EAST MARLBOROUGH—The moment you walk into the lobby at Longwood Gardens and see the display of orchids along the wall you know you are about to see something very special.
Up the cold walk to the conservatory and into the entrance to be greeted with a display of small orchids you enter a would of sight and smell that is truly transforming.
When Pierre DuPont built Longwood Gardens in the 1920’s he included many orchids which were favorites of Mrs. DuPont. Today, Longwood Gardens has a collection of nearly 6,000 orchid plants of different types. For nearly 100 years they have been improving the old favorites and collecting and developing new strains.
It's a big change from the original blossoms in white and purple that many mothers and grandmothers wore on Mother’s Day.
The extravaganza fills the conservatory with many colors however the overwhelming emphasis is still white and shades of pink and purple.
A 90-foot walkway with orchid sprays alternating purple with white hanging on the wall all the way down the hall is breath taking. In the cactus room there is a spectacular “screen” of smaller orchids with 5 foot roots dangling down hanging on a wire. Hanging in the fern room are huge balls covered in orchids with large spikes sticking out that reminded me of floating World War II sea mines. All of his is before visitors reach the pinnacle of the exhibit.
Guests marvel at the Orchid House in the Conservatory but few encompass the work involved in creating this display.
Normally, between 200 to 300 orchids are on display in the Orchid house. To “feed” this display nearly 6,000 plants are in the Garden’s collection. The different types vary in flowering frequency (mostly once/year) and the length of the time the flowers last. (From only one day to six weeks or more). To keep the display fresh, 10 volunteers work over 50 hours per week with the staff.
During the Orchid Extravaganza staff experts are available to discuss orchids and answer questions from seasoned orchid gardeners to complete neophytes. Their patience in answering the range of questions is amazing and their pride in the collection is obvious.
Complementing the orchids in the conservatory are numerous displays of flowers which look like they could be “orchid relatives” that are matched to blend in with the chosen them.
This show is awesome-Allow yourself more time than you expect to enjoy the show and to sit sown in one of the available seats in strategic location and enjoy the luxury of the elegance of Longwood Gardens. The Orchid Extravaganza runs through March 24.