Photoblog: Orchids and Moss-Men

If I didn’t have these wonderful week-ends in February and March to volunteer at the Orchid Escape, I would curl up in a ball and hibernate for winter…

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanical Garden works with our Master Gardeners Program and Evansville Orchid Society to present an orchid display extraordinaire every winter.  Within the Zoo Grounds is Amazonia, a 20,000 square foot “greenhouse” that replicates the beauty and diversity of the South American rain forest.  Palms soar to the 45-foot tall roof and create a lush tropical setting. Howler Monkeys and Toucans welcome visitors to their treetop homes. Tapirs and other exotic creatures wait around each bend in the trail that leads past a waterfall, across a bridge, winding down to  the indoor-outdoor habitat of a pair of  jaguars. It is a perfect setting to pack in orchids of many varieties.  Many are grown there at the zoo; others have been flown in from Hawaii.  Along with some moss art, bromeliads, anthurium, and a gorgeous bird-of-paradise, it’s a great place to hang out on the week-ends.

The show opened last Saturday and I was out there on Sunday morning.  It is even More Lush this year—you Must drop by for a stroll…

The Moss-Men were so cool.  We had the paddler last year, but the birdwatcher is new…

The best show of all, of course, are the orchids themselves…

Shed your winter blahs with a stroll through Amazonia, open 7 days a week, with the Orchid Escape going through March.  I hope I see you there!

Peace

Orchids…and a Bird of Paradise

Oh, the irony…we were to make up a snow day today, but it snowed…   I like it, though, as we will still only have to make up 1.

I spent 8 hours of the week-end out at Amazonia, talking with the people and animals, walking up and down soaking up the humidity and light.  Naturally, I took tons of pictures and here are a few…

It’s pretty safe to say that there is no flower more widely coveted than the orchid. With their delicate, sculptural beauty and historical rarity, orchids carry an unrivaled suggestion of refinement. The exotic flowers are now cultivated in a wide variety of colors and delicately shaped blossoms, making them beautiful both on their own and as an addition to arrangements, but they retain their association with very special occasions.

Different cultures throughout history have believed in the healing, disease-fighting and protective properties of the orchid. In traditional Chinese medicine the orchid is used to help cure coughs and lung illnesses. The ancient Greeks associated it with virility, and the Aztecs were said to drink a mixture of the vanilla orchid and chocolate to give them power and strength.

With an estimated 25,000 different types existing naturally, orchids are of the largest flowering plant families, but they have always carried an impression of rarity. Some tropical species grow in virtually inaccessible habitats and have never been seen more than a handful of times in the wild. Their exotic mystique and otherworldly beauty was irresistible to the Victorians, who collected and displayed them like treasures. Consequently, they became a sign of luxury and refined tastes. Today they are still hunted and traded by avid international orchid collectors, who also prize them for their long-lasting blooms.

Just one more…the display at the top (and in this mosaic) was just beautiful and the show-stopper was a 30-year-old (yes, thirty plus years alive) Bird of Paradise that has been in our Zoo’s greenhouse for many of those.  Its blooms this year were so prolific and pretty that our curator pulled out the forklift and brought it in for us all to enjoy…

I suppose I’m going to have to put on my snow boots now…  Stay warm, friends.