New York Botanical Garden
The nation's largest and only curated orchid
exhibition opened on Saturday, March 5th at the New York Botanical Garden,
showcasing more than 5,000 orchid plants in a Broadway-style setting. "The Orchid Show: On Broadway"
runs through April 25 and features more than 300 species and hybrid orchids from around the world.
For the first time, the setting of the exhibition is designed as a Broadway theater, in order to present the compelling nature of orchids, that includes an orchid stage, highlighting the astonishing variety of these plants in all colors, shapes and sizes.
"It is exciting to me to design this space in a theatrical way. The flowers are like actors on the stage. I provide the framework for the beauty of them," said the garden's Tony award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask.
He and image maker Drew Hodges
showcased thousands of orchids with theater-inspired set pieces at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
There, the proscenium arch of the Walter Kerr Theater and the promenade of the New Amsterdam Theater have been re-created. It is a rare display of the theater of horticulture, starring the divas of the plant world.
The question is, after knowing something about orchids and their cultivation, having actually seen some in the Amazon wild, and some in my mother's wild backyard, what is it about orchids that create passion? Why indeed are they often called the Divas of the plant world? Possible answers emerge if their history is contemplated. The earliest known orchids were from the Mediterranean region, and were named Orchis
-- a reference to the Greek word for testicle, because of the flower's twin oval tubers. These and other orchids have been considered useful in medicine, but the only orchid of Epicurean value is Vanilla planifolia,
the source of vanilla flavoring. This orchid was used by the Aztecs and became known in Europe shortly after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.