Garden Diary - February 2020

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image courtesy The New York Botanical Garden

Orchid Show at The New York Botanical Garden

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The 18th interation of the orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden will open to the public next Saturday, 15 February. Today there's a media preview to help get the word out. I'm up early and on the road by 8:10 a.m. for the 86-mile, typically just under two hour drive. It was not to be, today. The ride in was awful, tedious, bumper to bumper, eventually reaching the New York Botanical Garden and the orchid show almost three hours later. I was quite late for the start of the media event. My sister-in-law had waited outside the conservatory for me, asked if I wanted, then got me a coffee (decaf, the high test was all gone) and recommended the vegetarian sliders as opposed to the spicy chicken (the media is treated quite nicely.) I averted my gaze from the enchanting sweet treats.

This orchid show is different in many ways from those I've attended before. We cannot enter through the dome which houses the Palms of the World as both the dome and adjacent galleries have been under renovation since last year, not to be completed until spring. There are other galleries with permanent installations and this show makes use of them all,

taking visitors through and around and on a grand tour, with orchids everywhere on display.

image courtesy The New York Botanical Garden
To begin with - as soon as we entered there is a fantasy of orchids and falling water,

image courtesy The New York Botanical Garden
mirrored, kaleidoscopic, with fragmented reflections of the orchids that surround it,

the water spilling into a pool with orchid flowers rocking serenely on the dark water.

We hear voices, explaining about the show, this year's designer, the orchids. We're scooting through the various galleries trying to catch up to the show's designer, the orchid curator, the people from the public relations department, and the media scrum. Mission achieved.

image courtesy The New York Botanical Garden
Jeff Leatham, the show's designer. Recognized for his designs for hotels and casinos
both domestically and abroad, for notable individuals, and work with fashion brands.
Turns out that in 2017, in Holland, a purple vanda orchid was named for Jeff Leatham.

An elegant feature of the exhibition is that in each of the galleries the orchids are grouped
by color. Here, chartreuse, ivory, and white orchids are displayed in this connecting pavillion.

Ahead is the desert pavillion and no, orchids were not added to this arid display. But

as we walk down the steps to the connecting tunnel there are pink phalanopsis orchids,
Spanish moss, and succulents dripping down from the rims of the plain concrete walls.

The tunnel itself, with corrugated sheet metal walls, is positively psychedelic.
The lighting strips along the floor cast rainbows of light that ripple and change.

There is a jungle at the tunnel's far end, stone walls dripping with plants and waterfalls.

Stumps, with orchids and ferns pleasantly displayed in a naturalistic, woodland manner.

I am enchanted with this miniature phalanopsis, 'Frosty Angel' and hope to find one.

Onward to yet another gallery. I recognize this space. The pool is a permanent feature.
But where is the fountain . . . and look at arch after arch of orange, peachy, rosy hued orchids.

The fountain is still here, I am relieved to learn, concealed
with a mossy wrap and crowned with greenery.

The pool, its water still and dark, completes, with its reflections, the circles of orchids.

Near the tunnel is an arch of hot orange dendrobium orchids.
Dangling roots remind me of Rapunzel letting down her hair.

And here is Marc Hachadorian, senior curator of orchids and director of
glasshouse cultivation, holding a copy of Orchid Modern his recent book.

Continue through the white doors at the far end (beyond the pool) to yet another pavillion where there's a winding set of open metal stairs to follow up, up to a platform that lets you peer down at the jungle-like layers of plants.

And orchids. Artfully embellished with color coordinated bamboo canes.
By now, you should be expecting this attention to detail.

Eventually orchid-ed out (is that a word?) and off to the Pine Tree Cafe for coffee (I had a latte, sis-in-law had a flat white) and talked and talked. Then across the piazza to the shop, where I bought a tiny fern and some sheet moss for my kokedama-to-be. But that will be another entry.

So if the idea of thousands of orchids on dramatic display appeals to you, plan on a visit to The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY. Easily reached by Metro-North, with a stop just across from NYBG or by car, NYBG is open Tuesday through Sunday. There are some special evening events also. The Orchid Show is on view February 15 through April 19, 2020.

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