Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Mar. 1- Apr. 21: The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary at The New York Botanical Garden

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden. Photo by Lia Chang

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden. Photo by Lia Chang

Last year’s Orchid Show at The New York Botanical Garden was such a hit with me, that I can’t wait to check out The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary, NYBG’s 12th annual exhibition of orchids, which opened on Saturday, March 1, 2014. The dramatic beauty of a flourishing tropical garden combines with vibrant architecture to bring Key West’s charm and ambience to New York. Running through April 21, the exhibition displays a mosaic of thousands of exotic orchids in the Botanical Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory in addition to offering a plethora of orchid and Key West-related programming, including tropical rock and island music performances, a Key West Poetry Walk, and Orchid Evenings.

The garden evoked in The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary is inspired by a garden originally designed for Susan Henshaw Jones, President of the Museum of the City of New York, and Judge Richard K. Eaton. Landscape architect Raymond Jungles won a Residential Design Award of Honor from the American Society of Landscape Architects for the Jones and Eaton garden in 2005. Francisca Coelho, the Garden’s Vivian and Edward Merrin Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions, is reimagining Jungles’s design for this year’s Orchid Show.

The exhibition is on view in the Conservatory’s Victorian-style glasshouse and includes a magnificent walk through A World of Plants, the Conservatory’s permanent exhibition. Orchids will be highlighted throughout the Palms of the World Gallery, Tropical Rain Forest Galleries, and the Aquatic Plants and Vines Gallery.

In the Seasonal Exhibition Galleries, the centerpiece of The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary features a re-creation of the Jones and Eaton Garden, with a green garden wall and a fountain flowing into a pool with stepping stones. At every angle, soaring angular pergolas and trellises will be enveloped by thousands of brightly colored orchids, including Vanda (rainbow orchids), Dendrobium (cane orchids), and Cymbidium (Asian corsage orchids). The modern angular architectural lines of the garden will lead the visitor to lush displays of flowers, palms, and other plants, including the everglades palm, Bismarck palm, area palm, bottlebrush, variegated mahoe, buttonwood, gumbo limbo, spineless century plant, and Christmas palm. Ferns and bromeliads comprise the beautiful understory of the exhibition.

Sleek geometric details of fountain walls, landing pads, a water garden, and benches blend with the natural look of plants and flowers. The gentle, lulling sound of the fountain adds to the relaxing environment. The pool garden at the lanai contributes a contemporary, modernist touch.

Through exhibition interpretation, The Orchid Show will also explain orchid diversity, “What Makes an Orchid an Orchid”, the history and conservation stories of rare and endangered orchids in the rain forests of the world, and information about Commodore Matthew Perry and the opening of Key West.

A Few Facts About Orchids
Orchids represent the height of evolutionary success in the plant kingdom. With more than 30,000 naturally occurring species, they are the largest family of flowering plants. Orchids are adaptable, diverse, and grow in almost every habitat—from semi-desert to Arctic tundra—on every continent except Antarctica. They come in a dazzling range of sizes, from miniatures with tiny flowers less than 1/16 of an inch in diameter to giants more than 25 feet tall with flower spikes up to 10 feet long. Orchids also come in an amazing array of colors and shapes. Some mimic bees, wasps, butterflies, and moths; others have unusual buckets, traps, and trigger mechanisms. These adaptations help ensure that insect pollinators visit the flowers. Because orchid flowers have specialized reproductive parts and their pollen is a single mass, individual grains of pollen cannot disperse as with other flowers. As a result, each orchid flower has only one chance to transfer pollen to another flower.

Orchids at the Garden
There are more than 6,000 orchids representing 2,273 taxa (different types) in the Garden’s permanent collection. The New York Botanical Garden has orchids from all of the floristic regions of the world, including Australia, Africa, South America, and Madagascar. Because the Garden is committed to orchid research and conservation, its scientists study the botany and ecology of orchids; what they discover is useful to conservation work that will ensure the future of these extraordinary plants in nature. The Garden’s resident orchid expert is Marc Hachadourian, Manager of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections. With more than 15 years of commercial and specialized horticultural experience, he supervises the care of the botanical collections, including the extensive orchid collection and exhibition plants in the Nolen Greenhouses.

