Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis
The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, New York 10458
THE ORCHID SHOW
For the 16th year in a row, the stately domed palatial glass building, known as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden, has been transformed into a lush tropical forest, resplendent with orchids of unbelievable diversity in every size, shape, and color imaginable. This show is eagerly anticipated by orchid lovers the world over and thousands will visit when the doors opened this year on Saturday, March 3 through Sunday, April 22.
Orchid lovers range from appreciative oh’ and ah’ viewers such as I am, to dedicated knowledgeable aficionados who can distinguish each species - well perhaps not all 30,000 naturally occurring species, but a goodly number - can cite the Latin as well as the common name, and tell which are naturally terrestrial (growing on the ground), epiphytic (growing in the air using a tree for support), or lithophytic (growing on rocks). I grew up erroneously thinking of orchids as delicate, exotic, rare blossoms that added elegance and beauty to special occasions, but in truth they are hearty plants that grow wild on surfaces of opportunity. Orchids represent the largest family of flowering plants; they are adaptable, diverse, and grow in almost every habitat, from semi-desert to Arctic tundra. Orchids grow on every continent except Antarctica and range in size from miniatures with tiny flowers of less than 1/16 of an inch to giants more than 25 feet tall with flower spikes up to 10 feet long. The variety of colors and shapes is awesome and in the Conservatory I spied pink, purple, white, peach, burgundy, russet, yellow, orange, multi-hued, and amazingly, even blue. Perhaps they are so very cherished worldwide for their beauty, variety and abundance.
This year’s show was conceived and designed by one of the world’s leading floral designers or bloembinders - the Dutch term for an artist who works with flowers - as Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost, identifies his craft. Renowned for large scale artworks, Ost has tailored The New York Botanical Garden display to showcase the architecture of the unique Victorian-style building. Ost received his training in floral design in Belgium and became enamored of Ikebana floral artistry while on a visit to Japan. His association with Ikebana master Noboru Kurisak took him to new heights, so much so that in Belgium he is known as “the Picasso of floral arranging”.
Entering into the show is a breath-stopping experience. Overwhelming the viewer is a dazzling living sculpture bedecked in fragrant blossoms rising over the permanent pool installation and resting in a bed of tropical ferns and floral plantings of Kalanchoe, Vriesea, Phormium, Croton, Dracaena, and many more. The sculpture is entwined by clear plastic tubing from which all manner of blossoms hang in an astounding variety of color, shape, size and beauty, seemingly reaching towards the overhead 90 foot high glass dome. The sun flowing in through the glass highlights the scene below and seems to beckon to the sculpture encouraging it to grow upwards. Once you catch your breath and remember to take pictures, you can proceed along the path and you will enter into another world, one where abundant vegetation and warmth overwhelm. From the floor, the ceilings, and surrounding you, are orchids of every description.
In addition to the initial sculpture, Ost has constructed a bamboo frame from which he hangs an astonishing display of plants and orchids cramming into a relatively narrow space an abundance of riches. You have left New York far behind as you immerse yourself in this verdant forest, free to explore without pesky insects, but sadly missing the sounds of birds and the fellowship of butterflies. It's a must see show if you have an affection for nature's cornucopia of delights.
Demonstrations and lectures are offered to educate the public and of course the gift shop has many rare as well as common varieties of plants and orchids for sale. There are many programs, classes and entertainments set up in the coming weeks to educate and delight the orchid lover and for a complete listing visit https://www.nybg.org/event/the-orchid-show/
The Botanical Garden is only 20 minutes by car from Manhattan with ample parking facilities but even better if you want to avoid the drive, catch the Metro-North Harlem local line from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan to the Botanical Garden Station. A short walk across Southern Boulevard and you will arrive at the Garden’s Mosholu Entrance. The New York Botanical Garden is a proud participant in Metro-North’s New York City Getaway Program. This package includes All-Garden Pass tickets and a welcome packet with special offers at NYBG Shop and the Pine Tree Cafe. http://web.mta.info/mnr/html/getaways/inbound_botanicalgarden.htm Additionally on weekends you can save 50% off peak fare with City Ticket. http://web.mta.info/mta/cityticket.htm
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