Blog Archives

New York Botanical Garden is Reopening The Outdoor Gardens and Collections to the General Public July 28

NYBG, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

Today, The New York Botanical Garden announced its schedule to reopen the outdoor gardens and collections of its 250-acre site to the general public on Tuesday, 28 July. The process has been a gradual one as New York City achieves New York Forward’s Phase Four which is projected to begin 20 July. The Garden’s reopening plan is mindful of protocols that pertain to businesses and cultural institutions. It follows CDC guidelines regarding protecting visitors from COVID-19 transmission. The Garden’s protocols involve safety measures that encompass State and City requirements and OSHA requirements.

NYBG, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Sunflower, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

As a part of Appreciation Week July 21-26 the New York Botanical Garden is welcoming Garden Members and Bronx Healthcare Heroes from the eight public and private hospitals in the borough. Also included are Bronx Neighbors with “first access” and complimentary tickets for free admission. This reopening including “Appreciation Week” is contingent upon Governor Cuomo designating New York City as fulfilling the requirements for the Phase Four opening.

NYBG, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

All visitors, including Members, must purchase or reserve timed-entry tickets in advance. All visitors must be wearing masks.

APPRECIATION WEEK REOPENING is from July 21, Tuesday – July 26, Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.  GET TICKETS BY CLICKING HERE

Perennial Garden, NYBG, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Perennial Garden, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

Through its Appreciation Week initiative, the Garden acknowledges its gratitude and recognizes the dedication, strength, and resilience of Bronx frontline health care workers and residents. These are the workers that residents remember daily around 7:00 pm with cheers, shouts and a clamor of pots and pans for their great sacrifice to help patients through the terrible journey of overcoming this virus which is still not understood. Complimentary admission for those groups will continue through September 13.

Seasonal Walk, NYBG, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Seasonal Walk, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

New Yorkers will be coming from all the boroughs to seek respite and renewal at NYBG. They have gone through a hellacious time (characterized by Governor Cuomo) these past months sacrificing under quarantine. Together, all New Yorkers were united, disciplined, smart, tough and loving as they confronted an unprecedented crises in their lifetimes and brought the highest COVID infection rate in the world to one of the lowest in the nation.

Home Gardening Center, NYBG,New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Home Gardening Center, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

The Garden is the place to be in July. It is one of the most gorgeous, historic and extensive botanical gardens in the world. Not only is it an urban oasis, it is a cultural, living artifact which has become a moral imperative, a haven for every season, and a New York City treasure anchored in the Bronx. Currently the Garden landscape features vibrant daylilies, hydrangeas, water lilies, and lotuses among its one million plants. Walking paths and trails crisscross the Garden providing opportunities for discovery through encounters with nature.

Thain Family Forest, NYBG, NYBG,New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Thain Family Forest, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

FOR YOUR SAFETY

The Garden has a TIMED ENTRY.  FACE COVERINGS ARE REQUIRED.  There is SOCIAL DISTANCING.

There is CONTINUAL CLEANING AND DISINFECTINGThere are DAILY STAFF HEALTH CHECKS.

Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, NYBG, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week

New York Botanical Garden, Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

Know Before You Go

  • Reduced Garden capacity and amenities. For the safety of visitors and staff, NYBG closed indoor spaces and any collections where social distancing is not possible. Water fountains and bottle refill stations are deactivated. Please bring your own water, or purchase water at the Pine Tree Café.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices. Garden staff are sanitizing surfaces such as tables, handrails, and door handles regularly.
  • Sanitization stations. Hand sanitizer has been placed throughout the Garden. All visitors and staff must practice proper hand washing procedures.
  • 250 acres to explore. Enjoy seasonal highlights in the Chilton Azalea Garden, Native Plant Garden, Perennial Garden, Conservatory Courtyards, Rockefeller Rose Garden, and most other outdoor collections and trails. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoe
Lotus and Water Lilies, NYBG, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week, Public Opening 28 July

New York Botanical Garden, Water Lilies and Lotus, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

  • Grab-and-go food service only. Limited food and refreshments are offered for carry-out at the Pine Tree Café. Outdoor seating is available.
  • NYBG Shop is open. The Garden has adjusted shopping and checkout processes to provide the safest possible experience.
  • Mobility considerations. Wheelchair loans and the Tram Tour are suspended. If you require a mobility device, we ask that you bring your own.
 NYBG, Water Lilies and Lotus Pond, New York Forward Phase Four, Governor Cuomo, Appreciation Week, Public Opening 28 July

New York Botanical Garden, Water Lilies and Lotus Pond, Reopening New York Forward Phase Four (NYGB)

An inherent risk of exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19) exists in any public space where people are present. People visiting The New York Botanical Garden do so at their own risk as to such exposure as well as other risks inherent to outdoor public spaces. We will continue to monitor state and city guidelines to inform the Garden’s operations.

For more information about the NYBG and the 28th JULY PUBLIC OPENING, CLICK HERE.

 

New York Botanical Garden ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ A Shimmering Display of Vibrant Color

The 17th Annual Orchid Show, The Orchid Show: Singapore, NYBG, #plantlove, #orchidshownybg

Vandas at the NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore’ (Carole Di Tosti)

The doldrums of winter signify their passing with the arrival of the annual NYBG Orchid Show, whose splendid displays of orchids bring their cheer, and lift our spirits. For this 17th year of The Orchid Show: Singapore, the Garden selected an appropriate theme to go along with its year long festival of #plantlove by celebrating a city which prizes the creation of green spaces so that its populace can commune with nature, meditate and spiritually regenerate surrounded by wondrous botanical beauty.

NYBG Orchid Show: Singapore, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Botanic Gardens, NYBG, NYBG 17th Annual Orchid Show

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore’ Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

Singapore is a city-state at the tip of the Malay peninsula between Malaysia and Indonesia in Southeast Asia. It comprises one main island and dozens of tiny ones in an area around the size of New York City. It is a nation whose forward-thinking ideas and ambition for speed-of-light progress moved it from a third-world country to first world status in one generation, thanks to its brilliant Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The Prime Minister conceived of his island nation and its multicultural population as a lush urban oasis. He realized his dream with greening projects and innovations that included nature preserves, glorious parks, and spaces and places for the populace to relax in natural environs.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Supertree replica inspired from ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Singapore, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ another view of the Supertree replica inspired from ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ (Carole Di Tosti)

From this burgeoning vision, the nation has made it an imperative to recognize the importance of plants, nature and tropical gardens so that the city has become a veritable  “City in a Garden.” Every new building, every new development must include plants and green places by law. Over the years Singapore has remained true to Prime Minister Yew’s conception so that today, it is recognized as the city with the greatest percentage of tree canopy cover anywhere in the world. And how it creates this tree canopy is absolutely gobsmacking. The orchids make it especially so..

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ detail, Supertree replica inspired from ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Singapore (Carole Di Tosti)

Singapore has one of the greatest and oldest orchid cultures in the world and is home to 220 distinct orchid species. The only nation that doesn’t have a wild plant species as the national flower, Singapore’s national flower is a hybrid orchid indicating how important hybrids are to their culture and economy.

Vanda 'Miss Joaquim' hybrid orchid, Singapore National Flower, NYBG Orchid Show: Singapore, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’ hybrid orchid, Singapore National Flower, NYBG Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (courtesy of NYBG)

The hybrid Vanda Miss Joaquim which produces striking purple-pink and flame-orange blooms throughout the year is named for its creator Agnes Joaquim (1854-1899) who was a member of Singapore’s small American community. Agnes Joaquim entered her orchid in Singapore’s annual Flower Show in 1899 which garnered a first prize as the rarest orchid. Subsequently, in 1981, Miss Joaquim was selected to represent Singapore as the national flower. Their choice of a hybrid honors the storied history of Singapore’s venerable orchid cultivation, and the multicultural and religious blend of its citizens.

Cultivators enjoy creating new orchid hybrids the total of which now numbers in the many thousands globally. Horticulturists have hybridized orchids in Singapore since the 19th century because the species naturally flourishes in the wet, tropical climate. Visiting Singapore one notices the daily orchid pageant as gorgeous varieties cling to trees and populate the gardens, parks and greens spaces. Each year growers export millions of stalks for the international flower market

This historical attention to plants and the gradual veneration of orchids began in 1859 when a group of horticulturists and agriculturists established the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Botanists at the Gardens experimented with utilitarian plants like the rubber tree which became a vital agricultural crop turned into a product used in industrial manufacturing. They began their serious experimentation and cultivation of orchids in 1928, developing groundbreaking techniques for propagation which helped to establish Singapore’s prodigious orchid cultivation industry. The Botanic Gardens have propagated and developed more than 630 hybrids. The National Orchid Garden displays thousands of orchids. Many of them have been created there. Also, they display more than 1000 species from around the world.

17th Annual NYBG Orchid Show, Vanda orchid hybrids, Miss Joaquim, NYBG Orchid Show: Singapore, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

Vandas ‘Miss Joaquim’ hybrid orchids, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore’ Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (courtesy of the NYBG)

Paying homage to Singapore’s appreciation and love of plants, the NYBG fashioned its floral spectacular with features represented in two botanical gardens in Singapore: Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Botanic Gardens. Walking down the familiar paths in the NYBG Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, to reach the Central Rotunda at the opposite end of  the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, one sees a panoply of orchids festooning simulations of the architectural elements found in Singapore’s famed gardens which the NYBG developed in partnership with them to create The Orchid Show: Singapore.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Supertree replica inspired from Singapore’s ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ NYBG Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Gardens by the Bay is a 250 acre public space in Singapore’s downtown area which opened in 2012 and is Singapore’s largest tourist attraction. The acreage comprises multiple gardens, futuristic glasshouses and a grove of Supertrees, Singapore’s paean to art, nature and technology. These Supertrees exemplify biomimicry in their design and engineering, modeled after natural forms and processes. The NYBG was inspired to create its own dynamic trees in celebration of Singapore’s amazing artistic/technological/horticultural sculptures, whose towering, 160 feet tall vertical gardens are unlike any other structure in the world. They are unparalleled for their utility and purpose which is to mimic the functions of trees using modern technology.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Dendrobiums, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore, Supertrees, NYBG

Phalaenopsis,NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ detail Supertree replica inspired from ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Singapore, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

Cascading ribbons of rainbow colors of,Vandas, Oncidiums, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobiums and other plant varieties flow down from these massive, tree giants that are embedded with photovoltaic cells that harvest solar energy. Their wide canopies provide shade and a habitat for epiphytes like orchids and other plants which grow on trees high in the air rather than in soil.  Supertrees collect and distribute rainwater and are fitted with solar panels that sustainably power dramatic light displays as real trees harvest the sun’s energy for photosynthesis. These Supertrees especially showcase that Singapore’s heart is in the right place with environmentally sustainable horticulture.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Supertree replica inspired from ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Singapore, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Supertree replica inspired from Singapore’s ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Palms of the World Gallery (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ upside down view, Supertree replica inspired from Singapore’s ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Supertree replica inspired from Singapore’s ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool (Carole Di Tosti)

Two gorgeous Supertree models are in The Orchid Show: Singapore, at either end of the conservatory. In the central showcase of the Rotunda, you will see fabulous orchid theater: every shape, color and major species of orchid hybrid reaches upward toward the lattice dome of the greenhouse in a breathtaking tower. The second marvelous Supertree replica is in the Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool. Look into the waters of the pool to see the mirror of the tall tree massed with white orchids which are interspersed with lovely fillers of ferns and colorful bromeliads. The NYBG’s eye popping orchid architectures are 18 feet tall and symbolize Singapore’s incredible structures found throughout the “City in a Garden” and featured spectacularly in the Supertree grove of The Gardens by the Bay.

