New York Botanical Garden, ‘The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage’

The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage at NYBG on view February 18-April 23 (Carole Di Tosti)
Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage at NYBG on view February 18-April 23 (Carole Di Tosti)
Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage at NYBG on view February 18-April 23 (Carole Di Tosti)
Interior showcase gallery at NYBG Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a detail of The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Now in its 20th year and back in full swing after the COVID 19 pandemic, NYBG is bringing an exceptional presentation for this year’s Orchid Show entitled The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage.

Lily Kwong designer of this year’s The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage, NYBG press day (Carole Di Tosti)

For the 20th annual orchid extravaganza, landscape Artist Lily Kwong exhibits her immersive and dynamic designs. Throughout the exhibit Lily Kwong highlights her Chinese heritage by exploring the physical and psychic healing power of orchids. The exhibit is running from February 18 through April 23, 2023 in the NYBG Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Lily Kwong discusses her design inspirations for The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage at NYBG Press Day (Carole Di Tosti)
NYBG Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a vast variety of orchids at The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Color coordinated exhibit displays, NYBG Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
NYBG Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a red feature of The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Guest designer Kwong is featuring beguiling installations of thousands of orchids in the hope of recapturing our ancestral veneration of the land which previous generations often worked to produce food, environmental beauty and health. Lily Kwong’s designs touch the imagination and spirit with ethereal, peaceful landscapes inspired by ancient Chinese garden design and artistic principles and philosophical perspectives.

Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool upside down, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Understanding the diversity, adaptability and global cultural significance of orchids, Ms. Kwong was inspired to fashion spaces throughout the Garden based on classic paintings of Chinese mountainscapes. The Palms of the World and Reflecting Pool Gallery in the main entrance of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and the showcase theater gallery in the interior of the conservatory feature such mountainscapes festooned with orchids and other plantings.

Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Orchid mountain, interior showcase NYBG Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

The paintings that influenced Lily Kwong were passed down through her family from Shanghai. The effects created with stones, water features and companion plantings throughout the conservatory display all the variety of orchids imaginable including iconic and popular moth orchids as well as rare specimens.

Stones and water features, NYBG Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

The mountainscape designs meld ecology, culture, myth and spiritual solace that was present in Kwong’s heritage. The orchids also are representative in Chinese medicinal traditions and are used extensively for herbal teas and remedies. Kwong’s belief and interpretations of nature in the designs reinforce nature’s healing powers and encourage visitors to understand how the natural environment is crucial to our well being and soul’s equilibrium.

Orchid views of the interior theatrical showcase in the Conservatory, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage Press Day. Background remarks are by Marc Hachadorian (NYBG Senior Orchid Curator) and Lily Kwong landscape artist. (courtesy,Carole Di Tosti)

Kwong collaborated with NYBG horticulturalists and Exhibitions staff to identify and assemble a gorgeous selection of orchids that are native to Asian countries. The displays are visually dramatic and striking. Also, they are emotionally evocative, inspiring visitors toward inner reflection and serenity in a remembrance that nature’s rhythms and harmonies impact our own survival on this planet.

Phalaenopsis hybrids, onicidiums (they have a fragrance) NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Kwong is the first woman of color to take on the role of NYBG guest designer of the Orchid Show. She felt an urgency to “celebrate an Asian-centered perspective in the midst of this charged and precarious moment.” Her intention with the entire exhibit is to “offer a bridge of cultural understanding across the valley between us, and act as an invitation to celebrate the diverse lineages that make up our country.”

Corsage orchidS, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Kwong’s vision for the exhibit dovetails with the NYBG’s mission. Jennifer Bernstein, Chief Executive Officer and The William C. Steere Sr. President of The New York Botanical Garden stated, “One of our major goals here at this beloved green space in the Bronx is to inspire visitors and learners of all ages to appreciate, respect and care for nature.”

Showcase gallery, orchids, mountain landscapes, waterfall NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage Press Day (Carole Di Tosti)

It is no surprise that the annual Orchid Show is one of the most popular of exhibits at the Garden. Jennifer Bernstein highlighted that the orchid exhibition provides an opportunity to feature the most diverse and celebrated of “our unparalleled living plant collections” so that the Garden may “educate the public about NYBG’s plant research and conservation work.”

