We went backstage at the Nolen Greenhouses for a behind the scenes preview of the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Orchid Show 2022, and here are some of our photos of the preparation for the orchids about to have their star turn.
behind the scenes photos of of the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show 2022
the Nolen Greenhouses
The Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections opened at the NYBG in 2005 to great fanfare.
Collectively, the two linear glass structures provide an an acre of space for hundreds of thousands of tropical, rare and damaged plants to grow – there are 8 different growing zones in this highly sophisticated infrastructure.[white_box]
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The roof vents open on a sunny day and close when it rains (extremely helpful on a day like the one when we visited) – they’re remotely monitored and adjusted according to the needs of the plants. Radiant heat throughout the greenhouses ensures that temperatures are optimal for growth.
The automation makes tending to rare and delicate plants a great deal easier and more precise than the old ways of growing plants.
Light, moisture and temperature levels can all be tailored based on the weather conditions whether the gardeners are on site or not.
the orchid master
Marc Hachadourian is the Director of the Nolen Greenhouses, and the head gardener who tends the 7,000-specimen orchid collection. His pride in these gorgeous blooms and his joy in explaining their unique characteristics is like that of a doting parent for a child. It’s wonderful and totally infectious – if you didn’t love orchids before speaking with him, you definitely will afterward.
One of the main challenges of staging the Orchid Show each year is that all of the orchids need to be in bloom at the same time. Which means lots of careful forward planning on the part of the NYBG gardeners – timing their cultivation so that each plant is at peak beauty for the show is a great deal easier with a fully-automated greenhouse like this one.
the elusive yellow orchid
It turns out that one of most difficult colors to achieve in an orchid is yellow. We learn that growers have worked on this for years, and finally we get to see the fruits of their labor.
The yellow orchids are so delicate and lemon yellow that you could easily mistake them for daffodils or buttercups.[white_box]
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Of course, some of the speckled yellow orchids are far too gorgeous to be mistaken for anything other than what they are.
Various species of orchids were once studied intently by Charles Darwin, and the NYBG actually has one plant that was alive during his lifetime.
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nybg orchid show preview
home of the corpse flower
There are thousands of other plant species in the Nolen Greenhouses, including the famous (or infamous) Corpse Flower. Native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and weighing up to 200 pounds, the plant gets its name from the odor it produces to attract pollinators that eat decaying meat. In its honor, there’s a statue outside the greenhouses. There are even little beetles, because they’re the pollinators (without with whom there would be no flower).
also home of some truly unusual plant life
But that’s not even the most interesting one, if you ask us. There are cacti that look like rocks. And plants that appear to be dead but are in fact alive and thriving.
The greenhouses are also the site of the cultivation of the Japanese chrysanthemums on display annually in the fall “Kiku” exhibition.
Herbs and grasses grow from seeds and will later be featured in
behind the scenes photos at the Nolen Greenhouses at the NYBG
If you have the opportunity, definitely take a tour of the greenhouses. At any time of year, it’s filled with marvels from the natural world, lovingly tended to by expert gardeners.
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.
Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. A Detroit native, she has 3 Harvard degrees and has written 3 mystery novels published by Simon & Schuster. After serving as a senior corporate executive, CEO of CNBC and partner at McKinsey, she now serves on the boards of several tech companies. She loves fashion, Paris, New York, books, contemporary art, running, skiing, coffee, Corgis and violets.