The 13th Annual Orchid Show-a Magnificent Herald of Spring at the NYBG

A centerpiece of orchids at the introduction of the NYBG Orchid Show. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

A centerpiece of orchids at the introduction of the NYBG Orchid Show. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

March 5th, a plane at LaGuardia skidded off the icy, snowy runway. A wet, unwelcome, sterile, white dirge blanketed the area. Who knows how many more intermittent days of abysmal cold, sleet, snow, and ice will oppress? Though there seems no end to this weariness, there is a herald of spring at the New York Botanical Gardens.

It is the 13th Annual Orchid Show. A renaissance of beauty and hope hangs high in the orchid baskets’ blazing, airy, living, colorful auras. These amazing and most popular of flowering plants shine their blossoms and illuminate their colors upward toward the palatial ceiling of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

How welcome to me are these stunning, brilliantly conceived and executed flowery clusters. They are truly a spiritual and emotional uplift to take me to the end of the long, blistering winter to sing in the sweetness of springtime.

13th Annual NYBG Orchid Show. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

13th Annual NYBG Orchid Show. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Dazzling chandeliers of orchid color at the NYBG Orchid Show. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Dazzling chandeliers of orchid color at the NYBG Orchid Show. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The theme of the show this year couldn’t be more appropriate or illuminating; it is “Chandeliers.” Everywhere you saunter through the delicate looking Victorian-style glasshouse, you see the mysterious, sensual, ripe, and fecund vividness of arcing orchids curving out like delicate feathers. There are thousands of them.

Pendant, striking orchids at the Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Pendant, striking orchids at the Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Different varieties of orchids create a lacy effect. The Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Different varieties of orchids create a lacy effect. The Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Pools of water reflect their petals in a kaleidoscope of pastels, tints, shades, and darkest hues. Not only are the Cymbidium and Cycnoches landscaped exquisitely amongst the flora of the greens, reds, yellows of the ferns, palms, dracenas, and other botanical varieties that flourish in abundance in the warmth and moisture of the conservatory. But the adder-tongued (Theodore Roethke’s description), blooming plants are the stellar creations, the showpieces above the pathways in pendant, lustrous, rainbow baskets.

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13th Annual Orchid Show: Chandeliers at the NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Pansy orchids beckon on the pathway into the conservatory depths at The Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Pansy orchids beckon on the pathway into the conservatory depths at The Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Their powerful, subtle beauty is the  growing candelabra that lights the way. The orchid chandeliers are a vibrant multi-layered overflow of pinks, violets, whites, tawny oranges, yellows, purples, reds. It is enough to mesmerize and gladden the most sorrowful and dour of hearts. Look up, twirl around, everywhere are Cattleyas and Phalaenopsis of a multitude of varieties and a range of colors that poor crayola only wishes they could duplicate.

For the first time, the concept “Chandeliers” throngs the crystal palace Conservatory, slipping beyond the Seasonal Exhibition Galleries into the Tropical Rain Forest Galleries and others.The exhibit is conceptualized and designed by the Botanical Garden’s Francisca Coelho, the Vivian and Edward Merrin Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions, who is noted as “the best female head gardener working under glass today.”

The next time I visit the show, I will try to purchase a pansy orchid at the Garden Shop. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The next time I visit the show, I will try to purchase a pansy orchid at the Garden Shop. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

But as in other past orchid shows, the amazing history and conservation stories of rare and endangered orchids in the rain forests of the world are included and can be read on the cards throughout the exhibit or listened to on one’s mobile phone.

Throughout the Garden’s 250 acres in its various venues, The Orchid Show: Chandeliers allows guests the opportunity to learn about the largest family of flowering plants through tours, orchid care demonstrations, and discussions about how the elegant flower chandeliers were made.

There are over 150,000 man-made orchid hybrids. The Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

There are over 150,000 man-made orchid hybrids. The Orchid Show: Chandeliers, NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The arrangement at The 13th Annual Orchid Show at NYBG are breathtaking. PHoto by Carole Di Tosti

The arrangement at The 13th Annual Orchid Show at NYBG are breathtaking. PHoto by Carole Di Tosti

The snow is still falling into the evening. I didn’t buy any orchids when I visited the beloved NYBG shop because I was afraid they would get a chill and “catch their deaths.” It was below freezing and the wind crinkled my face walking to the Enid A Haupt Conservatory. However, the moment the light brightens, the sun is higher overhead and it’s closer to spring, I will return to buy a piquant, fuschia pansy orchid if there are any left. Or I might go for a glass of wine during one of the Orchid Evenings and stop at the shop on my way out. I’ll check to see if there’s an unusual Cattleya for sale. After all, the show runs until April 19, 2015. By then Spring will have adorned us with her presence and my newly bought orchids will remain out of reach of cold cruelty as winter marches toward Peru.

The 13th Annual Orchid Show (Chandeliers) is at The New York Botanical Gardens until April 19, 2015. Click here for tickets.

This feature article first appeared on Blogcritics. Click here.

Posted on March 7, 2015, in Around the Region and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. These orchids are so beautiful!! I’m stunned. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! I’ve heard Martha Stewart talk about this event on her radio show, but seeing it here is amazing. I have a few orchids and they always perform nicely for me, leaving me with long-lived blooms.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Renee. My orchids could be doing better. I don’t have enough filtered light. But I do love them. I think Marc Hachadourian the orchid curator at the NYBG must be one of the best at keeping a huge personal collection at home.

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