Arhes of Singapore Botanic Gardens' National Orchid Garden, NYBG Orchid Show: Singapore, City in a Garden, Singpore

Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore’ (courtesy of NYBG)

The other architectural element you will find in The Orchid Show: Singapore is inspired by the magnificent Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden. In Singapore, the arches are radiantly festooned in the stunning yellow Singapore dancing lady hybrid (Oncidium Gloldiana). And these grow grow year-round. The replication of this design feature in the NYBG walkway stuns. On first glance in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory sauntering on the path to either Supertree Showcase, one understands immediately why the NYBG was inspired to include both architectural elements from Singapore in this year’s orchid show.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Detail, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Members Day, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Detail, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Detail, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

Following the passage from one Supertree to the other, you will move through five glorious arches clothed with hundreds of vibrant fuschias, blues, yellows, pinks, purples, golds of the various Vandas, Oncidiums, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobiums. The sheer number and abundance create breathtaking bowers along a stirring fantastical path which enthralls BECAUSE it is treasured living botanical art.  The archway’s profusion of exotic, shimmering beauty and the effects of the flowing Spanish moss, dangling blooms and beckoning orchid faces recall a pleasure garden paradise.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Detail, Oncidium, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Detail, Oncidium, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

If one can’t be a snowbird in February, then happily visit the NYBG a number of times in the next months until 28th of April to luxuriate in the tropics and allow your senses to revel in the exotic sights, smells and music, especially during Orchid Evenings (March 16, 23, 30; April 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 from 7-10 pm with entry times at 7, 7:30 and 8:00 pm.)

CEO NYBG Carrie Rebora Barratt and Marc Hachadourian, NYBG 'Orchid Show: Singapore,' Press Day, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, NYBG

CEO NYBG Carrie Rebora Barratt and Marc Hachadourian, Orhid Curator, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Press Day, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool (Carole Di Tosti)

Kudos to Marc Hachadourian (The curator of NYBG’s Orchid Show: Singapore, Director of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections and a staunch CITES advocate to preserve rare orchids and rescue them at NYBG) who oversees the orchid collections for the show.

And equal praise goes Christian Primeau (Manager of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory). Christian Primeau a few years ago mentioned that he likes the Paphiopedilums (Lady’s Slippers) and I noted their placement in key areas featured on rocks near reflecting pools, recalling their natural habitats. Marc and Christian collaborate to come up with the orchid selections to display most effectively in the architectural elements so that the exhibits will remain fresh and gorgeous. They and the entire staff work assiduously to get the show up and running after the Holiday Train Show is struck.  The beds must be graded and prepared for the orchid plantings. Then comes the staff to complete the design and color coordinated exhibits in keeping with the current show’s theme. And having spoken to each of these experts over the years (see my previous posts on Blogcritics and Youtube) their #plantlove obviously has manifested in this extraordinary exhibit.

As has Karen Daubmann’s #plantlove (Associate Vice-President for Exhibitions and Public Engagement). Her extensive collaboration with Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Botanic Gardens to help make The Orchid Show: Singapore a success is apparent from the moment you enter the Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool. Karen mentioned that she had spent a bit of time in Singapore and attested to its forward innovations and emphasis in recognition of the vitality of plants, orchids, flowers everywhere you go in the “City in a Garden.”

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Daning Lady Orchids, Oncidium, NYBG Orchid Show: Singapore (Carole Di Tosti)

A few last points follow here about the NYBG Orchid Show: Singapore. Along your journey through the various galleries of the conservatory, make sure to watch out for the sign indicating the Vanilla Orchid. Yes, vanilla comes from an orchid. And stop by to view the amazing variety of rare orchids (delicate, lovely) in their glass case which houses some of the Garden’s rescued orchids. Since 1990 the Garden has been a designated CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Plant Rescue Center.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

Paphiopedilum (Lady’s Slipper) NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore’ (Carole Di Tosti)

The Garden preserves and rehabilitates orchids that have been rescued from poachers around the world (Brazil, Thailand, Peru, India, etc.) who exploit rare orchids from their native habitats and sell them. Because such rare orchids can bring a substantial price for the right buyer, poachers are constantly on the lookout, especially if they have an unethical collector at the ready. Coupled with their low growth densities in the wild and other threats to the species (deforestation, habitat destruction, climate change) wild orchids are among the most endangered plants in the world.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ Supertree replica inspired from ‘Gardens by the Bay,’ Singapore, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

Words cannot easily define the wonder and hope that has been realized from Yew’s dream of an oasis. It is that wonder which now resides until April 28th at the New York Botanical Garden. That the Garden has extolled Yew’s vision of “The City in a Garden” vision and honored it this year with The Orchid Show: Singapore cannot be underestimated nor underappreciated. It must be understood for its symbolism, especially now that many of the institutions that have been created to preserve and protect our nation and its environs, parks, preserves, green spaces are being threatened by those in power obsessed with a different form of greenery. Though most Americans are abjectly opposed to the rapacity for the accumulation of profits in industries that are unsustainable and run counter to our planet’s well being, De-regulation in the wrong direction is happening in the US.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore, 17th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Singapore

NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ replica of Arches of Singapore Botanic Gardens’ National Orchid Garden, walkway gallery Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (Carole Di Tosti)

In light of this potential threat and the threat of Global Warming, Singapore shines an incredible light of hope in innovation,  and faith that where “there’s a will, there’s a way” to create sustainable, fabulous green spaces to uplift and regenerate the citizens of a nation. Thanks to the NYBG, its scientists, botanists, researchers, horticulturists, staff and volunteers, all #plantlovers who constantly remind us of what we must not lose, the beauty of our planet whose flora and fauna are sacred and integral to ourselves.

Awkwafina, razy Rich Asians, NYBG Orhid Show: Singapore, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

Vanda Awkwafina hybrid, named by NYBG after celebrity Awkwafina (star of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and’ Ocean’s 8,’ displayed at NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Singapore,’ (Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Singapore has excellent activities that reflect the culture of Singapore in its music and dance during the daytime and especially during Orchid Evenings. Again, there will be the Bronx Night Market Pop-up featuring Barbecue, Vegan, Fried Chicken, Empanadas and other offerings to enjoy while listening to DJ’s perform and watching dancers freestyle. And if you are sick and tired of killing your orchids because you over-water them, you need to attend a few “Orchid Care Demonstrations” in the Conservatory’s GreenSchool on a Saturday or Sunday between 2:30-3:30 pm. Let an expert help you save your plants.

The Orchid Show: Singapore runs until 28th of April. For select programming, membership, children’s activities and more CLICK HERE.

Bar Car Nights at The New York Botanical Garden, a Fun Event

Bar CAr Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018

Bar Car Night, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination (Carole Di Tosti)

The Garden in the evenings is like a magical mystery tour. Whether you go into the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory or travel the lit paths through the Garden or sample the delights at food trucks, the Bronx Night Market or food booths, there is always something to see and do during every season. Specifically the evening displays during which you may buy alcoholic drinks and must have proof of ID, for the 21 and older crowds are incredible fun with friends.

Bar Car Nights, 27th Holiday Train Show, NYBG, the Bronx

Bar Car Nights, packed crowd before entering 27th The Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

During the Holiday Train Show and Winter Season, there are The Bar Car Nights.  This year they take place from 7-10:30 p.m. In the month of December the dates are 22, 28, 29. And in January, the Bar Car Nights are on the 5th and 12th.

Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show

Folks chowed down at the food booths from tacos to vegan offerings. Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, food booths at NYBG

Food booths and fire pit, Bar Car Nights, NYBG 27th Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

The Bar Car Nights events which are a feature of the Winter Season have expanded to include more activities. I went last night which was perfect. The rain stopped and it was actually warm, a blip in the weather. The individual doing the ice sculptures commented that the ice was melting more quickly. Last year when I went with friends it was below freezing, 10 degrees in the New York City area which was experiencing a very cold December. Yesterday, it was in the 50s.Weather weirding and Climate Change. Oh, I forgot…that doesn’t exist “nationally.”. But in New York, the entire state governance is  consonant with the California, whose leadership has come out in support for the Paris Climate Accord.

Bar Car Nights, 27th Holiday Train Show, Bar Car Nights

Holiday Train Show 2018, NYBG, Bar Car Nights (Carole Di Tosti)

Regardless of the weather, the show goes on. Last night, there was a large turn out and the crowds were thrilled with the offerings of the Holiday Train Show, the the musical activities in the Pine Tree Cafe and more. The food booths gave up heavenly aromas of fried chicken, barbecue, tacos and Vegan dishes. The booths were packed when I left around 9:00 pm, though the party was just getting started.  And the bar section and fire pit was enjoyable, even though folks didn’t necessarily need to warm their hands in the freezing cold.

Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show 2018, NYBG

27th Holiday Train Show, Bar Car Nights, Applied Imagination (Carole Di Tosti)

The evenings in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are mystical realism. I love the sounds of the trains, the shimmering lights, the jazz and pop music in the background and especially the lights coming from the interiors of the New York botanical replicas. All of seems mysterious and the whispering of the foliage in the evening and its aroma and aura is special for a plant enthusiast like me.

One World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan Display, Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show, NYBG, Applied Imagination

One World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan Exhibit, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, Bar Car Nights, 27 NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, One World Trade Center, Oculus

Detail, One World Trade Center display and Oculus, Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show, Leon Levy Visitor Center

Lighting the way for friends a dancer with hoops, 27th Holiday Train Show, NYBG Bar Car Nights (Carole Di Tosti)

Whether you enjoy chatting with friends sauntering through landscape with a wine or other beverage in your hand, or really dig the intricacies of the replicas, it’s a fun time. Last night there was a mixture of couples and friends groups. It seemed that the entire Bronx community was out and about. The Garden is a huge focal point of the Bronx and indeed, parents, children, educators, all community groups in the area make use of the Garden’s programs. Some of the couples last night were young and they came with oodles of friends. Older couples I’ve seen mostly on Member Day. However, last night, the age range was considerable. The draw is a night to get away from kids and hang with friends, be entertained with some cool music with a few drinks in hand and seeing the beauties of the season.

Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show

Hell’s Gate, GW Bridge, Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

What’s not to love? Some of the pictures of the splendid Holiday Train Show are above, and the activities are below. Others I’ve posted elsewhere on my Social Media pages. Enjoy.

