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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label orchid show. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label orchid show. Show all posts

      Sunday, April 8, 2012

      up up and away

      The theme of this year's Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden is vertical gardens. Vertical gardens are all the rage these days (in case you didn't know) and Patrick Blanc, designer of the show's vertical gardens, is the green-haired enfant terrible of the vertical garden movement.

      I think vertical gardens are cool, although they're often poorly maintained and can look pretty bad pretty quickly. (I'd still like to try one of my very own.) They don't have to worry about that at the orchid show, since plants are rotated in and out of the displays the moment they are no longer perfect.

      I was at the garden today to lecture on Enticing Epiphytes. Epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) are my favorite orchids, and seeing them displayed in vertical gardens was terrific. They were paired with other epiphytes (staghorn ferns, rhipsalis, hoyas), creating great swaths of color and texture. Vertically displayed epiphytes are glorious, growing upright, just as they would in nature but with more consistent grooming.

      For those of you who haven't been to the NYBG Orchid Show, it's not too late! The show runs through 4/22.

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      the antidote to a New York City winter

      gray slush
      cancelled flights
      frozen nose hairs
      life in general

      It's the perfect time of year for an NYC garden writer to immerse herself in the saturated colors and scintillating perfumes of the tropics...especially if she's working on a new orchid book. So I thought I'd share a few blooms with you, all of which are currently lighting up my life at clients' greenhouses in the Bronx. I realize photos aren't quite as thrilling actually caressing the soft petals, breathing in the scent, and tasting the nectar (yes, I do that) of these beauties, but I hope their jewel tones offer up a much-needed contrast with the gray snow that surrounds us. And the crazy names ought to be good for a laugh.

      Brassolaeliacattleya Haadyai Delight 'Bang Prom Gold' x Blc. Krull's Lemonade

      Laeliacattleya Tropical Pointer 'Cheetah'

      Potinara Little Toshie 'Mini Flares'

      Brassocattleya Maikai 'Lea' x Cattleya Triumph #2

      Laeliacattleya Hawaiian Blue Sky 'Chelsea' Lc. Mini Purple var. coerulea

      Dendrobium Aussie Chip

      Brassolaileocattleya Orange Show 'Cloud Forest'

      Cattleya walkeriana

      Tolumnia Red Berry

      a phal/antelope type Dendrobium

      For those of you who can't escape to the beauty and calm of a private greenhouse, don't forget, the NYBG orchid show starts on March 5 and runs through April 25. Put it on your calendar.

      Friday, March 5, 2010


      photo courtesy New York Botanical Garden, John Peden photographer
      The only orchid show in the five boroughs is wowing visitors in the landmarked Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, but only until April 11. The theme of this year's show is "Cuba in Flower" designed by Cuban reared landscape architect Jorge Sanchez.
      photo courtesy NY Botanical Garden, Ivo M Vermeulen photographer.
      The show designer has planned the tour so you start with a tantalizing water view of the Castillo de la Fuerza, the oldest stone fortress in the Americas. Orchids cascade from the walls, drip into the pool, and are reflected in the water. From there you're on a path that takes you through the entire conservatory, where orchids are strategically placed among the permanent collection of tropical trees and vines. You'll can find the vanilla orchid, a native of Mexico, which is pollinated by a bee that lives only there. Vanilla orchids grown in Madagascar and elsewhere must be pollinated by hand, because the bee hasn't traveled.
      Hunt for my favorite plant in the show, Darwin's star orchid ( Angraecum sesquipedale) with its eleven inch long nectar tube. Marc Hachadourian, Curator of the show and of the NYBG orchid collection, provided this fascinating story: because the flower opened only at night, Darwin's theory of evolution was able to predict the existence of a moth pollinator whose long tongue would be able to reach inside the nectar tube to pollinate the plant. Actual photos of of this event are now available to all on Youtube.

      Stroll by more plants of
      botanical interest until
      you emerge into the
      main theater of the
      show. With Cuban royal
      palms soaring, brilliant
      flowers at every level,
      and water reflections,
      your eye flits from
      image to image.

      With about 7000 orchid
      plants on display,
      flowers are groomed
      daily. Whole plants are
      replaced as needed by
      understudies waiting
      in the wings so the show
      will always look
      Photo to the right courtesy NY Botanical Garden, Robert Benson photographer

      Remember to take your cell phone so you can dial in to the narrative, greatly enhancing your experience, or plan on attending one of the guided tours, lectures or demos scheduled.
      Every visitor has a camera or at least a cell phone and is vying for the best angle to capture the color and the drama. Hey, you just walked in front of my best shot. Well, it would have been my best shot if I had remembered to charge my back-up battery. But since I failed, NYBG came to my rescue with these memorable scenes of the show.
      As you leave walk under the palm allee draped with orchids, and breath the air mixed with sweet and spicy scents of over thousands of orchid plants.photo courtesy of New York Botanical Garden, Ivo M. Vermeulen photographer

      Tuesday, March 10, 2009

      NYBG Orchid Show

      I'm the Ellen with the orchid jones. Orchids excite and delight me and I never miss a chance to revel in their exotic beauté. If I could roll around on the floor in their soft, fragrant petals, I would. I'm pretty sure they'd frown on that at the New York Botanical Garden, where this year's Orchid Show has a new, Brazilian twist.

      The show is always an extravaganza: thousands of plants with tens of thousands of flowers displayed throughout the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, special children's activities, narrated tours of the show, classes on home orchid growing, and special lectures from international orchid experts. But this year they've upped the ante with a display designed by Raymond Jungles, in the style of his mentor, Roberto Burle Marx. The show is more modern, with bigger swaths of single colors making dramatic statements.

      Some of the details literally made me stop and smile with delight at their innovative-ness. For example, while I wasn't wild about the wall of white Phalaenopsis (yes, I know, it's the sheer NUMBER that's supposed to impress) I was delighted by the black granite bench with the built in planter filled with Epidendrum. Loved it! And I wasn't alone. People were waiting in line to have their picture taken next to the flowers (or maybe in front of the wall of white Phals, but I choose to give them more credit than that).

      I also applaud the black scaffolding clothed in epiphytic orchids. Most of the orchids we grow indoors are epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants in nature. They grow best when their roots are exposed to the air, rather than in pots. Traditionally they're shown tied onto trees or slabs of bark. There's plenty of that conventional display here, but there are also several bamboo structures (painted glossy black) with epiphytes attached to vertical, horizontal, and diagonal bars. It's a convergence of color at various angles; hard, shiny black surfaces peeking out from under alluring foliage and flowers. It's unexpected and it works.

      I wish there were more of the unusual stuff. I realize I've been to more flower shows than your average Joan, so perhaps I'm just jaded. Even when something doesn't quite hit the mark, like these tiered display boxes, I appreciate that I'm seeing something new. Why wasn't I wild about the tiered boxes? The largest box was too high for me to see well (not being 8 feet tall). It overshadowed the smaller box at eye level, leaving those plants in the dark.

      There's also some non-living art thrown in, the most impressive being an original Burle Marx mosaic in the middle of the reflecting pool, surrounded by orchids and bromeliads in complementary colors. Like most visitors to the show, however, I'm drawn to the living art.

      My favorite? THE CHANDELIER! (opening photo) It's an overhead circular display of gigantic hanging baskets packed with pendant pendents of Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium orchids. Me likee.

      Now through April 12, 2009.

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