About Designer Francisca Coelho
Francisca Coelho graduated from the Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture and began her career at the Garden 30 years ago, rising through the ranks to her current position of Vivian and Edward Merrin Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions. Tropical plants and aquatics are her areas of horticultural expertise. Coelho was deeply involved in the restoration of the Conservatory from 1993 to 1997 and continues to take the lead in the restoration and preservation of this landmark structure and the development and display of its Living Collections. She leads Conservatory exhibition-related planning and implementation for the Garden and is known for her plantsmanship and design skills in developing, planting, and maintaining the permanent plant galleries and the high-style seasonal shows. These diverse, blockbuster horticultural exhibitions transform the Seasonal Exhibition Galleries of the Conservatory with themes as wide-ranging as the orchid gardens and habitats of Singapore, Brazil, and Cuba, and last year’s Wild Medicine exhibition, which reimagined the Western world’s oldest botanical garden in Padua, Italy.

The Orchid Experience Continues Throughout the Garden
In venues across the Garden’s 250 acres, The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary offers visitors opportunities to learn about orchids through tours, a lecture, and Orchid Care Demonstrations; enjoy romantic evenings in the Conservatory; read and listen to poetry from Key West; and listen to live music:

Poetry for Every Season: Key West Poetry Walk
In the Perennial Garden

Take a stroll through the Perennial Garden and view large poetry boards that highlight the work of the island’s important 20th-century American poets who frequented Key West, including James Merrill, Richard Wilbur, and Elizabeth Bishop. An audio tour narrated by Alice Quinn, Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America, will accompany the Poetry Walk. Co-presented with the Poetry Society of America

Escape to Paradise: The Music of Key West
Saturdays and Sundays, March 1–April 20 (a
nd Mondays, April 14 & 21),
1 & 3 p.m. (April 6, 1 & 3:30 p.m.)
In Ross Hall
The sounds of tropical rock and island music transport the visitor to Key West with lyrics that evoke a warm, lush locale and a laid-back lifestyle, plus rhythms of the acoustic guitar, congas, and percussion instruments.

Q & A with Orchid Experts
Saturdays and Sundays, March 1–April 20 (and Mondays, April 14 & 21), 1:30–4:30 p.m.
At Shop in the Garden
Gardening and orchid experts share their best secrets and explain the simple steps to healthy plants as they help you choose the right plant for your home.

Orchid Care Demonstrations
Saturdays and Sundays, March 1–April 20 (and Mondays, April 14 & 21),
2 & 3 p.m.
In the Conservatory GreenSchool
This series of hands-on demonstrations show you how to grow and care for orchids at home. Topics vary each weekend and will cover popular inquiries such as Basic Orchid Care, Troubleshooting with Orchids, and Fantastically Fragrant Orchids.

Lecture: Cultivating Beauty: The Ethnobotany and Biology of the Orchid Family Sunday, March 9, 4 p.m.
In Ross Hall
For centuries, the orchid has held a special fascination in both horticulture and popular culture, perhaps unrivaled among cultivated plants. These charismatic and often enigmatic plants have fueled the minds and imaginations of scientists, horticulturists, and admirers alike—some even claiming to have been hypnotized and enslaved by their beauty. Join Marc Hachadourian, Curator of the Orchid Collection at the Garden, for a presentation of the extraordinary aura and mystery surrounding one of the world’s most celebrated plants. This lecture is presented by The Torrey Botanical Society.

Orchid Evenings
Saturdays, March 8, 15, 22, 29, April 5, 12, 19 and Friday, April 18, 6:30–9 p.m.
In the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
Enjoy a cocktail while viewing The Orchid Show and its thousands of spectacular flowers. The unforgettable beauty of the setting makes for one of New York City’s most romantic date destinations. Your ticket includes a complimentary cocktail and special dinner offers at some of Arthur Avenue’s outstanding restaurants. Advance tickets are recommended and are available for purchase at
Non-Member $30/Member $20 (Adults 21 and over)

Poetry for Every Season: Key West Poetry Reading
Sunday, April 6, 2 p.m.
In Ross Hall
In partnership with the Poetry Society of America and keeping with The Orchid Show’s Key West theme, this reading will highlight the work of the island’s famed poems. Tracy K. Smith will read works of Elizabeth Bishop; Henri Cole will read James Merrill; and David Yezzi will read work from Richard Wilbur. Reserve your tickets in advance at to guarantee seating.