Cymbidiums used for herbal remedies, teas and other medicinal uses in Chinese medicine, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

To be able to share the love of orchids and plants with Kwong (she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University’s Urban Studies program and participated in the Landscape Design program at NYBG-2017) in a collaboration which enhances the Garden’s mission was a pleasure for all who worked on the exhibit.

Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Vandas (popularly known as rainbow orchids) NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Vandas (popularly known as rainbow orchids) in close-up NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Phalaenopsis hybrids, walkway gallery in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

This was especially so for Kwong, a Los Angeles-based artist who employs her varied talents and knowledge of horticulture, urban design, contemporary art, climate awareness, urban agriculture and wellness to reconnect people with nature through transformative landscape projects and site-specific botanical art installations.

Lily Kwong discussing how her heritage influenced her designs of NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Kwong’s career is particularly well placed for her goal to reconnect people with nature through her artfully designed botanical theater. She has been part of numerous public art initiatives since she began in 2017. These include botanical installations at The Highline, New York; Faena Arts, Miami; Grand Central Terminal, New York; Taipei Night Market, Taiwan; Bal Harbor Shops, Florida to name a few.

Rainforest gallery, dendrobium orchids used in Chinese medicine for age related diseases, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Paphiopedilum (lady slipper orchids) NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

As a result accolades have come her way: ARCHMARATHON & Dezeen Awards in 2020 for Glossier Seattle and the World Spa Awards for Shou Sugi Ban House in East Hampton, New York. Kwong was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 (Art & Style) list in 2018. She has been selected to speak at MOCA, The Aspen Ideas Festival, The World Youth Forum, Design Miami and NeueHouse.

Dendrobriums, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

When you are sauntering through the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory enjoying Kwong’s fabulous designs, also meditate on the importance of this incredible gift to New Yorkers that the Garden brings as a special haven and sanctuary to decompress and relax into nature’s wonders through every season. The Garden comprises a 250-acre landscape which includes a 50-acre, old-growth forest through which the Bronx River and waterfall meanders. It is breathtaking year-round.

Corsage orchids in close-up, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

And don’t forget to visit the Garden library at the far entrance, the most important botanical and horticultural library in the world. The LuEsther T. Mertz Library houses 11 million archival items spanning ten centuries and forming a historical record of plant species and extinction.

Marc Hachadourian (Senior Orchid Curator at NYBG) discussing the rare orchids in the glass case, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Most importantly, know that the Garden is dedicated to conservation as well as research. It and takes in and restores plants which have been pirated as rare and exotic species for sale, sometimes worth thousands of dollars. The William and Lynda Steere Herbarium (the largest in the Western Hemisphere with 7.8 million plant and fungal specimens), is home to scientists. These work on-site in various cutting-edge molecular labs and in areas worldwide where biodiversity is most at risk.

Orchid mountain, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)
Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (Carole Di Tosti)

Reminders! On select evenings during The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage, adults 21 and over can enjoy the exhibition’s “Orchid Nights,” with music cash bars and food available for purchase. To learn more about The Orchid Show go to the NYBG website for tickets and other information about NYBG. https://www.nybg.org/

About caroleditosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is an Entertainment Journalist, novelist, poet and playwright. Writing is my life. When I don't write I am desolate. Carole Di Tosti has over 1800 articles, reviews, sonnets and other online writings. Carole Di Tosti writes for Blogcritics.com, Theater Pizzazz and other New York theater websites. Carole Di Tost free-lanced for VERVE and wrote for Technorati for 2 years. Some of the articles are archived. Carole Di Tosti covers premiere film festivals in the NY area:: Tribeca FF, NYFF, DOC NYC, Hamptons IFF, NYJewish FF, Athena FF. She also covers SXSW film. Carole Di Tosti's novel 'Peregrine: The Ceremony of Power,' is being released in November-December. Her two-act plays 'Edgar,' 'The Painter on His Way to Work,' and 'Pandemics' in the process of being submitted for representation and production.

Posted on February 18, 2023, in New York Botanical Garden, NYBG EXHIBITS, orchids and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. What a delightful resource u have available

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: