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The Orchid Show 2021: Aerialists from the Tree Top to the Big Top! (Now on View at Downtown Sarasota campus)

As the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, epiphytes, and tropical plants, Selby Gardens hosts an orchid show each fall focusing on different themes and complimented by a variety of special lectures, classes, and events.

The Orchid Show 2021: Aerialists from the Tree Top to the Big Top!
In collaboration with The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and presented by Better-Gro®
October 9 through November 28, 2021


Image of The Orchid Circus Big Top! Ticket Booth
Selby Gardens’ annual Orchid Show brings together two of Sarasota, Florida’s most renowned legacies —orchids and the circus. Presented in collaboration with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (The Ringling), The Orchid Show 2021: Aerialists from the Tree Top to the Big Top!, is presented by Better-Gro®, celebrates the breathtaking beauty of orchids in tree-top canopies high above the forest floor with the artistry and spectacle of the circus, particularly the aerialists who perform extraordinary feats of human ability high above captivated crowds. Pairing astonishing air plants with amazing aerial acts enables a fascinating exploration of the intersection of nature and entertainment.

The show is deeply rooted in Selby Gardens’ status as possessing the world’s best scientifically documented collection of orchids. As always, the Orchid Show highlights the diversity and richness of the Orchidaceae family, one of the largest families of flowering plants on earth.

The synergy with Sarasota’s extensive circus history fortifies the theme of this year’s show. Once the winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the city remains the home of many circus performers and their families.  In addition to The Ringling, housing the finest circus collections in existence, Sarasota is home to the Circus Arts Conservatory and associated Sailor Circus Academy, the oldest youth circus in America.

Image of The Orchid Circus Big Top! Entrance

The Tropical Conservatory

The display of living plants in the Tropical Conservatory will relate the beauty and diversity of epiphytic orchids to the drama and theatricality of aerial acts, such as wire walkers and trapeze artists. The display will feature an abundance of orchids of bright colors and bold patterns suspended from various heights and suggestive of certain aerial acts, creating a spectacular show.

Image of Vintage Circus Posters in North Gallery

The North Gallery

The north gallery of the Museum of Botany & the Arts will showcase vintage circus posters featuring high-flying circus performers, on loan from the Tibbals Circus Collection at The Ringling.  The posters are some of the finest examples of the art of lithography, which is also well represented among the botanical illustrations housed in Selby Gardens’ Research Library.

Photo of Aerialists with Preserved Orchids in Spirits in South Gallery

The South Gallery

The south gallery will focus on epiphytes, as illustrated through specimens from Selby Gardens’ research collections. The gallery will also highlight attributes of orchids, such as color and pattern, which enable these often-showy plants to “perform” for their respective pollinators.

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