27th NYBG Holiday Train Show, Bar Car Nights

At the food booths there were crowds. Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, 2018 Holiday Train Show, NYBG

Bar Car Nights ballerina, 2018 Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, 27th Holiday Train Show, Ice Sculptor

Bar Car Nights, NYBG 27th Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination, Ice Sculptor (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018

Dueling Pianos at the Pine Tree Cafe, Bar Car Nights, 27th NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show 2018,

On Saturdays, there is the Bronx Night Market, Bar Car Nights, 27th Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

The 27th Holiday Train Show will be at the NYBG until January 21st. It is open Tuesday – Sunday and Monday, December 24 (3 p.m.) and January 21, 10 a.m. -6 p.m. The Garden will be closed on December 25 (Christmas). Extended hours, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays until January 19, Friday Decmber 26-January 1. For all programming go to the website. And above all become a member to enjoy the NYBG year round. For tickets to The Holiday Train Show and BAR CAR NIGHTS, this evening, go to their website.

NYBG Edible Academy Celebrates its Expansion

The New York Botanical Garden has always prized horticultural/environmental research, preservation and sustainability. This is especially so in this crisis period where the US no longer participates in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. As a part of their vision to educate children and families about how gardens improve the environmental landscape and integrate human growth, wellness and health, the NYBG is briskly moving forward to assist the global on the local level in NYC.

New York Botanical Garden, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremony

Children from area public schools picking the first harvest of vegetables from the Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

The Garden is accomplishing this by operating a State-of-the Art Edible Academy that expanded their former academy into an amazing three acre campus. The central purpose of the Edible Academy is to teach children and families how to grow, harvest and prepare healthy, clean, organic produce. It is also to encourage the knowledge that sustainability in various forms like cutting down on food waste, composting, food shopping carefully, etc., are practices we should engage in to meet our personal goals to support global and local environments.

NYBG, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremony

Year-round greenhouse, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies (Carole Di Tosti)

Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremony

Kitchen classroom, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Apiary, Edible Academy, NYBG

Kate Solomon Family Apiary, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14, 2018, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies

Campus of the Edible Academy with guests, donors, officials viewing the buildings, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14, 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies, NYBG

The lettuces, like all the vegetables grown at the Edible Academy, are organic, with attention to no use of chemicals to keep away insects, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

The NYBG has had an acclaimed garden-based education program for many years. However, to better serve the community of thousands of children in the New York City area, the Garden funded the expansion of the Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden through public and private donations, totaling $28 million. The indoor-outdoor campus, designed by the Cooper Robertson architectural firm, boasts cutting-edge sustainable technology which allows the NYBG’s edible gardening program to operate year-round. With their improvements the Garden has doubled its capacity to involve children, families, teachers and the general public in programs every season.

marigolds, NYBG, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies

Marigolds are a part of every organic garden to keep away insects, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremony June 14

The Edible Academy grows different types of vegetables: lettuces, peas, kale, broccoli to name a few, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14

Students from Edgar Allan Poe School in the Bronx, teachers, donors and other visitors at the Opening Day Ceremony Dedication of the Edible Academy, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14

Nasturtiums (flowers in the foreground) are keeping away aphids and other insects from the vegetables, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremony June 14

The Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden initiated in 1993, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Meadow Garden, NYBG, Edible Academy

Royce Family Meadow Garden by the greenhouse has wildflowers to attract beneficial insects, Edible Academy, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Meadow Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14

Another view of the Meadow Garden with State-of-the-Art Buildings in the background, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

The Edible Academy expansion is one more turning point on the highway of success the NYBG has paved over the decades to engage children and families to understand the importance of nature in their spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical well being. The power of nature to heal is a fact which scientists may have underestimated in the past, but now are studying in earnest. Indeed, there is a renewed interest in how “getting back to the land and the soil” heals soldiers and others with PTSD and helps children and adults with psychological problems by reaffirming mind/body connections to support the whole individual’s wellness.

Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremony June 14

Vegetable beds, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Additionally, as films like Eating Animals indict agribusiness, industrial farming and industrialized animal husbandry, individuals acknowledge the importance of farm to table, fresh versus canned or frozen, and organic and free ranged chicken or beef versus processed animals. The latter inhumanely raised, shot up with antibiotics, and growth-hormones and fed with bio-engineered “round-up ready” plant grains that have been sprayed with chemicals to discourage fungus or insets, are egregious components of global warming.

Edible Academy, NYBG

Herbs, purple basil, parsley, rosemary, Edible Academy, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14

Another view from inside the kitchen classroom looking out on the garden with children and attendees to celebrate the dedication of the Edible Academy, NYBG, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Not only have agribusinesses and the correlative processed food industry impoverished once noble farmers making them into indentured servants, the toxicity of food additives and preservatives have wrecked our metabolisms and immune systems. Since fast food consumerism burgeoned and profits over healthy eating became the sine quo none of the food industry in the late 1970s, obesity rates of families have risen steadily to the present. Related illnesses never seen before like increased instances of childhood diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation have been recorded by doctors. Clearly, acidity and toxicity have overtaken our bodies based upon our eating habits as we have chosen fast food convenience over healthy planned “start from scratch” meals at home.

Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremony June 14

Various vegetables, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Scientists and nutritionists have acknowledged the long-term impact of the chemicals we ingest in our food, drinks and water.  In positing chemicals’ (including food preservatives, dyes, MSG, flavor enhancers) deleterious side effects on the human immune system, Europe has banned over 1000 chemicals emphasizing non GMO, non-irradiated produce and wheat, few preservatives, artisanal meat, cheese, wine and more.  In France they have managed to keep out Monsanto corn and soybeans, which is the only offering in the US. In Italy they have created the slow food and slow wine movement since 1989, encouraging fresh, locally grown in cooperative farming as they eschew fast food and processed food.

Edible Academy, NYBG

Edible Academy, NYBG, fresh sweet peas have no preservatives like canned peas (Carole Di Tosti)

Thankfully, the US has caught on, though we have remained behind Europe. We only ban 80 chemicals recognized to be toxic for human consumption, which is to say there are 920 chemicals or more that should be banned. Sadly, recent political developments and the vitiation of environmental policies and Food and Drug regulations threaten even the small strides we have made.

NYC Mayor de Blasio, Gregory Long, Maureen K. Chilton, Carrie Rebora Barratt, Ph.D., Edible Academy, NYBG,

Center- Mayor de Blasio (R) outgoing CEO and president Gregory Long, (L of the Mayor) Carrie Rebora Barratt, Ph.D. incoming CEO and president, with Chairman of the Board Maureen K. Chilton and government officials who support this effort, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Rappaport Family Toolshed, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14

Rappaport Family Toolshed, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Thus, the NYBG Edible Academy is needed now more than ever, and surely, it remains a beacon for us in dark times. As a sanctuary for living plants and animals (native wildlife), it reminds us that we must uplift who we are, what we put in our bodies and what we must allow in the broader society. Above all the Garden is a bulwark which encourages us to remember we are interconnected with the earth, and thus, must do our part to help our human, plant and animal communities thrive.

Outgoing CEO and President Gregory Long, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chairman of the Board Maureen K. Chilton, Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14, NYBG

(L to R): Outgoing CEO and NYBG President Gregory Long, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chairman of the Board Maureen K. Chilton, Dedication of the Edible Academy, June 14, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

To these ends, The Edible Academy expansion is money well spent especially for New York City children. The area around NYBG has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. Many do not have access to fresh, affordable fruit and vegetables. Indeed, as a result there are high rates of obesity-related ailments. However, there is good news. Extensive research has shown that children who plant and harvest their own produce develop important life skills as they shop, prepare and cook their meals with wisdom. And they are more likely to eat healthful fresh fruits and vegetables and cook meals “from scratch” because the food flavors are incredible.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Edible Academy, NYBG Chairman of the Board Maureen K. Chilton, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (center) with Chairman of the Board Maureen K. Chilton and donors of the Edible Academy, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

As a measure of the support for the importance of the NYBG mission, Garden leaders, government officials, corporate and foundation donors and dozens of Bronx schoolchildren showed up on June 14, 2018 to celebrate the opening of the Edible Academy’s momentous occasion. The Academy, which has been in the physical works for about eighteen months, has been in conceptualization for years. “We have long dreamed of expanding the Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden,” said Maureen K. Chilton, Chairman of the NYBG Board of Trustees, who added, “With the opening of the Edible Academy, we will now be able to offer even more educational resources, impacting the lives of countless children as they learn about gardening, plant science and healthful living.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Edible Academy Dedication June 14, NYBG

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio cuts the ribbon in the Opening Day Ceremony dedicating the Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies, June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, Bronx Councilmember, Ritchie Torres, New York State Senator, Jeffrey D. Klein, NY State Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and other officials were present as Mayor de Blasio cut the ribbon and opened the ceremony dedicating the expansion. Mayor de Blasio affirmed that the City of New York provided $8.6 million for the Edible Academy through the Department of Cultural Affairs. And through the leadership of the NYS Senate and Assembly, the Edible Academy received $2.5 million.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Tom Finkelpearl, Maureen K. Chilton, Gregory Long, William D. Rueckert, Dr. Carrie Rebora Barratt, Edible Academy Dedication June 14, NYBG

Student presenting the first harvest in the dedication of the Edible Academy. Mayor de Blasio speaks to another student behind the podium who presented his basket. Present with the Mayor are Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl, Gregory Long, Dr. Carrie Barratt, Maureen K. Chilton, William D. Rueckert-President of the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation

Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden, Green Thumb Garden, Global Garden, Children's Gardening Program Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG

Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden is a collection of three gardens, Green Thumb Garden, Global Garden, Children’s Gardening Program Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Mayor de Blasio along with other speakers identified the importance of the Edible Academy to influence generations. He stated, “Though New York City offers students access to parks, cultural institutions, and educational experiences unlike anywhere else, opportunities to learn about agriculture in our urban jungle can be a little harder to find.” And he added, “Now, more children, educators and families can use this extraordinary resource to better understand the connections between diet, well-being and the stewardship of our planet.”

Edible Academy, NYBG

Italian Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Edible Academy, NYBG

Caribbean Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

That Mayor de Blasio has a heart for children not only was evidenced here at the opening of the Edible Academy. Some days later the Mayor found out like the rest of us through fine investigative journalism that immigrant children were being separated from families in the President’s new Zero Tolerance Policy at our Southern Border. Housed in cages, sleeping on concrete, not knowing where their parents were, some were flown in secret at night to New York City shelters unbeknownst to city or state officials.

Global Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG,

Global Garden, Edible Academy, NYBG. After the ceremonies guests had lunch at the Solar Pavilion (Carole Di Tosti)

After the Mayor and Governor Cuomo flew to the border, apprised the situation and came back to the city, some of the children were located in Harlem and increased services were provided. On the news Mayor de Blasio and others stated that the number of children in New York City, once thought to be 239 was now hovering around 600 for those at a Daytime facility. Most probably, the WH administration has had immigrant children flown to other areas of New York City, perhaps even the Bronx. Thus, in the upcoming months, the Garden and the Edible Academy may offer a measure of encouragement and support if such children over the years find their way to the doors of the Edible Academy.

Edible Academy, NYBG, Susan P. and Coley Burke Amphitheater

The Susan P. and Coley Burke Amphitheater beyond the greenhouse, Edible Academy, NYBG, Opening Day Ceremonies June 14 (Carole Di Tosti)

Before you visit the Academy, read up on the innovative and sustainable design elements to appreciate the buildings set into the farm-like setting. The campus includes a green roof for the classroom building, geothermal wells for heating and cooling, a freestanding solar pavilion to help power the facility, and composting toilets. Of course all are designed to minimize the environmental impact of the facility and support one of the largest educational gardening programs in the US. These sustainability features meet the criteria for certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Project. What an amazing learning facility for NYC children which is in keeping with New York State’s philosophy to affirm the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement despite its rejection by the current WH administration.

