Mesmerizing and seductive...

by - Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grown for their astonishing simplistic beauty and chromatic variety, orchids comprise a  multitude of endless collections. Transforming the historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden, their 10th annual Orchid Show featured French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc's Vertical Gardens. Bathed in orchids, ferns, exotic plants, and epiphytes freed from the constraints of gravity, the show became an exotic spectacle, dazzling the senses with painted palettes and perfumes.
With an estimated 25,000 different types existing naturally and more being discovered each year, orchids are one of the largest flowering plant families. Although they are commonly thought of as tropical, exotic flowers, orchids grow naturally in almost all climates. Despite their versatility, there is something distinctly exotic about orchids. They are intricately beautiful to the everyday flower lover and are considered to be some of the world's most evolved to flower specialists.
Orchids impart a wide variety of messages, but historically the meanings have included wealth, love, and beauty. In ancient Greece, orchids suggested virility and later with a rise in popularity in Victorian England, the meaning became symbolic of luxury. Orchids have also been believed to carry many healing and protective properties, warding off disease. The Aztecs were said to drink a mixture of the vanilla orchid and chocolate to give them power and strength, while the Chinese believe orchids can help cure lung illness and coughs.

Orchids have a big central petal called the lip or labellum. It is often shaped like a cup, trumpet or bag. Ancient Greek couples expecting a baby often ate the roots of the early purple orchid. They believed that if the man ate the flower’s large root the baby would be a boy. If the woman ate the small root, the baby would be a girl. For this reason, the beautiful flower is considered a classical feng shui symbol of fertility, bringing the energy of an untainted natural symmetry, also symbolic as a quest of perfection in any area of one's life.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the drowned Ophelia is covered in flowers, including the early purple orchid, made famous as a love potion. Hamlet’s mother was quoted to say that ‘cold maids’ call the flowers ‘dead men fingers'. 

Abundance, perfection, spiritual growth, beauty and purity - with such powerful universal symbolism attached to it, no wonder orchids have become a very popular house plant in the West. Here are a selection of recollections from our visit to the Orchid Show... Enjoy the spectrum of color and cast...

The mesmerizing and seductive orchid... xoxo-Sonya

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