Orchids at Shop in the Garden
Located in the Garden’s Leon Levy Visitor Center, Shop in the Garden is a not-to-be-missed destination during The Orchid Show. Thousands of top-quality orchids, from exotic, hard-to-find specimens for connoisseurs to elegant yet easy-to-grow varieties for beginners, are available for purchase, along with orchid products for properly caring for new acquisitions and hundreds of orchid books.

During The Orchid Show’s run, cell phone tour stops at Shop in the Garden provide answers to frequently asked orchid questions and allow visitors to dial up care tips on watering and feeding, reblooming, and repotting for several specific types of orchids for sale at the Shop. On weekends, experts will be available in the Shop to advise visitors in selecting and caring for orchids.

Founding Sponsor: The Tiffany & Co. Foundation
Major Sponsors: Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Royce Generous support also provided by the Karen Katen Foundation Additional support provided by the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust

The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road. It is easy to reach by Metro-North Railroad or subway. The Botanical Garden is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday and Monday federal holidays. During The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary, the Garden is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and also open on Monday, April 14 and Monday, April 21. The best way to enjoy the Garden during The Orchid Show is with the All-Garden Pass, which includes admission to the grounds as well as to seasonal gardens, exhibitions, and attractions such as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Rock Garden, and Tram Tour. Weekends: $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students with ID, $10 for children ages 2–12, children under 2 free. Weekdays: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students with ID, $8 for children ages 2–12, children under 2 free. A Grounds-Only Pass is available: $13 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID, $3 for children ages 2–12, children under 2 free. Grounds-only admission is free all day on Wednesdays and from 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays. Discounts available for groups of 15 or more; contact Group Tours, 718.817.8687. For more information, please call 718.817.8700 or visit

The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10458.

The New York Botanical Garden is located on property owned in full by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. A portion of the Garden’s general operating funds is provided by The New York City Council and The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Bronx Borough President and Bronx elected representatives in the City Council and State Legislature provide leadership funding.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz Presents “LADY” Featuring Lia Chang, Monica Garrido, Carolyn Holmes, Noel Simon’ Wippler, Linda Hudson, Adi Meyerson and Kathleen Doran
Photos: Harriet Harris, John Tartaglia, Christine Toy Johnson, Alan Muraoka, James Saito and More celebrate Ann Harada’s Debut at Lincoln Center in the American Songbook Series
Photos: Steve Rosen, David Rossmer, Hannah Elless, Vadim Feichtner, Cathryn Salamone, Ken Triwush and Kate Wetherhead Celebrate The Other Josh Cohen Opening Night
Bryan Cranston Makes Broadway Debut in Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way at The Neil Simon Theatre, Opens March 6, 2014
March 21 – May 4: Arena Stage Presents World Premiere of Lawrence Wright’s Camp David Starring Tony Award winner Ron Rifkin and Emmy Award winner Richard Thomas
2014 is the Year of the Horse, Dragons and Lions in The Chinese New Year Parade
Q & A with Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play’s Garth Kravits
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Photos: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, André De Shields, Sandra Marquez, Dennis Zacek and More Celebrate Opening Night of Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Victory Gardens
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72
Photos: Denise Burse, Michael Genet, Doug Eskew, Tracie Thoms, Sakina Ansari-Wilson and More Celebrate Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts Opening Night at Center Stage
Photos: Backstage with Michi Barall and the cast of Regina Taylor’s stop.reset. at Signature Theatre Review: Power Play Powerful & Suspenseful
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party

Other Garden Stories:
Hanami, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Cherry Blossom Season, Begins
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Celebrates Hanami, the Cherry Blossom Season, Sunday, April 1–Sunday, April 29, 2012
Photos: Fall Foliage at Devil’s Lake State Park
Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s 30th Annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival: April 30 and May 1, 2011
Photos: Chinese New Year Festival at The Huntington in San Marino
Lunch at The Modern, A Stroll Through The Conservatory Garden in Central Park
Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias, Tulips and Narcissus at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Spring in New York is a Veritable Color Riot
Photos: Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Charles Richard Barboza

Lia Chang. Photo by Charles Richard Barboza

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia will make her jazz vocalist debut on March 1, 2014, in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Backstage Pass with Lia Chang on