In the depths of winter, sometimes the spirit needs a reminder of the glories of spring. Surely that’s why so many of the best luxury orchid shows in the world happen in February and early March. For those who love gardens and are becoming deeply weary of cold and snow, here’s our list of the best orchid shows in the world, with their dates and themes for 2020. Plus some fun facts about orchids to make your visit even more enjoyable. Even if you only travel to these in your mind, we hope it’ll leave you feeling restored.
six fun facts about orchids
Before we begin, a few fun facts that will make a visit to an orchid show even more special. Experts report that orchids have been around for at least 80 million years, based on the pollen found stuck to the backs of bees fossilized in amber.
Fun fact #1: What are the key characteristics of an orchid?
Depends on who you ask. Botanists describe orchids as perennials that lack a permanent woody structure and have flowers with bilateral symmetry. Orchids generally feature one petal (the labellum) that is different than the other two. They’re popular in the lab because they take well to genetic experimentation. Charles Darwin wrote extensively on orchid cross-pollination.
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Fun fact #2: Orchids are essential to the perfumers’ trade
Orchid scents vary from beguiling floral scents to odors like dung and rotten meat. That’s because the fragrance of orchids evolved to attract the pollinator needed. Bees and butterflies like sweet scents. But flies like the odoriferous ones. Find the right orchid, and the resulting fragrance will be a hit. Black Orchid was Tom Ford’s first fragrance, and 10 years later the bestseller has spawned a family of scents, including Velvet Orchid and Orchid Soleil.
Fun fact #3: Brides love them
Wedding planners would add that orchids are in the top 10 favorite flowers globally. Along with poinsettias, they’re the most popular houseplants in the world. Perhaps surprisingly, orchids are viewed favorably as Valentine’s Day flowers by millennials.
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Fun fact #4: many cultures view orchids as symbols of renewal and healing
In Chinese culture, orchids are one of the “Four Gentlemen.” The group also includes bamboo, plum trees and chrysanthemums – each represents one of the four seasons. Orchids, in this case, represent spring. To the ancient Greeks, orchids suggested virility. Several cultures believe that orchids have healing and protective properties. For example, the Aztecs were said to drink a mixture of the vanilla orchid and chocolate to give them power and strength, and the Chinese believe orchids can help cure lung illnesses and coughs.
Fun fact #5: orchids have a history of being crazy-making
For natural beauty, the loveliness and elegance of orchids is hard to surpass. Small wonder that they’ve inspired passionate and sometimes bad behavior.
If you’re in any doubt about that, just read The Orchid Thief. Susan Orlean’s 1998 book recounts her reporting on the arrest of John Laroche and a group of Seminoles in south Florida for poaching rare orchids (including the Ghost Orchid) in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.
The plot of the subsequent film loosely based on her work – the 2002 Spike Jonz film Adaptation (in which Meryl Streep plays Orlean) – is largely driven by the difficulties of capturing on film the nuances of these flowers and their effect on people.
Fictional detective Nero Wolfe was an orchidophile. In real life, “orchidelirium” was the name for the ailment suffered by wealthy orchid fanatics in the Victorian era, who sent explorers and collectors to almost every part of the world in search of new varieties. These expensive expeditions were often shrouded in secrecy and it was not unusual for collectors to spread misleading information about the locations where new orchids were found (new exotic orchids were most often sold at auction in London at sky-high prices).
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Fun fact #6: Orchids are not as rare as you might think
Elusive, desirable, gorgeous, complex, delicate and refined, one could argue that these hothouse flowers are the very embodiment of luxury.
So you might be surprised to learn that while considered exotic, orchids are actually not all that rare. They’re classified by botanists as members of the Orchidaceae family, one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with almost 28,000 currently accepted species. That’s four times the number of mammal species. They’re the national flower of many countries, including Venezuela, Columbia, and Singapore.
the best luxury orchid shows in the world
Ready to fall under their spell? Here are the best orchid shows in the world, in which you can experience their beauty, styled and curated by the most talented floral artists in the business.