There is so much to see and do at NYBG, you will need to make a number of visits during each of the year-round exhibits (Holiday Train Show, Orchid Show, Rose Garden, Spring blooms: azealas, daffodils, lilacs, Summer Concerts, Fall Pumpkin Weekend, etc.) and activities. If you have kids, they will love the Edible Academy and the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden which has seasonal, year-round events and fun programs. Certainly, a Garden family membership will pay itself off many times over and comes with additional free parking.

Heliconia, Crab's Claw Ginger, 1939, oil on canvas, Sharon Twigg-Smith Collection, Georgia O'Keeffe, NYBG Exhibit, Georgia O'Keeffe Visions of Hawai'i

Heliconia, Crab’s Claw Ginger, 1939, Oil on Canvas, collection of Sharon Twigg-Smith, Georgia O’Keeffe, NYBG’s Exhibit, ‘Georgie O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i’ (photo taken at the Luesther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery by Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG Exhibit Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of Hawai'i, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Heliconia Crab's Claw Ginger

The real Heliconia Crab’s Claw Ginger at the Enid A. Hapt Conservatory, NYBG Exhibit ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i’ (Carole Di Tosti)

Currently, the main exhibit, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Visions of Hawai’i (through October 28th) makes its home in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, at the Luesther T. Mertz Library and Art Gallery and elsewhere in the Garden. At the Art Gallery you will see gorgeous paintings inspired by plants and scenic vistas from Georgia O’Keeffe’s commissioned journey to Hawai’i. Look for outdoor installations by contemporary Hawaiian-Chinese sculptor Mark Chai, inspired by the forms of the plants that O’Keeffe encountered while visiting the exotic paradise.

Mark Chai, NYBG Exhibit, Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of Hawai'i

Installation by sculptor Mark Chai, NYBG Exhibit ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i’ (Carole Di Tosti)

And take a tram ride to the Edible Academy and spend time investigating the campus. You will enjoy the Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden (three gardens), the Classroom Building (with a demonstration kitchen classroom), the greenhouse, the Pauline Gillespie Gossett Overlook Pavilion (you see the Bronx River), the Susan P. and Coley Burke Ampitheater, the Solar Pavilion, the Wamsler Phillips Plant Nursery and much more.

For Garden programming, CLICK HERE.  For membership CLICK HERE.   For the Summer Concert Series CLICK HERE.  If you have never been to the NYBG you are missing a treasure in NYC that you cannot divine until you visit. It is one of New York City’s hidden gems, a haven and a sanctuary for thousands of visitors and members each year. But do not wait to the last minute of the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit or any exhibit for that matter. You will be bumping into crowds who want to go one last time to experience the Garden’s wonders.

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show ‘Bar Car Nights’ One Last Time

If you have not been to Bar Car Night of the NYBG Holiday Train Show, this weekend will be your last chance. The entire week, the cold has softened into the sunshine and snow melt. It would be a wonderful time to go with friends, partner, spouse, lover, blind date, seeing date or just yourself. Have a few drinks, saunter through the gorgeous conservatory and various galleries appreciating Applied Imagination’s love letter to New York and NYC and go home refreshed and ready for a new week.

St. Patrick's Manhattan NYBG Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show

St Patrick’s, Manhattan, NYBG Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

The Jewish Museum, NYBG Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show

The Jewish Museum, NYBG Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination

NYC Row Houses, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination

Row Houses against GW Bridge, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

IMG_1153

GW Bridge, NYBG Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Applied Imagination, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Another view from underneath the GW Bridge, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Holiday Train Show, NYBG Bar Car Nights, Applied Imagination

Row Houses, NYBG Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

The show’s main Palms of the World Gallery features the new exhibits of Mid Town Manhattan and the show is splendid with some of the seasonal decorations still hanging and lights twinkling. everywhere. One of the most popular of the NYBG shows, ‘Bar Car Nights’ is the time to leave the kids at home and enjoy the quiet, low surrounding conversations as you note the incredibly imagined replicas that pay homage to old world Victorian New York and the twentieth century.

Senator Clark mansion, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG, Applied Imagination

Senator Clark mansion that was demolished, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

The show advances our historical knowledge of many buildings and structures that have either been demolished or destroyed. Five bridges of New York (Brooklyn, Queensboro, Manhattan, Hells Gate and the George Washington sparkle their lights as trolleys and passenger cars slip quickly over the bridge trestles. One also notes various sections of Manhattan-Museum Row, NYPL,Central Park, Morris Jumel Mansion, Park Avenue Armory, Mid-town Manhattan-Empire State Building, East Side/West Side Row Houses; Brooklyn-Coney Island’ Queens-the TWA Flight Center, the Bronx-Poe Cottage, NYBG Haupt Conservatory, Yankee Stadium, Hudson River Valley mansions and more.

Coney Island, Luna Park, Bar Car Nights, NYBG, Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination Paul Busse, Laura Busse Dolan

Coney Island, Brooklyn Bridge, Luna Park, Steeple Chase, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG

Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Coney Island, Brooklyn Bridge, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show

Coney Island, Brooklyn Bridge, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Elephant Colossus, Coney Island, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG

Elephant Colossus, Coney Island, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Wonder Wheel, Coney Island, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Wonder Wheel, Coney Island, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Whether you move slowly observing all of the sustainable, botanical wonder (stems, leaves, twigs, see pods, pine cones, acorn caps, cinnamon, etc.) that create finials, roof tops, gables, windows, decorative elements and stones, or just jet through taking in the overall sensual experience, you will feel wellness spark your soul. The creative energy, joy and love demonstrated by the details of the structures and placement among the NYBG’s finest living panoramas and water features will delight. It is worth it to take a trip for the evening magic and variety of visual and aural sights that will titillate, yet soothe your senses.

Queensboro Bridge, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination

Queensboro Bridge close up, Bar Car Nights, NYBG, Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination

Mid-Manhattan scene, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Bar Car Nights, NYBG, Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, Mid-town Manhattan exhibit, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Another view Mid-town Manhattan, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Another view, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Mid-town Manhattan, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination

Mid Town Manhattan, Palms of the World Gallery, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

St. Bartholomews, Bar Car Nights, NYBG, Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination, Paul Busse, Laura Busse Dolan

St. Bartholomews, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show, Palms of the World Gallery (Carole Di Tosti)

NYBG, Holiday Train Show, Applied Imagination

Mid-town Manhattan display, daytime view, Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG ‘Holiday Train Show’ (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG

The Bronx, old Yankee Stadium, Bar Car Nights, NYBG, Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

New York, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG

New York State mansions, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

old Penn Station, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Old Penn Station, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

The show enjoying 26 years at the New York Botanical Garden has been engineered, created and lovingly collaborated to delight and enthrall by the team at Applied Imagination. Applied Imagination’s baton has passed from creator and founder Paul Busse to his daughter Laura Busse Dolan. She discussed her Dad’s evolving the show over the years. Laura Busse Dolan has fulfilled and maintained her Dad’s intention to create a world of New York grandeur in miniature. And around the fantastic replicas wholly created with sustainable plant parts and biodegradable materials, 25 gauge trains leap, choo-choo, slip smoothly.

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG

Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show, NYBG (Carole Di Tosti)

Old Penn Station, Br Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Another view of old Penn Station, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show

Upstate New York Station house inn, Bar Car Nights, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

Laura Busse Dolan, Applied Imagination NYBG Holiday Train Show

Laura Busse Dolan, Owner Applied Imagination, NYBG Holiday Train Show (Carole Di Tosti)

The amazement of Bar Car Nights for me always becomes noting the differences of the daytime Holiday Train Show and the cold wintry evening in the shadowy NYGB. The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a fountain of sunlight streaming brilliantly through the latticework and glass cheers. The delicacy of the replicas, the intricacy of their botanical components from magnolia seed pods to cinnamon sticks, bamboo, eucalyptus, acorn caps and more fascinate. How does the team innovate the use of a twig or bark for various buildings to simulate Senator William Clark’s guilded-age mansion? Clearly, their intimacy and knowledge and experience with materials and collaborative efforts prompt them to top themselves each year as they place the buildings among gorgeous flowering shrubs, orchids, palms and water displays.

The NYBG Holiday Train Show ends on 15 January. This is the last week and weekend of the show.  You may check for tickets HERE.  Bar Car Nights end on 13 of January, this Saturday. Pick up tickets by CLICKING HERE.

NYBG, Bar Car Nights, Holiday Train Show

The magic of the NYBG during the winter season on Bar Car Nights for the Holiday Train Show. 13 of January is the last evening you will be able to experience Bar Car Nights. (Carole Di Tosti)

If you missed The Holiday Train Show select programming this year because you were out of town, the show will be presented annually and you should mark your calendar for special events that happen during the winter season inclusive of the Holiday Train Show. From music to dance, from movies to poetry readings, the New York Botanical Garden is a hive of activity for the entire family. If you are a New Yorker, you probably are apprised of this. If you are a global traveler, this is one of the places to be during the Christmas and Holiday season. If you can’t make it this year, check for the show around Thanksgiving in November of next year.

New York Botanical Garden ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ a Feast for the Senses and the Soul

Vandas, Bromeliads, Phaelaenopsis, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Vandas, Bromeliads, NYBG’s ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Every year I attend the NYBG Orchid Show (now in its 15th year) I am pleasantly surprised to note that the exhibits are increasingly more intricate and more lovely. This year Orchid Show: Thailand is absolutely smashing. It runs until 9 April. The team of professionals, staff, volunteers and others whose creativity, prodigious effort and great good will in executing the drama of a beautiful, living production of one of the most exquisite and exotic of plant species, has outdone itself.

Dendrobrium, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Dendrobrium, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Karen Daubmann (AVP of Exhibitions and Public Engagement at NYBG) originated the theme Thailand which she had been considering for a number of years. She is thrilled with Christian Primeau’s (Designer of Orchid Show: Thailand) and March Hachadourian’s (Director of the Nolen Greenhouses who curates the show) culminating work to create this striking exhibit. Christian and Marc collaborated to select the orchids and then came up with the unique and inspired interpretations and symbolic representations that are NYBG’s Orchid Show: Thailand.

orchids, NYBG, The Orchid Show: Thailand

A riot of orchid varieties on the walkway at NYBG ‘The Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

It has been a while since the staff and experts conceptualized a geographical theme for the NYBG orchid show. Thailand was an excellent fit. For uber orchid experts, Thailand is synonymous with orchids. Thailand has been in the forefront of orchid horticulture in the cultivation and hybridization of orchids and in the expansion and promotion of orchid farming for more than a century. It is the biggest exporter of tropical orchids globally and if you ask an expert, he or she will tell you that whether native or hybrid, orchids are mostly associated with Thailand.

