4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110
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by Betty Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), February 1, 2014 - The annual Orchid Show, which runs through March 23, 2014, at the Missouri Botanical Garden is an amazing presentation of nearly 400 orchids and other tropical plants built from the floor up to the glass ceiling inside the 5,000-square-foot Orthwein Floral Display Hall.
An array of orchids in various sizes and color welcome visitors into a tropical paradise. Curves paths wind around dense displays featuring varieties including Brassavola, Cattleya, Epidendrum, Gongora, Oncidium and Vanilla.
The fragrance quickly brushes away the gloomy weather and brings a glow to the face. The romantic sound of water flowing from numerous stone fountains soothes the senses and entices a closer look at orchids in their the natural habitats. Terrestrial orchids smile back from ground level. Overhead, ephiphytic orchids suspended atop tree branches gently sway in the soft breeze created by fans.
This year, visitors can enjoy a living wall of tropical plants towering over a fountain along the south wall of the hall. Colorful ceramic balls float gently in the water, providing a Victorian touch to the displays. Signs are placed throughout the show to provide additional information on the orchids.
This year's design, developed by Pat Scace, supervisor of the Garden's floral display, was inspired by the work of Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, who was key founder of modern tropical landscaping.
In a conversation with Babs Wagner, horticulturist in charge of the orchid collection, just a few hours before the member's preview on Friday evening, she noted that Scace, who has a landscape and architecture degree, used Marx's shapes found in his architecture and planning for public spaces.
"We've been doing countries as themes for the last few years," explained Wagner, energetically adjusting a few orchids in the display. "The Garden is focused on educating the public about our research around the world. This year's show is based on our research in Central and South America where there is an incredible diversity of orchids."
Since the early 1900's, the Garden's immense orchid collection had grown to more than 7,000 individual orchid plants representing approximately 280 genera and more than 2,000 unique orchid taxa. Wagner stated that some orchids in the collection date back to the early 1900s, with the oldest dating back to 1898.
According to Wagner, getting the plenty of orchids to bloom for the annual show is a careful juggle of temperatures. "They grow naturally in a certain temperature range. I can do a little tweaking to hold the blooms back or move them along, but I'm really at the mercy of the orchids," she said with a knowing smile.
Orchid lovers will see their favorites, which are regular from year to year, confirmed Wagner. "But, you are always going to see new orchids because their bloom season varies."
Great care is taken to keep the look and landscape of the show pristine and fresh. Wagner said that spent blooms are replaced with new ones on a daily basis.
The orchid show has been presented every year since 1918, as a way of allowing the public to see orchids from the Garden's collection. "We only rotate a small number of them in a couple of areas of the garden through the year. So, this is an opportunity for people to come in and enjoy the blooms in the dead of winter," stated Wagner.
Orchid Show admission is $5 per person (ages 3 and older), in addition to general Garden admission ($8 for adults; $4 for St. Louis City and County residents, with free admission Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon; free for children ages 12 and younger). Missouri Botanical Garden members enjoy free general admission along with free Orchid Show admission.
The Missouri Botanical Garden, fondly known as Shaw's Garden to St. Louisans, contains a formal English garden, traditional Japanese garden, Margaret Blanke Grigg Chinese garden, the Flower Trial Garden, greenhouses and extensive landscaping. The garden also features the Climatron Complex, water lily reflection ponds and the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening.
The Climatron® geodesic dome and rainforest conservatory was dedicated 40 years ago in October 1960, replacing an old house built in 1913. The structure incorporates principles established by innovative architect R. Buckminster Fuller and was the first application of geodesic engineering for a greenhouse. The St. Louis architecture firm of Murphy & Mackey developed plans for the facility with Garden director Frits W. Went, who coined the term, Climatron.
The dome is 70 feet high and 175 feet in diameter, permitting tall palm trees to tower majestically above the tropical vista of streams, waterfalls and 1,200 different species of exotic trees and plants. Temperature ranges from 64 to 74 degrees and average humidity is 85 percent.
Visitors can enjoy a sense of being in a jungle while making their way by orchids, passion flowers, hibiscus flowers, cycads and a number of endangered species. In 1976, the dome was named one of the 100 most significant architectural achievements in United States history.
The Garden, covering 79 acres, is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd, just south of Hwy 44 between Vandeventer and Grand. Extended summer hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays only from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Free parking on premises, as well as an extensive gift shop and restaurant with patio dining. For more information, call the GardenLine at 314-577-9400 or 800-642-8842.
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