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

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


Shady Gardener said...

What a wonderful experience!!

I, on the other hand, am thrilled that I have an orchid that has grown a completely new "arm" loaded with buds!! Wow! :-) Have a great weekend.

lfin said...

Spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

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