Dendrobium, NYBG, The Orchid Show: Thailand

Dendrobium, NYBG’s ‘The Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

The Thai people lionize orchids because they flourish in the companionable climate. They add explosions of vibrant, joyful color amidst the lush, green tropical foliage and they contribute handily to the GNP. Thai horticulturalists have been able to propagate a great variety of hybrids which have become ready plantings in Thai gardens adding tranquility and loveliness to promote well being. Their admiration of exotic tropical plants, the orchids’ wide variety of sizes, shapes and hues have prompted Thais to grow them on trees that line public streets.

NYBG, 15th Annual Orchid Show, Orchid Show: Thailand, Phaeleanopsis

Phaeleanopsis (moth orchids) at the 15th Annual NYBG’s ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti

Another reason why the country “fell” into orchid breeding and pursued it with diligence is because Thailand is the birth place and residence of 12oo known native species. Of course, there may be some native species yet to be discovered in Thailand; one can be sure botanists and orchid horticulturalists are on the hunt for them.

Phaelaenopsis, Bromeliads, Palms, Oncidium, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Phaelaenopsis, Bromeliads, Palms, Oncidium on the walkway NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

To realize Karen’s theme the NYBG team researched the integration of orchids in Thai culture. They explored how to incorporate particular elements of Thai social and religious structure into the exhibit. They made sure to honor symbols and traditions that the Thai people venerate, adhering to them assiduously throughout the show; that was Christian’s particular passion. Combining these features and designing them into the backdrop of the veritable kaleidoscope of the orchids themselves, has made this show a number one pick to revisit time and again to renew one’s spirit and be soothed by the phantasmagoria of beauty that bathes the senses as you saunter through the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand, 15th Annual Orchid Show

Elephant topiaries carrying orchids in the Palms of the World Gallery and reflecting pool, NYBG’s ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

After seeing the show once or twice, you get it! Upon entering the Palms of the World Gallery at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, one’s perspective and emotions immediately shift. You are in a subtropical, lush, other worldly habitat where the plants are happily riotous. Centered in the reflecting pool which echoes the vibrant pageantry above and below in mirror images, the elaborately hued hybrids, the Phalaenopsis (moth orchids), Dendrobriums (hard cane, soft cane), pansy orchids, Oncidiums (dancing lady orchids) Paphiopedilum (lady slippers) and Vandas luxuriate. Water reflections in the Palm Gallery’s pool reverberate the striking color palate of orchid hybrids which Christian and Marc  selected to exemplify the Thai people’s preferences for amazing rainbows of color.

NYBG, 15th Annual Orchid Show, Orchid Show: Thailand, Palms of the World Gallery

Upside down reflection of Phaelaenopsis, Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG’s ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Also in the Palm Gallery are noted the Thai cultural elements that thread throughout the other galleries that comprise The Orchid Show: Thailand: water, elephants and noted varieties of orchids specially featured as Thai favorites (Vandas, Dendrobiums, Paphiopedilum). The reflecting pool is reminiscent of the Thai’s evocation of tranquility and serenity in their gardens which often sport small pools, ponds, waterfalls. The elephant topiaries carrying orchids indicate their veneration of the Thai elephant, chang thai. It is their national symbol. Thai elephants have been used for centuries as a means of transport and a laboring force. Chang thai’s picture is in on the emblems of many of Thailand’s provinces.

Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti

As you move around the Palms of the World Gallery and saunter into the walkway of the conservatory toward the piece de resistance, the 360 degree centerpiece heart of the exhibit, you will see elements of the Thai culture represented in the design features of the exhibit and in symbols throughout. To become aware of them, it will take close scrutiny. These design elements include bamboo sectionals and dividers-pieces of bamboo filled with moss. There are amazing dendrobium plantings in water jars, small topiaries which are a tribute to mai dat, the ancient Thai craftsmanship of clipping trees/shrubs into fanciful shapes. There are hanging Thai sky lanterns and hand carved teak spirit houses.

NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand, Palms of the World Gallery, 15th Annual Orchid Show, NYBG

Elephant topiary (detail) carrying Phaelaenopsis orchids, Palms of the World Gallery, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

If you have time you will note placards with information about lucky numbers and the sky lanterns. Numbers are very important symbols for Thais. They believe in lucky numbers: numbers divisible by three, odd numbers, the lucky number 3 and the penultimate lucky number 9. But the number 13 is bad news. You will never find it in Thailand which is similar to our rejection of the thirteenth floor in hotels across the nation.

Sky Lanterns, khom loi, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Sky Lanterns, (khom loi) Oncidium, Pitcher Plants  NYBG’s ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

At the beginning of the walkway after you leave the Palms of the World Gallery, look up. You will see the sky lanterns (khom loi). If you count their number it will total nine. Thais use khom loi during festivals and important occasions. These offer a soft, glowing, halo effect in the evenings; you’ve seen the sky lantern festival photos where folks light the lanterns, and like tiny hot air balloons, they rise over water. These lanterns will be lit during Orchid Evenings to create an enchanting effect. There are different sky lanterns farther on in the 360 degree centerpiece gallery which also number nine and which will be lit for Orchid Evenings. There is no preventing the good luck which is manifest everywhere in this orchid show.

Pirot GitiKoon, Thailand spirit houses,

Thai Spirit Houses of hand carved teak by Thai artist, Pirot Gitikoon with offerings at NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti

Integral to that insurance of good luck in Orchid Show: Thailand are the teak spirit houses hand carved by Thai artist Pirot Gitikoon, near the grand centerpiece. Spirit houses are traditional in Thailand and represent a merging of religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese ancestor worship and ancient Thai spirit worship or phra phum which is widespread.

Thai Spirit Houses, NYBG Orchid Show: Thailand

Hand carved teak Thai Spirit Houses with offerings, NYBG, ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Spirit houses appear in places of business and homes. It is believed spirits live in these houses made for them to guard against disaster: floods, typhoons, storms, catastrophe, etc. The spirit houses at the NYBG are hand carved with dragon elements: dragons symbolize wisdom, power and protection. Offerings of food, fruit, candies, cans of Fanta soda, exotic ceramic dancers, ceramic elephants are on a platform in front of the spirit house. They are there to lure the spirits to feel at home. These offerings include everything a spirit would need to live in the house, be entertained, eat, have transportation and protect the environs.

Thai sala, Thailand, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Thai sala with elephant topiary and a riot of orchids, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

At this point in your journey, you have come upon the 360 grand centerpiece. It is a  sala inspired by a structure created by Thai architect Mom Tri. Salas are pavilions which are incorporated into temple complexes and public places. They are used for relaxation, rest for weary travelers, meeting places, etc.

Thai sala, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Thai sala, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti

The NYBG sala and circular staging environs are adorned with all of the orchid varieties we’ve seen throughout the show arranged into a spectacular finale. The water element is present in a reflecting pool, the elephant topiaries carry white Phalaenopsis and fabulously hued Dendrobium. Paphiopedilum cling to moss on rocks in the pool. Mammoth Bromeliads frame the pool with ferns, palms and other foliage. Mega plantings of fabulous Phalaenopsis frame either side of the sala, while in the back spanish moss drips and pansy orchids greet those who peek behind the structure. Exceptional living theater.

Thai sala, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Thai sala, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Above are two pictures of the Thai sala from a different perspective, one a close-up

Thai sala, Thailand, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum

Paphiopedilum and watery reflections of Phalaenopsis at the Thai sala, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Serenity pool with Phalaenopsis petals and Paphiopedilum (lady slippers) near the sala, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

I took hundreds of photos capturing some of the thousands of orchids and found it difficult to wrap my mind around the prodigious effort it takes to choose the orchid show theme, plan the design, effect appropriate research, decide upon the plants, strike the previous show (Christmas train show) grade and prepare the ground, select the plants, arrange the design settings, then plant each orchid for this extravaganza which Christian mentioned took around nine (lucky number) months to plan and put together. The more I visit, the more I begin to understand what such a horticultural production, which March Hachadourian likens to a theatrical spectacle, entails. Can you imagine the behind-the-scenes drama to create this panoramic phenomenal display?

Karen Daubmann, AVP Exhibitions and Public Engagement, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Karen Daubmann, AVP of Exhibitions and Public Engagement, NYBG, ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ speaking to press at the Palms of the World Gallery (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Marc Hachadourian, Director of the NOlen Greenhouses, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Marc Hachadourian (Director of the Nolen Greenhouses, curates the exhibit’s orchid selection) NYBG, ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

Christian Primeau, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Christian Primeau by the Thai sala, Designer of the ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

The Orchid Show: Thailand must not be missed. One should especially come back for orchid evenings. Christian mentioned that the night before the show opened to the press, he was in the conservatory surveying the final results. The lanterns were lit, it was peaceful, tranquil and absolutely “magical,” a term he said he doesn’t use lightly. I believe it.

The photo above is the duality of reflections in a pool where up is down and the Phalaenopsis mirrors itself as the light and color bounces off the water.

I am definitely going back in the evening when the Garden is at its most ethereal and “magical.”  An Orchid Evening is coming up this Saturday, 4 March. Orchid Evenings are Saturdays: March 4, 11, 18, 25; April 1 and 8. Fridays: March 31 (LGBT night) and 7 April.

Dendrobium, NYBG, Orchid Show: Thailand

Dendrobium, NYBG ‘Orchid Show: Thailand’ (photo Carole Di Tosti)

The Thailand theme will be expressed everywhere in the Garden to enhance the exhibition.In addition to Orchid Evenings, there will be Film Screenings (Ross Hall) Dance Performances by the Somapa Thai Dance Company (Ross Hall or seasonally in Conservatory Plaza) Orchid Show Tours, Orchid Care Demonstrations and Orchid Expert Q & As. In the NYBG Garden Shop there is themed merchandise and a sea of orchids to purchase with an expert on hand to guide you. Phalaenopsis is easiest to grow with recurrent blooms.

The Orchid Show: Thailand runs until 9 April. For additional events and programming, CLICK HERE.

Read the rest of this entry

‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas’ at the NYBG

peony, NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Peony at the NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

If gardens represent a fount of life, revealing some of humankind’s and nature’s finest living creative achievements, artists throughout the centuries have been inspired to recreate on canvas the fanciful delight of blooming plants selected and arranged to display the best of life’s natural pageantry.

As part of the 125th year celebration of the NYBG, the dynamic NYBG team (scores collaborated to mount this exhibition), are paying tribute to the gardens that inspired American Impressionist painters (a brand of impressionism that revolves around subject, not painterly style).

The showpieces of “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas” receive an exquisite rendering in a unique floral exhibit at the Enid. A. Haupt Conservatory, and complementary display of more than 20 paintings and sculptures in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Art Gallery.

roses, NYBG Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

Roses at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG exhibit, ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Foxgloves at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG's 'Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.' Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Foxgloves at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Both the art work at the gallery and the show gardens in the conservatory capture American historical trends in painting (in plein air, influenced by French impressionism), around the turn of the 20th century and reflect the renewed interest in Colonial Revival gardens found in private residences and art colonies in the Hamptons and Old Lyme Connecticut.

The vibrant impressionist paintings and the radiant, ebullient floral showcase in the conservatory are mirror images of one another. The paintings reflect the subject American Impressionists were most enthralled by, American gardens.

