published March 12, 2014

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2014 Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden

Text and photos © 2014 Charles Marden Fitch

Pillars of colorful Phalaenopsis hybrids reflect in the palm garden pool reflects to greet visitors entering the Conservatory.

Key West Contemporary is the theme of this years NY Botanical Garden Orchid show which runs through April 21. Inside permanent tropical gardens of the Victorian-style Conservatory Francisca Coelho, NYBG VP of Glasshouses and Exhibitions, has recreated an award-winning Key West Garden packed with orchids.

Throughout the Conservatory orchids are arranged in garden beds with bromeliads, tropical aroids, and other showy flowering plants popular in Key West. Huge blue toned Bismarckia nobilis palms, a species from Madagascar, form bold accents and a support for orchids. Small tropical trees and other palm species are perfect places in the displays for epiphytic orchids, most hung still in pots hidden by clumps of Spanish Moss, the bromeliad Tillandsia usneoides.

Cymbidium Vidar 'Harlequin' in ground bed.
Central to the design is a rendering of the Jones and Eaton Garden, originally designed by Landscape Architect Raymond Jones. A pool reflects orchids clustered on garden walls, tree trunks, trellises, and pergolas. Clumps of potted Oncidium and Phalaenopsis hybrids in bunches of fluffy Spanish moss hide some of the steel grids inside the main conservatory. Cymbidium hybrids are massed in beds throughout the show. Most of the orchids have labels showing correct genus/species and some clone names as do many of the accompanying tropicals.

In the Rain Forest wing many epiphytic orchids are hung from established tropical trees. A walkway continues around the multi-section Conservatory past a water garden and into a dense jungle setting. To one side is a large glass case with climate-controlled environment for assorted compact to miniature orchids. The walkway continues into a sunny dry American desert habitat, then into a bright slightly cool Old World desert planting. Finally the path leads into the dramatic orchid displays with Key West Contemporary gardens. Each of the big habitat sections is behind closed glass doors to preserve specific climates within.

The New York Botanical Garden at 2900 Southern Boulevard is across the road from Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo. Garden hours and show details are found on the website The information telephone is 718-817-8700.

Garden inspired by Landscape Architect Raymond Jungles design for Key West, Florida Jones &
Eaton Garden, recreated for "Key West Contemporary'.

Cymbidium Marie Bashir 'Lamp Lighter' in a garden bed at NYBG 2014
Orchid Show.