Gaily-colored orchids are on display at botanical gardens and other venues across the country—the perfect antidote for dreary winter days. This is the time of year when many orchid societies hold their annual shows, often in conjunction with local botanical gardens or conservatories. Orchid show visitors are never disappointed. Hundreds of orchids, dozens of species and myriad exotic hybrids replace winter grays with a riot of color, a sure cure for the winter blues.
From Dendrobium’s small, delicate blossoms to the large, voluptuously-curved petals of Phalaenopsis, the orchid family is amazingly varied in color, size, shape, decoration and form. From more than 25,000 orchid species, horticulturalists have created more than 100,000 orchid hybrids since the 1800s when exotic orchids from South America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands were first introduced to Western Europe. There are tiny orchids that grow in hyacinth-like clusters (Cattleya), and orchids that look like feathered stalks rising from their leaf mounds (Ludisia). There are orchids with fringed throats (Brassavoloa), and orchids with elongated spidery petals (Brassia). There are orchids with huge bulbous pitchers (Paphiopedilum), and orchids with colorful bibs (Encyclia). Within each species there are dozens of variations in addition to thousands of cross-species hybrids.
With such a wealth of color and form on display, it’s no wonder that orchid shows attract legions of photographers, both professional and hobbyists. In the Cleveland area where Just Add Ice Orchids are grown, The Cleveland Plain Dealer hosts an annual orchid photo contest in conjunction with the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s annual “Orchid Mania” show. The orchid show opened over last weekend and runs through March 25, although the photo contest ends March 18. (Click here to find out how to enter The Plain Dealer’s orchid photo contest.) Even if you don’t enter, you’ll enjoy the photos posted to the contest photo gallery where you’ll notice that big, beautiful Phalaenopsis orchids are well represented.
Photo credit: Jesse