Daniel Putnam Brinley, 'The Peony Garden,' Matilda Browne, in Voorhees's Garden, William Chadwick, Irises, NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Counterclockwise from top: Matilda Browne, “In Voorhees’s Garden,’ William Chadwick, ‘Irises,’ Daniel Putnam Brinley, ‘The Peony Garden,’ NYBG exhibit, ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas, John H. Twachtman, Wildflowers, Theodore Wores, Thomas Moran's House (East Hampton, Long Island), Edmund William Greacen, In Miss Florence's Garden

Counterclockwise from top: Edmund William Greacen, ‘In Miss Florence’s Garden,’ John H. Twachtman, ‘Wildflowers,’ Theodore Wores, ‘Thomas Moran’s House (East Hampton, Long Island)’ NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Artists appreciated that the gardens of the time uniquely characterized the domestic experience on the East Coast. They highlighted how middle and upper middle class Americans turned to their gardens for respite, relaxation, emotional uplift and sanctuary from the confusion of the cities, the unhealthful effects of pollution with heavy industrialization and unsettling urbanization.

The entire exhibition encompassing both venues reveals the marriage between the artists’ impressionism and their veneration of floral homespun, of gardens whose symbolism acknowledged a unique, national character distinct from the formal European gardens of France and the heavy-handed Victorian gardens of the gilded age. Americans seemed to have a desire for such subjects, though every now and then artists honed in on the more formal garden aspect sometimes for utilitarian reasons.

John Singer Sargent, The Fountain of Oceanus, NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

John Singer Sargent, ‘The Fountain of Oceanus,’ (1917), NYBG exhibit, ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo Carole Di Tosti

John Singer Sargent, Vase Fountain, Pocantico, NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

John Singer Sargent, ‘Vase Fountain Pocantico,’ NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

John Singer Sargent painted The Fountain of Oceanus (1917) and Terrace, Vizcaya (1917), when he was visiting two wealthy families to complete portrait commissions. (both paintings are at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery)  William de Leftwich Dodge built a studio house on Long Island in an airy classical style and created a series of Impressionist paintings to magnify his design of the terraced formal gardens and intricate pergolas. (His painting The Artist’s Garden [1916] may also be viewed at the Library Art Gallery)

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

 

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

At the time (1890s-up to WW I), there was a burgeoning interest in gardening and horticulture. Avid gardeners from spring to fall embraced planting multiple flowering species, so that when segments of flowers finished their growing seasons, others timed with sowings and plantings would be exploding into an exuberant cornucopia of petals as the earlier plantings waned. Thus, the gardens would always or nearly always be in a rainbow of blooms.

Concurrently, artists influenced by European impressionism were returning to America where they evolved their own cultural impressionism centered around intimate American lifestyle subjects.

NYBG, American Gardens on Canvas

NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

They eschewed the panoramic landscapes of the frontier style paintings of the golden west and expansive, mountain stained vistas. They supplanted images of vastness with the discrete, intimate, homely patchwork of every day life in the East. Our impressionists (like the French impressionists), painted urban scenes, old farms, villages with colonial styled homes, picturesque public parks and unpretentious homestyle gardens where the gardeners themselves were nature artists. But these were uniquely American.

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas, Childe Hassam, Old House and Garden, East Hampton, Long Island

Child Hassam, ‘Old House and Garden, East Hampton, Long Island,’ (1898) at NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

persian buttercup, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas, NYBG

Persian buttercup at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG exhibit, ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

There was a synergy that occurred by happenstance. Following French Impressionist Claude Monet’s example at Giverney, some artists (Hugh Henry Breckenridge, John H. Twachtman, Maria Oakey Dewing, William de Leftwich Dodge), planted their own gardens to evoke inspiration, then applied paint to canvas distilling the picturesque living arrangement they had effected in an intriguing unity of aesthetics. The conceptualization was that the gardens were echoes of their canvas counterparts; they were living paintings. What the artist did was to telescope the natural beauty not with a realistic style of painting, but one that was restive, evocative, with heavier brushstrokes. The thickness of paint teased out amorphous shapes and these hinted at the innate virtuosity of animate flowers. Artists could glorify an expansive color palette which reflected life’s infinite variety and emphasized an explosive riot of colors bursts.

Gardens like Ceilia Thaxter’s (Appledore Island, Maine), provided a wealthy subject for artists like Childe Hassum, who was a regular visitor to Thaxter’s seaside garden.

Childe Hassam, Celia Thaxter's Garden, Appledore, Isles of Shoals, NYBG Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Childe Hassam, ‘Celia Thaxter’s Garden, Appledore, Isles of Shoals’ (1890), NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Floral show at the NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

He painted in plein air and enjoyed the luminosity of the sunlight bouncing off the alternate churning ocean waves and smooth glassine waters. Thaxter was a poet, writer, gardener and quasi-horticulturalist whose informal summer artist colony was frequented by renowned romantic/abolitionist/regional writers (i.e. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, Sarah Orne Jewett), and painters (William Morris Hunt and Childe Hassum), both of whom painted her and her colorful botanical evolutions.

Thaxter’s grounds, like other artist/gardeners of the period made sure her beds  were replete with quaint and strikingly picturesque old-fashioned floral favorites of grandma’s “thrown-together” garden.

Through various seasons, these might include spiking blooms of phlox, hollyhock, lupines, piquant snap dragons and pointed delphiniums, the popular, tasty sweet peas, puff-ball hydrangeas, carpeting forget-me-nots, bachelor buttons and sweet-faced violas, that ran like pixies up to the edge of porches and backdoors and nooks and crannies.

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Iris at the NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Iris planted by the cottage at the NYBG exhibit, ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

And in corners blue and yellow iris might appear to their finest advantage. From spring to fall, an exquisite luxuriance of flowers blossomed. Examples of these species may currently be seen blooming in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory floral showcase.

These widely planted varieties along with roses, peonies, cleomes (spider flowers), baby’s breath, cosmos, strawflowers, poppies, and golden tickweed at various times of spring and summer months flourished in wide swaths of varicolored beds planted to imbue a non-formal seemingly random outgrowth. Conscious gardeners intentioned the appearance of  helter skelter, profuse arrangements, as if the plants themselves decided which spots suited them best and plopped there unceremoniously to stretch out and take the sun and rain with ease.

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

American gardens at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG exhibit, ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Country cottage at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

Attention was given to colonial revivalist styles where gardens were utilitarian, intimate and incorporated the lifestyle arrangements of the family so that the matron of the house, for example, could fling open the backdoor and pick the heavenly scented lavender to create sachets or go to the side of the house to pick peonies for a table arrangement.

Beginning with inspiration from the artists whose adoration of vintage gardens as a throwback to a more gentile and nostalgic time, Guest Curator Linda S. Ferber applied her expertise to investigate seminal works, some known, some from less renowned American impressionists.

Poppies and sunflowers at the NYBG's 'Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.' Photo Carole Di Tosti

Poppies and sunflowers at the NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo Carole Di Tosti

Strawflower, hot bikini, NYBG, Impressionism American Gardens on Canvas

Strawflower ‘hot bikini’ at the NYBG’s ‘Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas.’ Photo, Carole Di Tosti

From the guest curator’s selections which included one formal garden, the predominance of works encompassed the artistic loveliness of dooryard gardens of homes in various locales in the East, some in Pennsylvania and Maine and some in the Hamptons, New York which picture grey shingled houses festooned by splashes of variegated hued plants.

The various works then provided the creative heart for Francisca Coelho and the horticultural staff to gain their inspiration and provide the doorway into recreating a three season garden encapsulating the style, elegant simplicity and peace-filled homey comfort these American gardens exuded.

Their splendid result abides in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory even to the recreation of the grey clapboard, white shuttered country cottage that one would adore living in to escape the frenetic pace of the city. The cottage has a porch with rocking chairs and if you sit in one and look out on the hollyhocks, foxgloves, delphiniums, sweet peas, beauteous painted tongue and all the flowers previously mentioned here (you need to take an up close and personal view to catch them all), you will exhale a deep breath and allow the fragrances and mystical plenitude of nature to incite your senses and move you to a peaceful sense of well being.

This splendid exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens runs from May 14th through September 11, 2016. To purchase tickets and check programming for the event and throughout the summer click the website HERE.

A facsimile of this article appears on Blogcritics at this site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Million Daffodils, Celebrating NYBG’s 125 Anniversary

NYBG, 125th Anniversary NYBG, one million daffodials initiative

Project 1 million daffodils at the NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The past week and one-half has been deary, cloudy and rainy as the cold front lingered. However, the week before, Earth Day weekend festivities at the NYBG sported good weather. The sun peeked out and it was warmer from noon on, just in time to appreciate the daffodil blooms at their height as well as the wine tastings and  interesting wine and distilled spirit selections from upstate and around the city (The City Winery).

NYBG, Daffodil initiative

NYBG planters with the colors of spring, daffodils and violets. Photo, Carole Di Tosti

To celebrate the 126th anniversary, the NYBG is planting 1,000,000 daffodils and I had the opportunity of seeing their initial efforts which began with the expansion of the historic Narcissus collection at Daffodil Hill where staff planted 150,000 bulbs in October 2015.

On that Earth Day Daffodil Sunday, walking the by-ways past the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden into the farther reaches where I had never gone before, the daffodils were in heady bloom along with the flowering cherries and other blooming trees.

NYBG, one million daffodil project

            NYBG one million daffodil initiative. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

It was spectacular. I was glad that I arrived earlier in the day because I knew the crowds would be thick as they meandered with drinks and cameras in hand stopping for photos or sitting on the grassy areas in the sun to enjoy the wine and light snacks that were available for purchase.

NYBG, the one million daffodil initiative, 125th Annerversary Celebration

                            Daffodils and flowering cherry trees at the NYBG.

The initial planting is now on the increase and over the next six years, staff, volunteers and members will be adding more plantings (in the tens of thousands), each year in October until that magical number is reached. British romantic poet William Wordsworth wrote about the spiritual renewal we feel through nature’s beauty.

one million daffodil project, NYBG

NYBG daffodils part of the ongoing 1 million daffodils project over the next 5 years. Photo Carole Di Tosti

In a famous poem of his, “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud,” the narrator/Wordsworth discusses his feeling disconsolate and alone as he took long walks seeking to be uplifting in his soul. But it was only when he came across a dazzling array of golden of daffodils that stretched as far as his eyes could see, that his heart and spirits regenerated.  And whenever those downcast feelings would arise, he had only to see “in his mind’s eye” that vision of the joyful daffodils “dancing in the breeze” to become restored to a state of balance and contentment.

NYBG, Daffodil Hill

NYBG near Daffodil Hill. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

When this daffodil initiative is completed in the next years our experience will recall Wordsworth’s. It will be breathtaking  to see daffodils that span the lawns and Daffodil Hill in a great swath of yellow, gold, tricolor and cream yellow in a multitude of varieties. After the project is completed in a few years, for those who visit Daffodil Hill at the NYBG, as they look in the distance and turn around in every direction, they will see daffodils, thick and lush in the landscape, smiling and dancing in the breeze. Like Wordsworth it will be a picture that one can recall to remembrance in the heft of winter as a heavenly uplift that spring is on its way.

