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One of the most talked about displays of this year’s Orchid Extravaganza isn’t even in the main Conservatory—in fact, it’s comprised of just six orchid plants and is located just outside Longwood Gardens’ Potting Shed doors. If you visited us during Orchid Extravaganza, it is possible that you could have missed it!
For the first time ever, our horticulture staff jumped at an opportunity to show our guests a very unusual bright blue orchid plant. What makes these vibrant blue flowers so unique is that they were artificially dyed. Their color was augmented by the orchid growers from whom Longwood purchased the plants.
“We didn’t plan to purchase these dyed blue orchids, but when our orchid grower showed them to us, they were unlike anything we had ever seen before—and we wanted to share these unique plants and this rare dying technique with our guests,” says display designer Jim Sutton.
Using dye to change the color of a flower is not new. However, the flower stem is typically cut and placed in colored water. The stem passively sucks up the water and dye, changing the color of the bloom. However, in this orchid display, the plant and flower stem are still intact, making it a very unique process and display. The process is unique and involved injecting dye directly into the plant.
“We won’t be using artificially colored orchids in future Orchid Extravaganza displays—however, we are happy to see that this display sparked so much conversation with our guests.”
Joe Lomicky, Visitor Programs and Interpretation, is thrilled to hear so many comments from our guests. “These dyed orchid flowers are definitely unique and are creating a lot of conversation. What I’m really excited to hear is that no matter if our guests like them or not, they all walk away with a new appreciation for the intricate, natural beauty of the over 3,000 orchids on display.”
If you missed the blue orchids the first time around, be sure to stop by the Potting Shed during your next visit.
Below is a selection of reactions to the blue orchids from Longwood guests who shared their thoughts by calling 610-717-5599:
“I thought the blue orchids were beautiful, I don’t care if it’s not an original coloration, it shows creativity. I wouldn’t want to see every orchid like that, but definitely thought it was very beautiful.”
“So far I’m taking a count of people standing here with me at the blue orchid display, and we had 10 ‘no’s’, 10 people here including me and we don’t really like it. But, the rest of everything else is just too fantastic.”
“We think the blue orchids are spectacular, eye-catching, different—we loved it”
“We just looked at the blue orchids, and although it’s sort of interesting as to how they might have done it, we really prefer the natural colors of orchids as opposed to artificial colors. There are four of us here in the group I’m with and we all feel it’s best to stick with what naturally occurs in nature. It seems a little weird—almost like you’re playing with nature.”
Have you seen our Blue Orchid display? Let us know what you think.
Then dial 101# and listen to directions to leave us your feedback.
This simple and naturally beautiful arrangement is for more than just your February 14th celebration—it’s an easy-to-assemble and affordable spring display that you can make now and refresh with new tulips until your own bulbs bloom. Longwood Gardens floral design teacher Nancy Gingrich Shenk shares with us the step-by-step process to make this Spring Blooms Arrangement. The best part? All materials you need for this thrifty piece can be found in your garden or purchased at the grocery store.
Materials you need:
10 stems tulips
6 stems of branched French pussy willow
1 water tumbler
2 rubber bands
5 yards of raffia or paper coated wire or cotton kitchen string
1. Cut French pussy willow to uniform length approximately two times the height of the tumbler
2. Place the rubber bands on the lower half of the water tumbler approximately 1 1/2 inches apart.
3. Slide the pussy willow stems under the rubber bands on the glass. Place them parallel to each other.
4. Slip the longest pussy willow tips under the rubber bands to create curls on the outer edge of the glass.
5. Use the raffia to wrap the tumbler and hide the rubber bands.
6. Fill the container with warm water and flower preservative.
7. Cut an inch off the tulip stems and drop the stems into the tumbler to create a beautiful natural design.
Nancy Gingrich Shenk has owned her own design studio for over 25 years. She trained at the Rittners School in Boston, at the Dutch Masters School in Holland and at Stoas College in Holland. Additionally, she has taught various floral design classes at Longwood Gardens for the past 18 years.
Click here to explore the list of exciting classes Nancy Gingrich Shenk teaches at Longwood Gardens. Remember, Members receive a 10% discount on all Continuing Education classes!
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Meet the arborists and gardeners that care for our trees and flowers throughout Spring Blooms, and see demonstrations throughout our Conservatory and outdoor gardens.
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Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
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Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
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