NYBG 2017 Orchid Show

Elephant topiaries at the NYBG 2017 Orchid Show

This spring, the 2017 Orchid Show celebrates its 15th year at the New York Botanical Garden with a focus on the the culture, history and of course orchids of Thailand. This southeast Asian country is home to more than 1,200 orchid species, one of the largest and most diverse in the world.

NYBG 2017 Orchid Show Thai pavilion

With its warm and humid climate spanning many ecological zones, a wide variety of orchids have evolved to survive in each region, although most prolific in the cool mountain forests in the north.

Thai pavilion at the NYBG 2017 Orchid ShowThe center dome of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory features the crowning element of the exhibition, a large arched Thai style pavilion covered with hundreds of cascading orchids, shown from front and back above.

Display at the 2017 Orchid Show at the NYBG

NYBG 2017 Orchid Show celebrating Thailand

The tropical displays include not only orchids, but also specimen palm trees and plants with colorful and variegated foliage often seen in Thai gardens.

2017 Orchid Show at the NYBGMany structural elements taken from Thai garden design include bamboo pillars holding a rainbow of colorful flowers, such as Vanda orchids, prized for their enormous and colorful blooms.

Thai spirit house at the NYBG 2017 Orchid ShowSpirit houses are an element often incorporated in many Thai gardens and homes with offerings to encourage phra phum, unseen guardian spirits who protect and ensure good fortune. These miniature buildings might include flowers, fruit, incense, candles and strawberry soda, popular perhaps because the color red is considered lucky.

Thai spirit house at the NYBG 2017 Orchid ShowStraws are provided for the spirits’ convenience. Human and animal figurines as well as dancers are included for entertainment with elephants serving as transportation. These examples, inspired by historic Buddhist temple architecture, were hand-carved by Thai artist Pirot Gitikoon.

Sky Lanterns at the NYBG 2017 Orchid ShowAs you amble through the show, you may notice that the displays are organized in particular numbers. Odd numbers are considered good in Thailand, the luckiest being the number 9. Just count the traditional khom loi (sky lanterns) overhead. “Ceremonies and important events often begin at 9:09 and wedding ceremonies are usually attended by nine monks. In 2003 Thailand’s Transport Minister famously paid nearly $100,000 in a charity auction for a license plate that included the numbers 9999.”

NYBG 2017 Orchid Show Thai Sky Lanterms

Topiaries are an art form popular in Thai homes and gardens so the NYBG has included wonderful elephant forms throughout, animals beloved throughout the Thai nation.

Elephant topiaries at the NYBG 2017 Orchid Show

Covered in dendrobium orchids, they add a playful quality to the lush landscape.

Elephant topiary at the New York Botanical Garden 2017 Orchid Show

On the evening I visited, show sponsor Baccarat had a small installation in a back garden room in keeping with the tropically exotic spirit of the show.

Baccarat at the NYBG 2017 Orchid Show

Baccarat at the NYBG Orchid Show

Every year it seems impossible that the NYBG will find a way to top previous shows. And yet, the 2017 Orchid Show is not only an exquisite display but a wonderful immersion in the rich culture and horticulture of Thailand – a treat for the mind and spirit. Take a trip to the Bronx and you’ll feel transported to a tropical paradise!

Orchid Show at the NYBG

Orchids at the NYBG Orchid Show

2017 Orchid Show

2017 Orchid Show

NYBG 2017 Orchid Show

all photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence

8 thoughts on “NYBG 2017 Orchid Show

  1. YOUR photos are just out of this world!! KUDOS to all that put together this wonderful orchid production for all to enjoy!! franki

  2. What an incredible resource we have in the NYBG…and this show truly tops past orchid years. Just the number of specimens and the bountiful groupings is breathtaking, but the range of colors. Wow! Thank you.

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