Orchids 101 (For Beginners Only)

Paphiopedium orchid at Pennyslvania’s Longwood Gardens

Years ago I was touring the Filoli mansion in Woodside, California when I came across an unusual flowering plant. It perched high on a table in an upstairs hallway and sported tiny, reddish-brown blossoms. Plunging my nose into the petals, I discovered it smelled exactly like chocolate. Continue reading

Running High On The Hanging Gardens of Zion

Trees growing in the rock walls of Zion National Park

I remember being in college the first time I heard about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered by many to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. I pictured these mythic gardens as masterpieces of flowers and foliage that were somehow suspended hundreds of feet in the air. According to ancient texts, though, the gardens weren’t hanging in the literal sense, but only appeared to be floating. This was due to a remarkable product of human ingenuity. Continue reading

Everything’s Coming Up Orchids At Smithsonian’s Spring Show

Orchids on display at Washington, DC’s Hirshhorn Museum

Every spring, the Smithsonian Gardens and United States Botanic Garden mount a spectacular orchid show for the public. The collaborative exhibition alternates between the two venues and provides different ways by which to appreciate the exquisite flowers. This year’s show is particularly striking because it is housed in the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum whose modern architecture offers a brand new perspective on the exotic blooms. Continue reading

Exploring Lo de Perla, Mexico’s Exotic Orchid Garden

Orchids growing in the sanctuary at Lo de Perla

As our car jolted up the steep rocky road into the forest, I’ll admit, I had some misgivings. I had happened on a Trip Advisor review about a spectacular orchid garden located somewhere in a jungle near San Pancho, Mexico. The problem was we couldn’t find the website and the hotel staff seemed unaware of its existence. With some perseverance, though, we finally arrived at what appeared to be the location and in no time found ourselves headed up a mountainside in a white SUV with a guy named Romero. Continue reading

Dutch Robotics Cuts the Guess Work Out Of Growing Flowers

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A few days ago I heard an interesting broadcast on BBC about Green Circle Growers, based in Oberlin, Ohio. The huge state-of-the-art company decided five years ago to shift a large part of their business to orchids. To make the change, they looked to Dutch experts for advice, adopting the “Dutch Method” to their facilities. The decision has paid off: Green Circle Growers is currently the biggest orchid grower in North America. Continue reading