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Spring Colors in Bloom at Orchid Show

By Serena Solomon | March 3, 2012 11:16am
French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc is described as a rocks star of the botany world. He invented the modern concept of "the green wall."
French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc is described as a rocks star of the botany world. He invented the modern concept of "the green wall."
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

THE BRONX — At the 10th annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden, plants are not the only thing that's green.

French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc with dyed green-hair will showcase thousands of flowers and foliage through a series of living vertical gardens from March 3 to April 22. The show will also incorporate numerous orchid galleries, tours and talks, such as floral arrangements and care of orchids.

“This time of year New Yorkers are always interested in getting some color after the grey of winter,” said Marc Hachadourian, who curates the Botanical Garden's collection of orchids year round. “Inside the conservatorium it's warm, it's humid.”

Hachadourian worked with Blanc to create the series of vertical gardens that do not require soil. Instead plants grasp nonbiodegradable felt and natural moss and are supported with a metal frame.

Visitors to the New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Show walk between "the green walls" designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc
Visitors to the New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Show walk between "the green walls" designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

Blanc, 58, has created dozens  of vertical gardens all over the world for private and public displays, including the entire facade of the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. 

“He is a bit of a rock star of botany,” said Hachadourian, as fans and reporters mobbed the designer.

“He has been able to tap into a greater palette of plants than the average designer,” he said. “He has incredible enthusiasm.”

At a Friday Orchid Show preview, Blanc was ushered through the crowd sporting green hair, a green shirt and green shoes while carrying a glass of white wine that was topped up whenever empty.

“This I found by a fast flowing stream in Mexico,” said Blanc in a heavy French accent as he knelt next to some purple-leaved foliage attached to a vertical garden. On another wall it was an orchid from the forests of India or green leaves from the slopes of Montana.

The exhibition hinted at the places Blanc had traveled to locate plants under waterfalls, in caves and on rocks.

“I wanted to create a gate to another place,” he said, while pointing to a huge orchid-covered arch.

With more then 21,000 accepted species, the orchid is one of the largest families of flowering plants and has been found in a range of climates from the tropics of Asia, to North America and even within the Arctic Circle. 

Orchards hand from a wall at New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Show.
Orchards hand from a wall at New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Show.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

The show, which took three weeks to construct, brings together orchids from dozens of countries including, Brazil, Thailand and Borneo.

For Kelsey Graham, a 90-year-old member of the Botanical Gardens, this was his seventh orchid show and the vertical gardens of flowers blew him away.

“Its beautiful. The color,” he said, standing next to a bright purple “Rainbow” orchid.