|Gateway to a world of Orchids at The New York Botanical Garden - an homage to Thailand (see elephant topiaries)|
This is where science and beauty meet head on in a full frontal assault. Wow.
Did you know that orchids are found on every continent save one? Orchids make up approximately 10 percent of all the plant species on earth; 25,000 species are known to scientists and more than 10 times that number of hybrid varieties.
I learned color is so important to the Thai culture - they LOVE color and utilize it extensively in their garden design, decorative arts -- in patterns and texture - with a kind of kaleidoscope display of diversity.
The show features a mix of native Thai orchids and hybrids: sourced from the Garden’s growers located in Florida and Hawaii, for example, in addition to what is grown at the Garden.
|Marc Hachadourian, NYBG|
I asked Marc about this year’s show upon arriving at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory's Palm of the World Gallery where elephant topiaries (elephants are the official national symbol of Thailand) and lush and luxuriant orchids captivate.
Marc explained that the Garden hadn’t produced a “geographic-themed” show in awhile -- then they got brainstorming and with Thailand acknowledged as the “epicenter” of tropical plants and horticulture, along with orchids - especially Dendrobiums and Vandas a key part of the Thai’s iconic culture along with Thailand’s connection to nature - made the decision a, ahem, natural one. “There is extreme diversity in the country’s orchids,” Marc said, underscoring how important plants are to a culture. Marc amplified the power of plants as contributors to a culture, saying “It’s no secret humans have had a long term love affair with orchids -- they are a supreme, global garden ‘flower.’”
I asked Marc what his favorite orchid is - to which he initially responded with a kind of punt, saying “whichever is in bloom at the moment.” Spoken like a true plant diplomat…
There is a suite of miniatures at the Orchid Show - and in the Garden’s permanent collection.
Entering the main part of the Orchid Show always leaves me a little breathless. There is so much of a spectacular sensation. It’s warm. It’s colorful. It’s fragrant -- and all that oxygen. Ahhhh. (Restores the giddy, breathless lightheadiness!)
First up in this other-worldly, exotic delight are the hanging gold and white fabric decorative Sky Lanterns positioned in the tree branches overhead -- in the “Thai tradition of sky lanterns (khom loi) “lit on celebratory occasions to symbolically carry away bad fortune and bring good luck,” notes NYBG.
|Sky Lantern “kissing” appropriately-named, ‘Dancing Ladies’ Oncidium and its yellow-gold color complement.|
The exhibit signage noted the full story of the symbolic lanterns.
The show’s educational signage explains how many Thai houses, businesses, and more have at least “one spirit house - (phra phum) and in cities such as Bangkok - they are probably on rooftops. Like our gardens in urban areas.
I think we all need these spirit houses. Christian joked the spirits can’t fly; and pointed out the ladder… The Spirit Houses are decorated with protective dragon spirits.
In a mirror exhibit, the Garden also showcases the Daily Offering Spirit House - demonstrating how the Thai people’s offerings of flowers, fruit, incense -- and strawberry soda (really?!) keep the spirits in a good mood and ensure good fortune.
I was intrigued with the small Mai Dat - a tribute to the tradition of clipping trees and shrubs into a variety of shapes - a kind of topiary that dates from the 13th century and not unlike a kind of bonsai except that mai dat is meant to be “abstract and fanciful.”
The Sala featured a temple-like hardscape structure studded with boatloads of phalaenopsis orchids -- on a topiary elephant “saddle” and on moss balls, along with those glorious Vandas - with their epiphyte kind of necklaces hanging below. Those epiphyte roots help absorb moisture and catch falling detritus, explained Christian.
The Sala should be viewed also for the plant compositions created by NYBG curators. Please notice the elegant slipper orchids: paphiopedilum, ‘Silver Dollar’ Maidenhair ferns, and gorgeous rocks, placed ever so stylishly.
|I dare you to stop looking!|
Saturdays: March 4, 11, 18, and 25; April 1 and 8
Fridays: March 31 (LGBT Night) and April 7
6:30–9:30 p.m. (entry times at 6:30, 7, and 7:30 p.m.)
Stroll through The Orchid Show: Thailand in the lush Conservatory, while music, dance, and unmatched beauty create one of New York City’s most unique and spectacular evening outings. On April 1 and 8, visitors can also upgrade their experience with the Young Garden Circle Lounge for skip-the-line access; free parking; a private open bar featuring beer, wine, and specialty cocktails; complimentary light bites; and a live DJ making for an unforgettable night. Advance tickets recommended. Cash bar available.
Vanilla: The Sacred Orchid
Saturday, February 18 and Sunday, February 19; 1, 1:30, and 2 p.m.
In Ross Hall
Learn the intriguing life process—from flower to pantry—of a favorite flavor. This scenic film examines the full-year cycle of this spice from Veracruz, Mexico. The vanilla orchid is still cultivated by the same indigenous people who have been growing it for centuries. The film is directed by Curtis Craven and runs 26 minutes.
Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26; 2 p.m.
In Ross Hall
In this popular 2002 feature film inspired by Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief, Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman, a lovelorn L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, self- loathing, and the screenwriting ambitions of his freeloading twin brother, Donald (also Cage). While struggling to adapt The Orchid Thief by Orlean (Meryl Streep), Kaufman’s life spins from pathetic to bizarre. The lives of Kaufman, Orlean, and John Laroche (Chris Cooper), the orchid poacher and subject of the book, become strangely intertwined as each one’s obsession collides with those of the others. (114 minutes, Rated R)
Magical Thailand—A Journey with the Somapa Thai Dance Company
Saturdays and Sundays, March 4–April 9
Performances at 1 and 3 p.m.
In Ross Hall, or seasonally in Conservatory Plaza
The Somapa Thai Dance Company takes you on a journey to experience beautiful and magical Thailand. The Washington, D.C.-based dance company introduces audiences to Thai performing arts and culture with graceful classical and folk dances from various parts of Thailand.
The Orchid Show Tours
Tuesdays–Fridays; 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
Meet at the Conservatory Entrance
Tour The Orchid Show with an expert guide. Get a brief introduction to the biology of orchids to learn what makes them so different from other flowers, and learn about some of the current research projects that our scientists are working on.
Saturdays and Sundays; 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
In the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
Garden guides highlight parts of the permanent collection and special exhibition to add insight to your experience of The Orchid Show. They will provide an in-depth look at rare and extraordinary orchid specimens on display.
Orchid Care Demonstrations
Saturdays and Sundays; 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.
In the Conservatory GreenSchool
Join NYBG experts as they discuss the basics of orchid care and how to choose and successfully grow these exotic plants.
Orchid Expert Q&A
Saturdays and Sundays; 1:30–4:30 p.m.
In NYBG Shop
Drop in and ask about orchid care tips. Get help selecting the proper orchid for your home.
Also During The Orchid Show
Thousands of top-quality orchids, from exotic, hard-to-find specimens for connoisseurs to elegant yet easy-to-grow varieties for beginners, are available for purchase at NYBG Shop, along with orchid products and books. During The Orchid Show, visitors can enjoy a selection of dining options at the Hudson Garden Grill, NYBG’s full-service restaurant, which will have Thai-inspired offerings, and at the Pine Tree Cafe.