Need a late winter pick me up? A trip to the annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden in NYC never disappoints. The 2020 exhibit, Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope, is colorful, intricate and not to be missed.
When is the Orchid Show at the NYBG?
When it’s still snowing in March, I get depressed. After a long winter, I’m ready to hose off the patio furniture, pick up flats of pansies at Home Depot and make a decision about whether or not this is the last year I can go sleeveless.
The sure-fire way to beat the winter blues in early spring is a trip to the annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden. Featuring the iconic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the NYBG is home to all good things flora. From February 15 through April 19 visit the annual Orchid Show, a dazzling display of common and exotic varieties. The smell alone is worth the $30 weekend admission.
Highlights of the NYBG Orchid Show
“I want visitors to come away with an unforgettable impression of the color and beauty of orchids.” That was Jeffrey Leatham’s goal in designing the 2020 Annual Orchid Show. Leatham is a noted celebrity floral designer and creative director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris. This year’s exhibit feels very intentional, in a good way. The displays are lush, colorful and repetitive to reflect the kaleidoscope theme.
An Orchid that Smells Like Vanilla?
Old favorites appear at the NYBG Orchid Show too. Pansy orchids echo the shape and color of spring’s more familiar harbingers and showy corsage orchids attract crowds of photographers. I enjoy the muted shades of some of the taupe and mauve specimens. Did you know that the vanilla bean (used to make pure vanilla extract) is the seed pod of the vanilla orchid? Imagine a room that smells like Grandma’s baking but looks like her chintz sofa.
And don’t miss the Darwin Star. Apparently Charles Darwin, after examining a sample of this orchid, insisted that a moth with an extremely long insect tongue must exist in order to pollinate it (think Gene Simmons). Darwin was roundly mocked as no such moth was known to exist in Madagascar, the orchid’s home. Four decades after Darwin’s death, a moth was discovered with brag-worthy tongue proportions supporting the naturalist’s theories.
Special Events During the NYBG Annual Orchid Show
Want a special treat? The New York Botanical Garden is hosting several Orchid Evenings during the run of the Orchid Show. Featuring live music and cocktails, the Orchid Evenings are a unique way to experience the show. And food’s available too from the Bronx Night Market. Admission is $39 and the 2020 Orchid Evening dates are March 14, 20, 21, 27 & 28; April 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. Advance purchase is highly recommended due to the popularity of the event.
The New York Botanical Garden is using the hashtag #plantlove. The vital connection between people and the living world will be a focus of programs, exhibits and displays. One way you can participate is to purchase an orchid. Afraid you’ll kill it? Easy to grow varieties are available. Or attend a workshop to learn more about how to take care of your orchid.
After the Orchid Show: Head to Arthur Avenue
Arthur Avenue (what many consider to be New York’s real Little Italy) is a stone’s throw from the NYBG. A visit for pasta and cannoli is an excellent way to end your day in the Bronx.
Your first stop should be Madonia Bakery for a loaf of seeded Italian bread and some cannoli. If you’re visiting around St. Patty’s Day, don’t forget to pick up Irish soda bread too!
Then, duck into the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. When I visited last March, Fordham students, dressed like leprechauns, were playing green beer pong. I felt a bit like Christopher in the Sopranos episode when he has a near death experience and encounters a bouncer on the other side who tells him he’ll end up in hell, like his father. A bouncer? Apparently hell for an Italian is an Irish bar called The Emerald Piper “where it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Every day. Forever.”
But nothing was bothering David Greco and the gang at Mike’s Deli (Mr. Greco won an eggplant parm throwdown against Bobby Flay). I took home fresh mozzarella, stuffed peppers and a “Paula Deen” – prosciutto, hot sopressata, radicchio, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and truffle butter on focaccia.
Other than the action at the bar, the market was quiet and peaceful. On my way out, I stopped to observe a gentleman rolling cigars by hand. As he picked up each leaf, a wave of earthy scent was released into the air, complimenting the sharp smell of the cheeses hanging nearby.
This morning as I write this, it’s snowing again. Bring it on, Mother Nature. It may be winter on the outside, but I’ve got spring inside.
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