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by Grace Chapman, Director of Horticulture, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Orchids Galore! at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Orchids Galore! at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden photo by Don Williamson Photography

Last Saturday, our orchid exhibition, Orchids Galore! opened at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This was my first exhibition at the Garden and I’m thrilled at the way it turned out! After a few years working on displays with Temple University’s Philadelphia International Flower Show  display, it was fun to be able to implement what I learned in the past at my new Garden.

The American Orchid Society's display at the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show.

The American Orchid Society's display at the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show.

I was responsible for the design layout, building material selection, planting plan, and plant material. We had a great team working on the display, including members from the Horticulture, Education, PR/Marketing, and Children’s Garden staff.

I made a trip to Waldor Orchids in New Jersey to pick up some of the specialty species.  210 orchids packed in a mini-van made for one sweet-smelling ride back to Virginia.

I made a trip to Waldor Orchids in New Jersey to pick up some of the specialty species. 210 orchids packed in a mini-van made for one sweet-smelling ride back to Virginia.

To do some research, I attended the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) in Ft. Lauderdale. At this trade show, I found a few new plant vendors that proved to be awesome. I also visited the Philadelphia International Flower Show, which had the theme of Hawaii.  I took so many photos of the great displays that I’m going to make that a separate blog post.

I wanted to tie the display into the Garden’s educational mission, so working with my team, we developed a three-part message: geography, conservation, and exploration.   We even made a video about what you’ll see when you come!

We divided the planting beds into different regions of the world, displaying orchids native to each area with other native plants. We added little cultural cues to help reinforce the idea of different continents (i.e. a digeridoo for Australia, a statue of Buddha for Asia).

Asian bed -- Buddha statue surrounded by Paphiopedilum orchids and different types of Alocasias, Colocasias, and bananas.

Asian bed -- Buddha statue surrounded by Paphiopedilum orchids and different types of Alocasias, Colocasias, and bananas. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

African bed- Vanilla orchids (yes there are species native to Africa), snake plant, pencil cactus, and Plumbago along with carved masks and a walking stick from Senegal. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

African bed -- Vanilla orchids (yes there are species native to Africa), snake plant, pencil cactus, and Plumbago along with carved masks and a walking stick from Senegal. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

Indonesian bed - lots of Phalaenopsis. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

Indonesian bed -- lots of Phalaenopsis. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

Australian bed- Dendrobiums, Australian tree ferns, and Eucalyptus.

Australian bed -- Dendrobiums, Australian tree ferns, and Eucalyptus.

Central and South American bed -- Cattleyas accompanied by lots of Bromeliads and other tropicals.

Central and South American bed -- Cattleyas accompanied by lots of Bromeliads and other tropicals.

Specimen plants loaned to us by Dr. Art Burke and Patty Saint Claire

Specimen plants loaned to us by Dr. Art Burke and Patty Saint Claire. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

A local metal worker made these beautiful columns and arches that we dressed up with Dendrobiums, Vandas, Oncidiums, tropical plants, Tillandsias, and lots of Spanish moss. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

A local metal worker made these beautiful columns and arches that we dressed up with Dendrobiums, Vandas, Oncidiums, tropical plants, Tillandsias, and lots of Spanish moss. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

We also used interpretive signage to tell about plant hunters who went on exploration trips to collect orchids, in many cases risking their lives. Our third message focuses on threats to orchids in the wild, such as over-collection and habitat loss.

Loved to extinction signage. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

Loved to extinction signage. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

It was such fun designing the display and I’m already cooking up ideas for next year’s display!

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4 Responses to “Orchids Galore! in the Conservatory — Now Through April 22”

  1. Shann Palmer says:

    It’s a stunning display!! If this is your first exhibition here, I am really excited to see what beautiful work you will do in the future! A friend and I visited Tuesday and really enjoyed the lovely settings. Welcome to Richmond!

  2. Thanks Shann! I’m really glad you and your friend enjoyed it.

  3. […]  Chris  is a familiar face to us here at the Garden because he worked here in 2011 setting up the Orchids Galore! exhibit and acted as an interim Conservatory […]

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