What a difference a year makes. Last February when our art museum hosted an orchid exhibition, I went only because I was starved for flowers, not because I liked orchids. This year it’s different. I’ve been anticipating their return and counting down the days. It opened this weekend and my mom and I went to see them today.
In the span of a year I’ve gone from somewhat despising the orchid family to really liking them. It’s required a lot of exposure and cultivation (pun intended) to learn to appreciate these flowers, but it’s finally happening. This exhibit does such a wonderful job of displaying the orchids in a beautiful way, pairing colors and textures and filling in around the orchids with complementary plants and lots of moss and ferns. And this centerpiece is breathtaking.
It’s three whole rooms packed with orchids and I took lots of photos! One of the things I’ve grown to appreciate about orchids is their incredible variety. The shape, color, texture of the blossoms can be considerably different within subfamilies and these differences are primarily due to intense specification of the orchids for their environment. One of the most unusual orchids on display was Darwin’s orchid.
This specimen is dramatically different from the “typical” orchid. It has elongated petals and sepals that give it more of the appearance of a star than an orchid. Darwin hypothesized that this variety from Madagascar was uniquely specialized for its pollinator. Because of its size, white color, night-scent, and long petals, he postulated that its pollinator was a night creature, most probably a moth. Sure enough, decades later the pollinator was identified as being a moth with a foot-long proboscis! These observations were foundational to the field of science as they focused on the relationships of species and established disciplines of ecology. The more we understand that organisms are dependent on each other in complex interactions, the richer and more diverse our view of the earth becomes.
Orchids reveal their variety in color as well as shape and its easy to appreciate their vibrant hues. The displays were a riot of color ranging from white to bright orange, pale pink to deepest purple, solid or spotted. Above are some lovely coral-colored orchids and they glisten like they are holding rubies inside.
These ruffled beauties were breathtaking as well. Again, the tones of color ranging across these flowers is amazing. Pink centers lighten into white petals. Dark purple flecks across the petals before pooling on the edges. These below were a new variety I don’t recall seeing last year. They’re heavily spotted with various shades of purple with lime green edging about the sepals.
It was inspiring to spend time with the orchids today. I came away with tons of color combinations darting through my thoughts and eager to try to mimic these lovely works of art in my own creations. In the depths of winter, there’s nothing like a display of beautiful flowers to lift the soul and remind one of God’s creativity and love.
Blessings to you,
Orchid hybridizers continue to dazzle us with their endless varieties. I expect it was a truly wonderful showing. Lucky you!
Oh yes, it is fascinating!
Beautiful pictures. I had a similar reaction when I visited Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Garden last February. That was a delightful afternoon.