1. The Kew Gardens London Orchid Festival
The 25th annual Kew Gardens London Orchid Festival will once again be held in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. This year the festival will celebrate the wildlife and culture of Indonesia for the first time ever. The archipelago of Indonesia is home to at least 4,000 species of orchid.
Among the enchanting displays at Kew is a carnival of animals, including bright orange orangutans, a crouching tiger and a rhinoceros. In a nod to the over 100 active volcanoes in Indonesia, there’s also an “erupting volcano of orchids.” Elsewhere, an archway made up of hundreds of carnivorous pitcher plants provides a lovely vista. After hours, there will be cooking demonstrations, live gamelan music and traditional dancers. February 8 – March 8, 2020.
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2. The New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show
This year’s New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show will feature the dazzling floral creations of Jeff Leatham, famed artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris and floral designer to the stars. Held in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the show will feature thousands of vibrant orchids.
Each gallery of the exhibition will feature a different color experience and visual effect, like the turn of a kaleidoscope. During Orchid Evenings throughout the run of the exhibition, there will be musical and other special performances, along with signature cocktails and local flavors from the Bronx Night Market. February 15 – April 19, 2020.
3. The Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition, San Francisco
The 68th annual Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition in San Francisco will be held in the Hall of Flowers at Golden Gate Park. The theme for the 2020 Exposition is “Orchids in Focus,“ and there will be more than 150,000 orchids on display. February 20 – 23, 2020.
4. The Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens, Philadelphia
The Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia is held annually in the 4-acre Conservatory. This year, visitors will find a lush sanctuary filled with thousands of vibrant, artfully presented orchids. “From a sea of golden Oncidium to swirls of salmon Phalaenopsis to a tapestry of vibrant Vanda,” the Conservatory is filled with warm color and texture. With the theme of “indoor color, outdoor calm,” visitors are encouraged to explore the wintry outdoor gardens filled with trees and grasses, providing a setting of quiet tranquility. Through March 22, 2020.
5. The Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show
This year’s annual Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show is all about playing with color. “Orchids in a Modern World of Living Color” will feature artistic installations and over 10,000 brilliant blooms. The installations this year are whimsical and unexpected: a towering kaleidoscope, a floating carpet, and a dramatic chandelier. Making it even more magical? The displays are illuminated and transformed by the rays of the winter sun. And there’ll be live Morning Music with Orchids two days a week. February 8 – March 22, 2020.
6. The Japan Grand Prix International Orchid and Flower Show
The 30th annual Japan Grand Prix International Orchid and Flower Show in the Tokyo Dome will showcase approximately 3,000 varieties of orchid including tropical, temperate, oriental and Japanese orchids. This year’s theme is “In Full Bloom,” and participating vendors will come from over 20 countries and regions. The “Japan Grand Prix” contest recognizes the best orchids.
This year, the show will also include roses, tulips, and greenery such as succulents. There will be performances, demonstrations from famous florists, and a botanical market. The show’s aim is to share creative input on how to integrate flowers into our daily lives. February 14 – 21, 2020.
7. The Paris Jardin des Plantes
In Paris, the 8th annual “Mille & Une Orchidées” (A Thousand and One Orchids) will feature over 1,000 blossoming orchids in the tropical greenhouse of the magnificent Jardin des Plantes. At Arabian Orchid , visitors can also purchase magnificent specimens of orchids from specialists, thanks to the pop-up shop near the greenhouse. February 5 to March 2, 2020.
8. The National Orchid Garden in Singapore
Finally, the National Orchid Garden in Singapore is a year-round opportunity to surround yourself with these lovely blooms. The garden is home to over 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids. After a two-year renovation, several of the greenhouses will reopen later in 2020. But the “VIP” section is open, should you choose to visit now.
the best luxury orchid shows in the world
Have a wonderful time, and just remember that you’ve been warned: orchidelirium is a real Thing. It’s catching, and it’s pretty hard to cure. Which one of these shows is your favorite?
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