The New York Botanical Garden’s 12th Annual Orchid Show

"The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary," the New York Botanical Garden’s 12th annual exhibition of orchids is open now, in which the dramatic beauty of a flourishing tropical garden combines with vibrant architecture to bring Key West’s charm and ambience to New York. Running through April 21, the exhibition displays a mosaic of thousands of exotic orchids in the Botanical Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, in addition to offering a plethora of orchid and Key West-related programming, including tropical rock and island music performances, a Key West Poetry Walk, and Orchid Evenings.

The New York Botanical Garden’s 12th Annual Orchid Show

The garden evoked in The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary is inspired by a garden originally designed for Susan Henshaw Jones, President of the Museum of the City of New York, and Judge Richard K. Eaton. Landscape architect Raymond Jungles won a Residential Design Award of Honor from the American Society of Landscape Architects for the Jones and Eaton garden in 2005. Francisca Coelho, the Garden’s Vivian and Edward Merrin Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions, is reimagining Jungles’s design for this year’s Orchid Show.

The exhibition is on view in the Conservatory’s Victorian-style glasshouse and includes a magnificent walk through A World of Plants, the Conservatory’s permanent exhibition. Orchids will be highlighted throughout the Palms of the World Gallery, Tropical Rain Forest Galleries, and the Aquatic Plants and Vines Gallery.

In the Seasonal Exhibition Galleries, the centerpiece of The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary features a re-creation of the Jones and Eaton Garden, with a green garden wall and a fountain flowing into a pool with stepping stones. At every angle, soaring angular pergolas and trellises will be enveloped by thousands of brightly colored orchids, including Vanda (rainbow orchids), Dendrobium (cane orchids), and Cymbidium (Asian corsage orchids). The modern angular architectural lines of the garden will lead the visitor to lush displays of flowers, palms, and other plants, including the everglades palm, Bismarck palm, area palm, bottlebrush, variegated mahoe, buttonwood, gumbo limbo, spineless century plant, and Christmas palm. Ferns and bromeliads comprise the beautiful understory of the exhibition.

Sleek geometric details of fountain walls, landing pads, a water garden, and benches blend with the natural look of plants and flowers. The gentle, lulling sound of the fountain adds to the relaxing environment. The pool garden at the lanai contributes a contemporary, modernist touch.

Through exhibition interpretation, The Orchid Show will also explain orchid diversity, “What Makes an Orchid an Orchid”, the history and conservation stories of rare and endangered orchids in the rain forests of the world, and information about Commodore Matthew Perry and the opening of Key West.

Tickets and pricing vary. The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Blvd., in the Bronx.

Photos by Victor Chu