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The NYBG flower show.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out

Get lost in a meditative oasis at New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show

Admire more than 5,500 dazzling orchids.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

Magenta orchids cascade from tall rocks, water gently glides along a waterfall, a fresh botanical aroma wafts in and gravel paths beckon visitors to explore. That's the scene at this year's highly anticipated Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. 

The annual orchid show opens on Saturday, February 18 and runs through Sunday, April 23, offering a lush tropical escape without leaving the five boroughs. 

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Landscape artist Lily Kwong designed this year’s iteration, called “Natural Heritage,” drawing inspiration from classic paintings of Chinese mountainscapes passed down through her family from Shanghai, plus her own heritage, medicinal traditions and her artistic interpretation of nature as a healing force. She also incorporated concepts from Chinese garden design.

NYBG orchid show.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out

"I learned so much from the magic and the mysticism of these orchids. ... As we move through the exhibition, get lost in their knowledge, their beauty, their transmission," she said in remarks at the garden today. 

The show features more than 5,500 dazzling orchids of all designs and colors—with polka dots, stripes and glittery hues—in what the botanical garden's Marc Hachadourian calls "a living fireworks display." 

When you enter the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory's Palm Court to begin the journey through the show, you'll be greeted by large mossy rocks covered with vibrant orchids in all shades of purple. The orchids reflect in the pool creating an enchanting and transfixing visual treat—as well as a reminder to take a moment to pause and observe, a theme that carries through every step of the exhibit.

NYBG orchid show.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out

As the first woman of color to work as the show's guest designer, Kwong said she felt pulled to explore identity. 

"One of the core principles of the Chinese landscape practice is the peaceful coexistence of man and nature, humankind and nature," Kwong said. "And of course, we need that now more than ever. So, as much as this installation investigates my own heritage, it's an invitation for all of us to explore natural heritage. Every single one of us has a birthright to the land."

For the past 20 years, the Orchid Show has served as an exciting harbinger for spring and a celebration of the orchid's biodiversity and adaptability. These flowers are found across the globe on every continent except Antarctica, the botanical garden's CEO Jennifer Bernstein said.

"It's our privilege to be able to exhibit one of the most celebrated and most beguiling plants and to feature our unparalleled living plant collections and to educate the public about our research and conservation work through the Orchid Show each year," Bernstein said.

NYBG orchid show.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out

The show dazzles anytime you visit, but we highly recommend visiting for Orchid Nights on select Saturdays where you can enjoy the display under twinkling lights with a cocktail in hand. Tickets for Orchid Nights cost $39 and can be purchased here.

Regular admission tickets ($35 for adults) are available here. See the show at New York Botanical Garden through Sunday, April 23. 

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