The Orchid Show: On Broadway

Special exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden through April 25.

When you enter the conservatory for the New York Botanical Garden’s annual orchid show, you’re directed first through the permanent exhibition of desert and rainforest habitats—the latter of which is augmented with extra orchids for the occasion. In a lesser garden, this might be a drag, but the permanent exhibition is stunning, packed with plants so colorful and dramatic and unusual that they look unreal. Viewing the orchids in this context, with the accompanying literature, also provides some sense of how they fit into the natural world, clinging to the branches of a tree or huddled, small and secret, on the forest floor. Amid their native compatriots, the flowers seem all the more precious for being uncultivated and wild, not tame hothouse flowers but savage beauties, their grandeur innate in their bold colors and extravagant petals.