It’s always a pleasure to visit an orchid show and see the wonderful varieties on display and the skill of orchid growers. But sometimes the presentation and the settings in which the orchids are displayed can seem a little artificial and out of keeping with orchids’ natural beauty.
An exhibition named Orchids: Take a Walk on the Wild Side at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC in 2007, changed all this. Orchids were displayed as they would be found in their natural state, and much information was provided. You can learn more here: Orchid Exhibit.
The idea of the show was definitely not for visitors to come and gawp at the pretty flowers, but to teach those attending, especially the young, about how orchids develop in their natural habitat, where in the world that habitat can be found and the special measures needed to propagate them successfully in different climates.
The Smithsonian Institution sets great store by educating the young, and it has the benefit of having many beautiful properties and gardens in which to do this. Smithsonian Gardens says that it “strives to cultivate an extremely diverse array of orchids from all over the world. With close to 10,000 plants in the collection, new acquisitions are selected carefully each year based on their display quality, educational value, beauty, rarity and how they complement the present collection.” This is an admirable thing to do.
It is all very well to admire orchids, but it is important to know where they come from and how they got here. Even experienced orchid growers may be ignorant of the origins of their favored species.
Organizations such as Smithsonian Gardens work happily away, doing their job of caring for rare plants, which is wonderful enough in itself, but the fact that this organization and similar bodies are so concerned with educating the young is something we should all be applauding loudly.
Please submit a comment below and let me know what you think!
For more ways to learn about orchids, here are 3 Orchid Books You Must Add to Your Collection.