Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NYBG - Escape to a Tropical Rainforest

Ahh! The Orchids

Dear Postcard from New York Reader,

Stepping into the Conservatory, a grand Victorian glass palace, was a Star Trek moment come true. You know the scene where the crew of the Enterprise beams down to a foreign planet and stand mesmerized before they set off on their mission? Before my eyes, orchids in every size shape and color clung to the bark and thick foliage of magnificent trees in a steamy humid rain forest.

Their astonishing beauty was nothing less than bewildering. The scene recreated a world millions of years before humans existed, when orchids, lush vegetation and strange animals were the dominant forms of life. More than 85% of almost 30,000 orchid species live high in the air, hanging from majestic tropical trees with their roots exposed!

Of course, I wanted to read all the detailed descriptions for every flower on display; for instance, I discovered Vanilla, a familiar flavor we all love, comes from an orchid! But, time and again the flower textures, colors, sizes and incredible shapes were too compelling to ignore. I forgot about reading and just looked.

Would you believe, some orchids have spots like leopards; some have long hollow tubes, spindles, and pouches like kangaroos. Others have furry spines, hairs, bumps, tails, slippers, and bubbles. Theirs is a fascinating world to engage the imagination for a lifetime. One can easily see why scientist spent many years studying just one species.

Best of all, you can actually take one or more home to enjoy. Shop in the Garden has hundreds of extraordinary orchids available for sale with experts on hand to offer advice on how to care for and grow them.

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Just for Kids:

Even more than the zoo, Spring is the best time to visit the Botanical Garden. There are hands-on programs for children as young as two years old, where they can explore, discover, and experience nature at its most vibrant. Let them get their hands dirty; they can dig, plant and grow vegetables and flowers, feed worms, and create interesting things like compost and bark rubbings.

Don't miss "Chocolate and Vanilla Adventures," at the Everett Children's Adventure Garden where youngsters can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.

In the mood to feast your eyes on a few more orchids? Click on Ahhh! The Orchids…and select View as slide show.

See the Orchid Show now through April 12th.

Jacqueline Cable
For Postcards from New York

Address to remember New York Botanical Garden, 200th Street at Kazimiroff Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458, 718-817-8700, www.nybg.org.

Hours: Tues-Sun 10 AM – 6 PM.

Directions: Metro North from Grand Central Station twenty minutes to Botanical Garden Station.

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  • Photo by Joseph Knight

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