Thousands of orchids and other plants will be on display for six weeks beginning Oct. 12 during, “The Orchid Show: Earth, Air, Fire, Water”
Here’s the truth: Orchids are found on six of the world’s seven continents. They grow from sea level to above the treeline and in a variety of terrains. Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Some only bloom after a fire. So much for the theory that orchids are difficult plants to grow.
“Orchids do need to be taken care of, but really they just need to be put in the right environment and then mostly left alone,” said Angel Lara, Director of Glass Houses at Selby Gardens and designer of the botanical garden’s upcoming orchid exhibition.
“The Orchid Show: Earth, Air, Fire, Water” opens Oct. 12 and celebrates the diversity of the largest family of flowering plants on the planet through dramatic horticultural displays.
For those who haven’t successfully kept an orchid alive and are skeptical of any type of “easy care” designation of the plants, they can visit Selby Gardens during the exhibition to see the variety of orchids that grow throughout the world in dramatic displays. A range of classes and special events accompany the show, which runs through Thanksgiving weekend.
“Orchids grow in all types of environments and during the show guests will experience displays that evoke rocky terrains, wind-blown steppes, moist rainforests and sun-soaked locales,” Lara said.
Some very rare orchids that are part of Selby Gardens’ research collection will be part of the living displays. The institution is regarded worldwide for its leadership in orchid research over the past 42 years of existence. Botanists from the Gardens travel each year, primarily throughout the tropics of the western hemisphere, discovering new plants for future conservation and plant science research. This exhibition grants plant enthusiasts a glimpse into Selby Gardens’ research vault to see orchids they wouldn’t commonly encounter.
Bruce Holst, Selby Gardens’ director of botany, has collected numerous orchids while traveling during his 23-year history on staff. While the addition of GPS and radio communication has made travels easier, Holst and his colleagues searching remote regions for new plants still encounter swollen rivers, deep ravines and wild animals much like their predecessors did when the first European explorers began searching in earnest for orchids in the early 1700s.
“Orchid exploration sounds glamorous, especially when you see the plants in bloom in a conservatory setting,” Holst said. “Most of it, though, is very hard work done in the name of science.”
Stories of orchid discovery past and present will accompany the horticultural display in Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts. The museum exhibition, curated by Dr. David Barry, examines the routes botanists traveled to examine orchids in their natural habitats. Complementing the living display, the Museum exhibition will feature the “all stars” of botany who contributed to the “orchid mania” of the 1700s – 1800s. Materials included are an autographed pamphlet of Charles Darwin‘s “Notes on the Fertilization of Orchids” (1869), and a colored lithograph of Stanhopea devoniensis, originally named in honor of the sixth Duke of Devonshire. Also of note will be volumes from Selby Gardens’ complete set of Curtis‘s Botanical Magazine (dating to 1787) and early editions of the work of Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus who developed the system of naming all living organisms.
The Orchid Show: Earth, Air, Fire, Water is presented by Better-Gro. Major support comes from State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, MISH New York, Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues, and Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen. Supporting sponsors include the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation and the Roberta Leventhal Sudakoff Foundation. Additional support comes from Alice W. Rau and the Triad Foundation.
Associated classes in orchid care, potting and photography, lectures, as well as evening cocktail celebrations of all things botanical will be hosted throughout the six-week run. Visit www.selby.org for updated events and classes.
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About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns and other tropical plants with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. For more information, please visit www.selby.org. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas. Regular admission is $20 and $10 children ages 4-17; members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or selby.org. Get social with us on Facebook, Instagram and more by searching @selbygardens.