Be whisked away on a sophisticated French escape this winter with a visit to the 92nd annual Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
Visitors will experience a butterfly’s view of paradise: a lush garden of curvilinear design, filled with hundreds of fresh-blooming orchids from the garden’s historic collection. The 2010 Orchid Show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through March 28. Show admission is $5, in addition to regular garden admission ($8 adults, $4 St. Louis City and County residents, free children ages 12 and under). Garden members are free.
The garden maintains one of the nation’s largest orchid collections, with more than 8,100 individual orchid plants in hundreds of varieties. The Orchid Show is the only time of year when a sizeable selection of plants from the collection is brought out en masse for public view. Shades of warm yellows, energetic oranges, pleasing plums and rosy reds mingle with passionate plums and winter whites reflected in the Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Oncidiums and other orchids displayed from head to toe in a garden of greenery.
Enter the “Butterfly’s Garden” through the Piper Lobby, which morphs into the faux Monarch Café for the show. Stroll through this tiny French lobby to discover the 5,000-square-foot Orthwein Floral Display Hall, completely transformed into a French-inspired streetscape and temporary “garden within a garden.”
Saunter beneath streetlamps along the curvy rue du jardin. Meander past the storefront of a quaint flower shop and alongside a rising image of Paris’s monumental Eiffel Tower. Aloft throughout the garden, find dozens of over-sized model butterflies covered with botanical surface treatments. Decorative fleurs de lis finials and ornamental obelisks accent the sophisticated scene, which showcases 700 to 800 individual blooming orchids at any one time.
“We took our inspirational cues for this year’s Orchid Show from nature,” says Pat Scace, floral display designer. “This display swings away from the straight lines of last year’s more formal pattern, mimicking the curving lines of nature’s design in the scales and wings of a monarch butterfly.”
Each year, the garden’s Orchid Show is carefully constructed from the ground up by a team of horticulturists led by Scace and long-time orchid grower Babs Wagner. Winter-blooming orchids comprise 60 percent to 70 percent of the garden’s prized collection, which concentrates on plants that can tolerate extremes in St. Louis temperatures. Throughout the duration of the show, orchids will be continually rotated out and replaced with fresh blooms as different cultivars come into flower, offering new sights and smells with each repeat visit.
“This year’s Orchid Show runs two weeks longer than in past years, so visitors will have the opportunity to see many of our orchids blooming that typically flower after the show ends,” Wagner says. “People should come during the beginning, middle, and final days of the show’s duration to take advantage of all the different orchids on display!”
Photographers are welcome to use hand-held cameras to capture the show for personal enjoyment, but tripod and monopod usage is not permitted indoors.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, easily accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit. Free parking is available on-site at the west lot and at two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.
For general information, visit the website or call the recorded event line at 314-577-9400 or toll-free 800-642-8842.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is the oldest continually operating botanical garden in the nation, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009.