The pictures that follow represent the initial stages of the one million daffodil project. Daffodils which symbolize rebirth and are known elsewhere as the “Lent Lilly” because they grow and burgeon during Lent are a lovely choice to recognize and appreciate the NYBG’s 125th year in the Bronx.

NYBG, Daffodil Hill, one million daffodil initiative

Flowering cherry tree at the NYBG near Daffodil Hill. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Daffodil Hill

 NYBG near Daffodil Hill. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, one million daffodil initiative

 NYBG, Daffodil Hill, one million daffodil initiative. Photo, Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Daffodil Hill

 NYBG Daffodil Hill, one million daffodil initiative. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, 125th Anniversary, one million daffodil initiative

 NYBG, Daffodil Hill, one million daffodil initiative. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, 125th Anniversary, Daffodil Weekend, one million daffodil initiative

Along the wine tasting trail at the NYBG, 125th Anniversary Celebration and Daffodil weekend. Photo, Carole Di Tosti

The wineries who displayed their selections at the NYBG were from upstate New York. Some are featured below and their websites are listed if you click on the name:  PALAIA WINERY.

NYBG Wine Tasting at the 125th Anniversary Celebration during Daffodil weekend. Photo, Carole Di Tosti

NYBG Wine Tasting at the 125th Anniversary Celebration during Daffodil weekend. Featured are Palaia Winery wines.  Photo by Carole Di Tosti

BRIMSTONE HILL WINERY

NYBG,

NYBG Wine Tasting at the 125th Anniversary Celebration of the one million daffodil initiative. Featured are wines from Brimstone Hill Winery. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

WARWICK VALLEY WINERY & DISTILLERY

NYBG Wine Tasting, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, one million daffodil initiative, 125th Anniversary

NYBG Wine Tasting and 125th Anniversary Celebration with the one million daffodil initiative. Featured wines by Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. Photo by Carole Di Tosti.

 

NYBG Wine Tasting, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery (Black Dirt Distillery). Photo, Carole Di Tosti

NYBG Wine Tasting, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery (Black Dirt Distillery). Photo, Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Daffodil initiative, 125th Anniversary

More daffodils at the NYBG one million daffodil initiative. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The NYBG is offering an opportunity to become a part of the legacy. A contribution of $25.00 will support the planting of five daffodil bulbs that will be contribute to the one million daffodil display in the next few years. Gifts can be made in honor or memory of a loved one and the family member or honoree may be notified of your thoughtful gift with a card. To make a gift, be a part of the one million daffodil initiative or learn about other dedication opportunities call Lisa Sifre at 718-817-8545 or e-mail daffodils@nybg.org. Or visit million-daffodils.nybg.org

Earth Day & Weekend Celebrations at the New York Botanical Garden, April 22-24

NYBG, springtime, Earth Day Weekend-April 22-24 2016

NYBG flowering trees beginning to blossom. Photo Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Earth Day celebration April 22-24, 2016

Violets are blooming at the NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

It is dismal, cold, damp weather and Punxsutawney Phil has committed suicide because of his incorrect prognostications of an early Spring! So went a humorous Facebook post I saw yesterday with a picture of a dead groundhog with a gun lying across his chest. Well, Spring has come despite the rainy, chilly bleakness. But at the New York Botanical Garden nature is thrilled. The Garden is manifesting its beauty, despite the less than sunny conditions.

All through the Spring and summer months, the various sections of the Garden will be radiant in their finest of blooms: the rose garden, the lily ponds and more. Interspersed here and there to match the outdoor beauty, the conservatory exhibits will sport more magnificent floral theater centered around various themes. Throughout the year the Garden is always vibrant with the flavors, sights and sounds of natural horticultural beauty. Some feel the fall retains the most vibrant pageantry of all the seasons.

NYBG, Earth Day Celebration-April 22-24, 2016

Tulips at the NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

NYBG, Earth Day weekend April 22-24, 2016

Vibrant tulips at NYBG. Photo Carole Di Tosti

A celebration that represents something we all should lift up is recognition of the planet that nurtures us. Earth Day is upon us and the NYBG is commemorating with three days of activities. Perhaps the the finest, most reckoning event is on Earth Day (Friday, April 22nd). Earth Day, a national event with parades and festivals, is the underappreciated and understated day that is relevant to our lives and those of our posterity.

To recognize its importance, on Friday, the Garden will be screening Seeds of Time. Directed by Sandy McLeod, the film is a compelling documentary about global agriculture, the increasing difficulties facing the world’s food supply and the seeds that must be stored for future generations.

Daffodils, NYBG, Earth Day Celebrations, April 22-24, 2016

Daffodils are blooming at the NYBG. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Hopefully, these seeds will not be hybrids or Monsanto tweaked seeds, but will be heirloom seeds that can be planted for lifetimes.

If you stay after the screening, you will be able to enjoy a discussion and Q and A by CaryFowler, Senior Advisor of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and the Academy Award-nominated director of Seeds of Time, Sandy McLeod. Both will be discussing how agriculture, unless it is rethought and redirected will not be able to supply the world with food unless there are sustainable practices. Both will discuss the vital issues the filmmaker raises in the film.

Orange colored violets in containers at the NYBG. Celebrating Earth Day Events April 22-24, 2016. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Container plantings at the NYBG. April 22-24, 2016. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Barring inclement weather, Saturday and Sunday, April 23 & 24, the Botanical Garden is showing off her splendor in a panoply of spectacular spring blooms Along the paths and the beds throughout the Garden, the 150,000 daffodil bulbs planted in November 2015 will be bursting with joyful glory and unmistakable fragrance.

If you are familiar with William Wordsworth’s poem, “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” you will remember how Wordsworth, a romantic poet, uplifted nature to stave off the growing industrialization and mechanization of the factories which dehumanized, and brutalized city life. The romantics believed that through the spiritual aspects of nature man could be restored. The opening lines of Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” begin:

daffodils, NYBG, Earth Day Celebrations April 22-24

Daffodils, some of the 150,000 bulbs planted last fall at the NYBG. Photo Carole Di Tosti

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance

Daffodils are a joyful harbinger of warmer weather and Wordsworth commented that their wealth of beauty lasted with him long after he left that location. All he had to do was remember in his mind’s eye their lovely happiness and he was spiritually refreshed.

Well, this weekend will offer not only spiritual rest and peace the Garden brings to rejuvenate one’s soul to face Monday, but there will be liquid refreshment, a wine tasting against the amazing backdrop of the Garden’s blooming trees and sprightly flowers.  New York State vintners will offer palate-pleasing local wines while experts on winemaking and viticulture will host demonstrations and presentations all weekend long.

For the full media alerts, go to:

Seeds of Time screening (Friday, April 22):
http://www.nybg.org/files/EarthDay2016MEDIAALERT.pdf

Daffodil Celebration & Wine Weekend (Saturday and Sunday, April 23 & 24):
http://www.nybg.org/files/pr/Daffodil_Wine_Weekend_2016_Media_Alert.pdf

The Earth Day weekend promises to be a memorable one. What better way to celebrate Spring, the 125 Anniversary of the NYBG and the sustenance and sustainability of our planet?

NYBG Orchidelirium: The Victorians’ Obessession for Orchids and Profits

IMG_3446-001

Phalaenopsis at NYBG Orchidelirium Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Phalaenopsis orchids, the most ubiquitous of flowers, hardly garner a second glance when we stroll by the myriad colored hybrids that adorn restaurants, homes, offices, and flower sections of grocery stores.

IMG_3232

Opsistylis Mem. Mary Nattrass NYBG Orchidelirium Photo by Carole Di Tosti

 

However, in 19th century Victorian England, if you had orchids in your parlour, you were most probably a member of the upper class. Orchids were a costly rarity, and for much of the 19th century, these plant gems remained in the domain of aristocrats, whose adoration of spectacular orchid originals epitomized the genteel display of power, status, and luxury.

20160226_105420

Phalaenopsis I-Hsin Sun Beauty at NYBG Orchidelirium  Photo by Carole Di Tosti

In celebration of those passionate Victorians whose obsessions spawned perilous journeys and whose collectors’ cultivations helped to transform the field of plant research, propagation, and conservation, this year’s theme of the NYBG Orchid Show, is “Orchidelirium.”  Representative of all that is exceptional and dynamic about this monumental flowering plant family Orchidaceae (over 30,000 naturally occurring species from tiny to large, with over 150,000 man-made hybrids), NYBG “Orchidelirium” in its intense visual design and intriguing tour layout circumscribes the trending mania that burst onto the scene in Victorian England. The exhibition highlights the finest and most innovative creative impulses of the time and recalls some of the most nefarious of human activity before profiteering, exploitation, and habitat destruction became the anathema they are today.IMG_3048

Marc Hachadourian (NYBG orchid curator) holding the beloved Psychopsis papilio that whetted the Duke of Devonshire’s obsession for more rare beauties. Photo: Carole Di Tosti

The euphoria began when the Duke of Devonshire fixated upon a dazzling, most singular orchid, Psychopsis papilio. Enchanted, he lusted for more “living jewels” and commissioned explorers to travel the continents and bring back obscure treasures. They did. His addiction grew. Word spread. London’s upper class’ fanaticism was set ablaze, and the orchid craze catapulted into hyper-drive.

IMG_3063

Close up of the Psychopsis papilio that started orchid mania and determined the  British Duke of Devonshire to amass the largest private orchid collection in the world at his Chatsworth House estate in Derbyshire which you can visit today. Photo Carole Di Tosti

The Duke’s head gardener Joseph Paxton revolutionized greenhouse design and orchid cultivation for the Duke whose expanding collection (eventually his greenhouses were over an acre under glass), inspired his wealthy friends to also display their unrivaled orchid prizes. Soon hundreds of adventurers were commissioned to travel on the high seas and bring back all the obscure, unparalleled beauties they could find. In 10 years the Duke possessed the largest private orchid collection in the world centered at his Chatsworth House estate. The grandiloquent gardens, greenhouses, and impressive buildings in Derbyshire, which recall the wealth and splendiferous  grounds of Mr. Darcy’s estate in Pride and Prejudice, are worth the visit if you are traveling to the UK.

20160226_113919Fragrant Dancing Ladies Orchid, Oncidium, Rosy Sunset ‘F’  NYBG Orchidelirium. The oncidium orchids carry a lovely fragrance of roses or chocolate. Photo:  Carole Di Tosti

 

 

IMG_3189

Miltoniopsis Herralexandre (pansy orchid) NYBG Orchidelirium Photo:Carole Di Tosti

Our love of orchids has been tempered with an ethical imperative about conservation and preservation of habitats that was absent back in the time of the exploitative, predatory Victorians. Throughout, this prodigious show highlights the extent of the Victorians’ often piratical obsession, not only through its exquisite, floral pageantry but by showcasing the historical artifacts, books, pictures, narratives that adorn the pathways where the lusciously fragrant Oncidium Rosy Sunset ‘F’ orchids dance (they smell like chocolate), and the Miltoniopsis Herralexandre (pansy orchids) charm with their smiling faces that bloom with scintillating color. The narrative discloses “movers and shakers like Benedikt Roezl, the “Prince of Orchid Hunters,” who was the most famous and successful orchid collector of the era.

