You have until the end of March to glimpse one of the best-tended orchid collections in the country. It's on rotating display at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
|Horticulturist Babs Wagner|
Missouri Botanical Garden Orchid Show
This year's show honors 25 years of the garden's support of orchid research and conservation on the remote island of Madagascar. Yet Horticulturist Babs Wagner says the history of orchid research goes back much further in time and place. "It's a large part of the garden's history. Orchids have been a part of the Missouri Botanical Garden since the late 1800s."
Wagner says most of the orchids on display in St. Louis come originally from Central and South America. "Many of our Central and South American species were collected back in the 50s and 60s when it was legal to actually go out and collect orchids. Now it is very, very difficult to collect orchids out of the wild."
The restricted access greenhouse tended year-around by garden staff rotates the best of the best blooms each February and March for the popular orchid show. The flowers are displayed against the backdrop of a lush, tropical landscape, safely indoors and with bright lighting that encourages photographs. It includes some of the thousands of various orchid species, both terrestrial and epiphyte that grow in the air. The show takes advantage of the few weeks out of the year that orchids spend in bloom.
Wagner describes orchids as the largest flowering plant family in the world, both delicate (don't touch the displays) and resilient. She hopes the colorful displays wow visitors, while the flowers have much to teach us. "Climate change is playing a huge role now in where orchids are found in the wild. For instance when a hurricane goes through a country, many of those orchid seed can be dispersed further then they would normally disperse, so you might find orchids growing now in different places than where they were originally native. Fortunately orchids have great survival techniques, so despite the climate change they usually are pretty adept at finding ways to survive. But climate change as far as temperature, humidity and that sort of thing, all of those factors play a role in the survival of the species."
Wagner says you'll find different blooms each day of the March display, as new blooms are brought out of the greenhouse. Diversity is wide, with several species of the genus phalaenopsis, several of the showy, frilly genus cattleya, and even the common ladyslipper that is native to Missouri. Those of us who love the flavor of pure vanilla extract in food can thank the vining vanilla orchid for providing that.
Thanks for the Missouri Botanical Garden
for courtesy access to the garden and orchid show. Thanks to Stonyfield Organic
for keeping the kids happily nourished on our long road trip with wholesome YoKids Smoothies when we were on the Moo-ve! They loved both Strawbana (strawberry, banana and carrot) and Very Berry (strawberry, raspberry and sweet potato). "Are we there yet?" was prevented with a deck of "52 Fun Things to do in the Car" by Lynn Gordon courtesy Stonyfield, as well.
(The author was compensated by Stonyfield for this series.)
Tomorrow: following a flash of color and find out how you could win your own wholesome Stonyfield treat to take on the Moo-ve!