Thousands of Orchids in Thousands of Hues: Botanical Garden Brings Singapore to the Bronx


The New York Botanical Garden’s annual Orchid Show offers attendees the chance to see a dazzling array of flowers. (Courtesy of Tommy Tedesco for the Fordham Ram)

By Tommy Tedesco

For the 17th consecutive year, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is hosting its famous exhibition, The Orchid Show, to start the spring season.
The theme of this year’s dazzling display of orchids is Singapore, a city with its own world-renowned botanical garden and a country that celebrates the hybrid orchid breed Vanda “Miss Joaquim” as its national flower.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the only tropical garden in the world designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses the country’s National Orchid Garden and features the famed Supertrees of the “Gardens by the Bay” attraction.

The NYBG certainly has big shoes to fill. Thankfully, the flowers on display and the renditions of the Supertrees and Arches of Singapore’s “City in a Garden” exhibit capture some of that beauty right here in the Bronx.

Situated in the Haupt Conservatory, access to The Orchid Show: Singapore can be found right by the NYBG’s main entrance on Southern Boulevard, across from Jack Coffey Field. Entrance to the Haupt Conservatory requires an All-Gardens pass, which costs $20 for students who present their ID.
Right off the bat, this might seem a little steep. There is not much else to do at the NYBG, either, since most of the outdoor exhibits are out of season.

But if you have the money lying around, it is certainly possible to make a day out of the exhibits available in the Haupt Conservatory.
Upon entering the conservatory, I was struck by the flowery aroma and humid air. The Singapore Botanic Garden is, after all, the world’s most renowned tropical garden.

The NYBG simulates this tropical climate for the health of its orchid flora and the true-to-life emulation of the National Orchid Garden experience. Make no mistake, it is not stuffy or uncomfortable. Dress light, bring some water and I am sure you will find the experience pleasurable.
The main entrance to the exhibit, which does not take up the entire Haupt conservatory, opens into a hallway decorated with beautiful flower arches — much like the Arches of the Singapore National Orchid Garden — and other hanging plants.

A few steps inside and I lost myself in the maze of flora around me. I actually stopped to look at each and every orchid. As you walk toward the exhibit’s center, make sure you do not miss this year’s featured flower, the Vanda Awkwafina, an orchid named in honor of native New Yorker and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Awkwafina. The aisle is also a great place to take a photo.

The variety of orchids on display is simply stunning. I am no orchid expert, but I left the conservatory with the knowledge that orchids can be just about any color you can imagine and that the hues are fantastically vibrant.

For those who care, each breed of flower or plant is marked with a sign providing its scientific name and some brief background, much like a sign you would find for an animal exhibit at a zoo. I learned a bit about orchid agriculture this way.

At the center of the show lies the Botans’ portrayal of Singapore’s famous Supertrees, and while it is hard to compete with the original attractions’ magnificence, there is still beauty in the simplified NYBG Supertree.

The tree is decorated to the top with orchids of pink, yellow and orange, and walkways surround it for easy viewing. For all the hype, it was perhaps a little underwhelming, but that does not mean it is not a great background for a photo or just a pretty sight to observe and contemplate for a while.

The highlight of The Orchid Show: Singapore is the Arches. They are likely what you will remember best upon leaving and certainly where I saw the most cameras in hand.

The center of the exhibit, while underwhelming in comparison, is still a sight to behold, and the closest many people will ever get to seeing the Supertrees of Singapore.

If you are a frequent visitor to the NYBG or want a fun way to leave that wintery feeling behind, you should find the time to see this exhibit before it ends on April 29. I had a great time witnessing the collision of human creativity and natural beauty in the Arches, Supertrees and displays of The Orchid Show: Singapore.