2008 Orchid Show
February 2 through March 16, 2008
The Missouri Botanical Garden's annual orchid show in warm, luscious full bloom is a six-week sensual delight for winter-weary Midwesterners. See up to 800 fragrant beauties at once from one of the world's premier collections throughout the floral display hall.
This year's Storybook Classics theme presents the orchids in scenes inspired by Johnny Appleseed, Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Rabbit and The Secret Garden. "Our exhibit theme this year is more whimsical in its presentation, but always with a botanical connection," said designer Pat Scace.
Johnny Appleseed (real name: John Chapman) was a legendary nurseryman who grew, planted and supplied American pioneers with apple trees for 50 years in the early 19th century. The Secret Garden, first published in 1909 by English novelist Frances Hodgson Burnett, tells how a young girl's discovery and restoration of a hidden garden eventually changed several lives. Peter Rabbit appears in many of author Beatrix Potter's children's books, munching on vegetables from neighbor Mr. McGregor's garden. Jack and the Beanstalk is an English fairy tale about a curious boy, some magic beans, and an angry giant.
Behind the scenes at the Garden, 8,100-plus orchids grow in carefully climate-controlled greenhouses called the orchid range. Winter bloomers comprise 60 to 70 percent of the collection, which concentrates on plants that can tolerate St. Louis's summers and temperature extremes. Babs Wagner, the Garden's orchid grower for 12 years, reports that the weather of 2007 is showing an effect. "I'm already seeing orchid blooms that are either delayed or early, and I'm attributing that to our weird weather," said Wagner. The collection is a work-in-progress that grows and changes as orchids are acquired through purchase, trade with growers, and donations. A sizable gift of Vandas was received late last year, some of which may make their orchid show debut in 2008.
Visitors who return throughout the six-week show may notice subtle changes from week to week as fresh blooms are added. “We start out with about 800 orchids in the show,” says Babs Wagner, “and I switch out approximately 100 per week to get as much diversity as possible.” Wagner expertly juggles temperatures in the greenhouse orchid range starting in the fall to force early blooming or to delay blooms for the show. The horticulture division's greenhouse and floral display staff and a busy group of volunteers plan and prepare for the show months in advance.
The show opens Feb. 2 and continues daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through
Photographers are welcome, but please use a hand-held camera only; tripods and monopods are not allowed indoors.
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