by Grace Chapman, Director of Horticulture, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
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.
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.
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).
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.
It was such fun designing the display and I’m already cooking up ideas for next year’s display!