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

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.


Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" said...

What beautiful plants! Thanks for the photo tour of another garden show I missed this year.
I hope to meet Ellen (Zachos) in SF this week. I'll be there on Wednesday and will be looking you up!
Shirley Bovshow

Ellen Zachos said...

I'll look for you, too, Shirley. I always come home from the San Francisco show with a suitcase full of orchids...they have some great vendors there!

Anonymous said...

Today I attended the orchid show . It was amazing, there were such beautiful flowers.


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