20160225_105134

Featured display introducing Orchidelirium in the Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool.  Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The exhibition is breathtaking in its conceptualization, scope, design, and presentation. It is partly conceived as an expeditionary journey that snakes through the greenhouse galleries and suggests the diversified habitats that recall the various continents spanning rain forests, mountains, and deserts (orchids live in all continents with the exception of Antarctica), where orchids luxuriate. One first enters the conservatory’s Palms of the World Gallery Reflecting Pool and is struck by the explosion of whites,  fuscias, variegated roses, pinks, and maroons of reigning Phalaenopsis which cascade dripping Spanish moss from elevated dispositions in the trees. The featured display symbolizes how far orchid cultivation has come from hunters poaching species in the wild to the massive hybridization and cultivation of Orchidaceae it is today.

IMG_3191

Oncidium Irish Mist ‘Big Hot Sun’ Photo by Carole Di Tosti

IMG_3176

Bratonia Kaui’s Choice-note the long petals. NYBG Orchidelirium Photo by Carole Di Tosti

IMG_3184

Vanilla orchid not in bloom, pods visible. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Around each turn is the unusual, like the vanilla orchid whose pods are not beans and which is the only orchid of natural economic value from which we derive all our vanilla flavoring. According to Marc Hachadourian who walked with us along the orchid trail, the vanilla seed pod of the orchid is what is taken, dried and cured and as a result of that curing process or fermentation, that’s where natural vanilla comes from.  So the Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla which is the real vanilla extract, comes from the seed pod of an orchid. Marc referred to the black flecs in Vanilla Haagen dazs ice cream which are from the vanilla orchid seed pod. “You see, you’ve been eating orchids your entire life and didn’t know it.”

As we move along the trail, Marc informs us of the tremendous diversity of orchids which are highly adaptable to all terrains and climates and are the reason why researchers use them in their plant studies. Along the pathway through the galleries that mimic the various terrains where orchids grow, you will encounter the desert orchid Eulophia Petersii.

IMG_3227

Photo of desert orchid in bloom in the NYBG desert gallery. Photo of photo by Carole Di Tosti

20160226_103311-001The Desert Orchid Eulophia Pettrsii has adapted to the terrain in that has stems like the swollen stems of a cactus and it has a defense; the edges of the leaves which are like a saw, may cut you. Orchids adapt to every location in the world but Antarctica.

There is also a display case filled with orchid miniatures and valuable, rare orchids from the NYBG’s permanent collection. Within the case is a yellow orchid from Southeast Asia that has the fragrance of horse manure, a scent irresistible to its fly pollinators. As he walked with us Marc Hachadourian discussed that he even  had equestrians test it and verify the scent. According to Marc, “It’s one of the things that orchids are known for, the really bizarre pollination biology sort of verging on science and science fiction.

20160225_113812

The Bulbophyllum orchid smells like horse manure fragrant to its fly pollinators. This may be found in the permanent orchid collection ,NYBG Orchidelirium. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The winding trails of the rainforest gallery recall the thick jungles of an earlier time when thousands of undiscovered orchid species proliferated with abandon. Their abundance was staggering. It exists no longer, having fallen prey to wasteful plunderers. Stop to read the story synopses of collectors and nurserymen and see how the orchid hunters lived while under threat of tropical diseases (malaria, yellow fever, blackwater fever), big jungle cats, and other predatory animals. Historically recorded are some of the most dastardly examples of plant exploitation, cupidity, and habitat destruction, encouraged by the likes of self-proclaimed “Orchid King” Henry Frederick Conrad Sander.

IMG_3069

On the orchid trail with Marc Hachadourian who points out the typical shelter of an orchid hunter at NYBG Orchidelirium. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Sander sent out twenty explorers at a time to South and Central America, India, Burma, etc., all in the name of possessing, monopolizing, propagating, and monetizing the most inimitable specimens. The collector amassed a fortune, grew between 1 and 2 million orchid plants in his nurseries, and was named Royal Orchid Grower to Queen Victoria. The NYBG bought orchids from Sander. One of them, a Vandopsis gigantea purchased in 1904 and on display, is almost as old as the NYBG which is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year. The Vandopsis gigantea is in its 112th year.

Behind the scenes of the splendid  faerie blooms imperiously showcased in sedate upper class English parlours and Joseph Paxton designed conservatories (his greenhouse innovations influenced the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory design), lurked venality, bellicosity and coldblooded aggression. The orchid wilds were foreboding territories of mayhem and murder. Avaricious collectors like Sander and his competitors (Dr. John Lowe, Beechers, Veitch & Sons), hired ruthless, cutthroats to seek and discover peerless finds that would yield a veritable king’s ransom ($100,000 and more in today’s currency for a single orchid). If they could destroy their rivals’ orchid specimens, urinate on them, burn down forest habitats, cut down trees (4000 were cut during an expedition), throw competitors “off the scent” of a particularly stupendous find by slyly redirecting them, and generally assure their orchid bosses’ exclusivity in nature’s masterpieces, they succeeded. That was the “game of orchids.”

IMG_3201-001

The interior of the hut with the implements the orchid hunter used including the Wardian Case found on the orchid trail NYBG Orchidelirium. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Along the garden tour is placed an orchid hunter’s grass hut. Inside, along with examples of his tools and implements, is his Wardian Case (an early terrarium), where he would create a kind of micro-climate for his orchids’ preservation on the long journey home. Wardian Cases were also used to display orchids. A few in this exhibition display delicate orchid miniatures.

IMG_3205

Photo of a sketch/photo of Benedikt Roezl, “Prince of Orchid Hunters,” an intrepid gardener, horticulturalist and orchid collector who discovered 800 different species of orchids. NYBG Orchidelirium Photo by Carole Di Tosti

The life of the orchid explorer was arduous and death-defying at every turn. One can review chronicles of those who drowned in the Orinoco (William Arnold), were attacked or mauled by jaguars and tigers, were felled by dysentery (Gustav Wallis), or yellow fever (Frantisek Klaboch), or robbed 17 times at gun or knifepoint (Benedikt Roezl). There were many who simply didn’t return. (David Burke, a Veitch hunter was murdered as many probably were). Indeed, though these brazen, plunderers might fiercely fight with spear, gun or knife, they were duty bound to come back alive with their “booty.” If they killed a rival or indigenous peoples to preserve their stash? Well…

Susan Orlean’s John Larouche of The Orchid Thief and the posse of Seminoles who were arrested in 1994 for poaching the ghost orchid from Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve are pussy cats in comparison to the wanton, fortune hunting Victorians. They were not constrained by any laws except the laws of the jungle, where only the fittest survived to plunder the precious rarities that had never been discovered before.

IMG_3222

Rare orchid in the glass display case as part of the permanent collection. NYBG Orchidelirium   Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Is it any wonder that Charles Darwin, Victorian contemporary and “fantastic observational botanist” (quote from Marc Hachadourian NYBG orchid curator), who was all too familiar with the rapacious frenzy of orchid collectors and the lurid stories of explorers’ dire misfortunes in jungles, high plains, mountains, and plateaus, that the notion of predatory survival in nature spoke to his heart and perhaps added weight to his evolutionary theories?There is a nod to Darwin as an aficionado of orchids with a marvelous explanation and illustrations of an ingenious discovery Darwin intuited about the Darwin Star Orchid and its pollinator that you can see on your way through the galleries.

IMG_3236

Paphiopedilum (lady slippers) and Nepenthes (pitcher plants) in a gallery before the final exhibition centerpiece. NYBG Orchidelirium Photo: Carole Di Tosti

In the gallery just before reaching the finale you will find an interesting display of the unusual that Christian Primeau (see previous articles on this site) designer of Orchidelirium really enjoy: Paphiopedilum and Nepenthes which also can be found in the centerpiece where they are quietly tucked in and create uniqueness and an innovative touch to the usual gorgeous and brilliant displays.

20160225_114753-002

A view of the orchid mountain from the previous gallery. NYBG Orchidelirium Photo by Carole Di Tosti

On the final expeditionary leg one reaches the centerpiece of the exhibition, and the apotheosis of Victorian orchid frenzy, a 360 degree supernal, floral prominence rising over 8 feet tall in glittering, vivid technicolor. This otherwordly mountain is awash with orchids of varying species, Phalaenopsis, Oncidopsis, Oncostele, Oncidium, Vandas, Paphiopedilum (lady slippers). The hundreds of orchids vibrate a multitude of colors-fuscias, yellows, variegated pinks, roses, tricolors, whites, pale yellows, maroons, and more.

IMG_3286

Another view of the orchid mountain with waterfall at the far side NYBG Orchidelirium Photo: Carole Di Tosti

They are a massive profusion, with smaller, quiet vignettes of orchids here and there on rocks clinging as orchids do. This splendid proliferation evokes what orchid hunters may have seen  at the dawn of their exploration before the craze was underway and many had been ripped from their centuries old habitats. Jewels, they drape the mountain and create its texture rising up to the summit, sported by staghorn ferns and weird hanging Nepenthes (pitcher plants). Paphiopedilum, sit on rocks at the bottom of the two waterfalls planted with striking orange blooming bromeliads and Tacca chantrieri (black bat flowers) luxuriating in the water shallows.
IMG_3082

Another view of the mountain NYBG Orchidelirium Photo: Carole Di Tosti

Christian Primeau, the designer of the exhibition, was inspired into the mountain creation by an engraving of James Bateman’s (Victorian horticulturist and collector), naturalistic display in a conservatory at his country mansion, Knypersley Hall. The illustration appears in a two volume tome commissioned by James Bateman, The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala, (1843).
IMG_3273

A studied vignette of the mountain with Bromeliads and Phalaenopsis NYBG Orchidelirium. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

This  mountain created with volcanic rock, steel cubes, and chicken wire with a secret door to water the plants from the inside is “an homage” (Primeau’s words), to those who have gone before…to the avid collectors who endured the wrath of indigenous peoples, poisonous serpents, insects the size of birds, predatory animals, and murderous rivals in their exploits to scour unknown terrain, even lava-spewing volcanoes (Roezl did this), for the most exquisite and valuable of Orchidaceae. Despite the negatives, we have the Victorians to thank for their remarkable finds and innovations in cultivation and propagation.

20160226_113221

Illustration of a potting bench with a variety of orchids one might find in an orchid collector’s greenhouse. NYBG Orchidelirium Photo: Carole Di Tosti

Victorian Orchidelirium gave birth to the billion dollar orchid industry that abides today. It even gave rise to the New York Botanical Garden’s ornate Victorian Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its missions of research, preservation and protection of orchid species and hundreds of other plants that are becoming extinct because of illegal poaching, habitat destruction and climate change. With every delicate bloom, every fern, every pitcher plant, “Orchidelirium” is a bedazzling, live horticultural spectacular, a sterling exhibition to celebrate the NYBG’s 125 Anniversary.

The NYBG Orchid Show 2016 concludes April 17th.  Check the Garden website for details about Orchid Evenings on Saturdays (March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 16), as well as Friday (April 15), and Thursday (March 24, LGBT night). On select evenings visitors can also upgrade to V.I.P. status and enjoy an Orchid Lounge.

A shorter version of this article appeared on Blogcritics.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: