The New York Botanical Garden's annual Orchid Show has been showcasing thousands of orchid plants, featuring 100-120 different varieties, since March 3 (it closes April 22). The installations, designed this year by Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost, are stunning and dramatic but still intimate enough to tempt visitors to get close. So we had to ask: Does anyone ever try to steal the orchids, John Laroche-style?
"Even if someone was to be overcome with the desire to take a plant from the exhibition, our visitors are very respectful in their admiration of the plants," Marc Hachadourian, Director of the Nolen Greenhouses at the NYBG, explained to us. "Occasionally they might get a little overenthusiastic about their appreciation and accidentally damage a flower here and there, but there is no great theft to speak of. The installation process has the plants securely held in place, and even if they wanted to, it would be difficult to remove any of the plants without a significant effort."
One of the dramatic installations by Daniel Ost, during an Orchid Evening, at the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show (NYBG)
Plants that get damaged do not remain in exhibits for long: Hachadourian noted that there's a "constant grooming and replacement of plants in the exhibition to make sure that the displayed plants are looking their best at all times. As orchids fade, they are replaced by new plants and the old ones, as long as they are healthy and strong, are often brought back to the greenhouses to be added to the permanent collections or grown on for the future."
One of the elaborate displays at this year's Orchid Show involves clear tubing, which is a reference to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory's glass and water, woven with flowers. "The tubing helps reflect and refract light, allowing it to move through to showcase the colors and patterns of the orchid plants," Hachadourian said. "It gives us a network of supports that create visual movement and a place for the orchids to be displayed in and upon. In the evening, the installation especially shows off the design intent helping to soften and enhance the lighting effects in the exhibition. The tubing will be de-installed, reused, and recycled at the end of the exhibition."
One of the orchids on display (NYBG)
For those inspired to own their own orchids but fret about their dark NYC apartments, have faith. Hachadourian encouraged, "Many orchids such as Paphiopedilums and Phalaenopsis are perfect for New York City apartments as they are both varieties that do well in lower light conditions. If you truly have almost no light, many orchids will also grow and bloom well under artificial LED or plant lights. Indoor light growing technology has now become more available. Complex and expensive equipment is not necessary to have the plants thrive."
The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden closes on April 22. There are a number of Orchid Show programs, Orchid Evenings, and an Earth Day celebration. The NBYG is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.
This was previously published on the Gothamist newsletter on April 13, 2018. Don't miss stories—sign up for our newsletter here.