Florida in New York

In late winter, our thoughts turn to the warmth of the tropics, but who has time with work and all?

The New York Botanical Garden – a respite in any season – nonetheless has the answer to the pent-up yearning for spring – the annual “Orchid Show.” 

“These installations show orchids in a different way than they’ve been shown before,” Todd Forrest, the Garden’s Arthur Ross vice president for horticulture and living collections, said at Tuesday’s press preview. And how. What visitors will discover at the 16th annual show, running Saturday, March 3 through April 22, is an architectonic approach – mainly in a hot, sherbet palette – that reflects the towering work of a true master, Belgian floral designer Daniel Ost as well as New York’s soaring spirit. 

Ost’s basket-like sculpture in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory’s Palms of the World Gallery – which seems to reach for the 90-foot-tall dome overhead – and the Orchid Dome in the Seasonal Collections Gallery capture the influence that Japan has had on the designer’s career. Bamboo stalks as thick and strong as pipes form grids at every turn. Tubing suggests plant life’s connection to water (though the orchids and other plants are watered there the old-fashioned way, by hand.) The climbing quality of the displays underscores the tree-dwelling aspect of orchids, Ost said.

A shy, soft-spoken yet chatty man with a definite presence and an elfin sense of humor, Ost said orchids are among his favorite tropical flowers though he doesn’t like to play favorites. At Tuesday’s presser, he paid tribute to the great “heart” with which the Garden staff serves as a steward of its 250-acre campus in the Bronx. The solicitousness with which staffers squired Ost around showed that they return the admiration.

After the love fest, we took ourselves off to a working lunch at the Hudson Garden Grill. If you have to write through lunch, this is the place to do it. A friendly but unobtrusive staff, cheery surroundings – the blue ceramic tea service is divine – and tasty fare make this a welcome stop in one of the happiest places on earth.

Fortified, we later pressed on to The Shop in the Garden (the dessert after dessert) and treated ourselves to two willowy faux magnolia branches, then took a walk on a gentle, late-winter day around the tulip tree-lined oval that leads to the magisterial Beaux Arts-style Watson Building.

Ah, happy almost spring! 

For more on “The Orchid Show,” , visit nybg.org. And for more on the Garden and its blockbuster “Georgia O’Keeffe:  Visions of Hawai’I” (May 19-Oct. 28), check out WAG’s March issue (“Inspiring Women in Design – And Some Men, Too”).

Georgette Gouveia

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