One of my favorite annual traditions that kind of launches the arrival of spring for me is treating myself to the Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Even if it’s super cold out, or snowing or whatever, the Metro-north train station ($10 round trip from Grand Central) is directly across the street, and the show is inside the gorgeous End A. Haupt Conservatory building, so you cannot even use bad weather as an excuse to not go, unless you are a total pussy. Because, look at this:
The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage at the NYBG is a spectacular display of colors and fragrances that is not to be missed. This year’s show was designed by landscape architect Lily Kwong, who approached the show with a unique perspective.
Kwong’s design for the 20th annual Orchid Show is a stunning fusion of traditional and contemporary styles, with orchids displayed in a variety of creative ways, from hanging baskets to living walls. With over 2,000 varieties of orchids on display, visitors can explore a vibrant and diverse collection of this flowers from around the world, including rare and exotic species that are not commonly seen in the US. Kwong has created a monumental installation, inspired by exploration of her ancestral roots, which trace back generations to Shanghai. The result is a meditation on her deep connections to the natural landscapes and meticulously designed gardens of China.
Complemented by an immersive soundscape created by composer Gary Gunn, the mesmerizing array of thousands of vibrant orchids throughout the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory offers an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between ancestry and nature. By conjuring a landscape that envelops visitors in the embrace of living orchids, which ate the largest plant family, Kwong encourages better stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources.
Did you know that orchids have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries? In designing The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage, Kwong was heavily inspired by her Chinese roots and ancestral connections to nature.
Kwong uses several species of medicinal orchids in the show, such as those in the Dendrobium genus, which are often found in traditional remedies like teas that have long been relied on for their healing properties.
Please enjoy my photos of a selection of the most beautiful orchids from the show!
It may seem upon casual observation that most of the orchids are varying shades of purple or violet, but each one is unique.
See what I mean?
These green tree orchids were spotted above one of the indoor fountains, where everyone stops to snap a photo for Instagram. They are in the same spot every year.
This year I also noticed many orchids in shades red, orange and yellow, which are a fun break from a sea of purple.
If you are an amateur iPhone photographer, let me tell you that shooting Orchids and other flowers is a solid way to bump up your photography skills.
I love this fiery pink one.
I’m calling this one a White Star Orchid, because I don’t know its proper name, but it had one of the more unusually-shaped flowers. Here are two more that were star-shaped, but otherwise radically different from each other.
After a while spent winding through the galleries of the conservatory, it’s a bit dizzying to be surrounded by so much diverse beauty.
One of the surprises of this year’s Orchid Show was the inclusion of a Titan Arum, also known as the Corpse Flower, which I spotted nestled further back in the conservatory. This rare and fascinating flower is notorious for its overpowering stench, which is similar to that of a decaying animal. This plant bloomed just a few days after my visit, for a period of a little over 24 hours. If you missed it, you’re out of luck, but if you’ve never seen a Corpse Flower in bloom, I recommend you add that to your list of must-sees for the wonders of the natural world.
You might recognize the orchid just above from the night of your Prom, as it’s called a Corsage Orchid.
These pitcher orchids always look to me like they are going to start singing, because I have seen too many Disney movies.
“Golden Afternoon,” anyone?
These little orange guys are so pretty.
Overall, the 2023 Orchid Show: Natural Heritage is a visually stunning and thought-provoking event that celebrates the beauty and diversity of the orchid family. While it runs for just 12 more days (through April 23rd) now is the perfect time to visit the New York Botanical Garden, since the peonies, azaleas and cherry blossoms are also starting to bloom, so you will get a lot more bang-for-the buck, as they say. Get all the information you need to plan your visit to the NYBG at This Link!