprise for the viewer that Dalí loved to illicit.” While aspiring pianists may not be able to perch on the bench to wrangle some tunes without avoiding a dampened plunge in the melodic lagoon, the baby grand garden makes for a visually stimulating crescendo—despite the absence of keyboarding sound.  Salvador Dali: Gardens of the Mind runs now through June 28, 2020, at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.