Lessons from an Orchid Show

Indoor and Outdoor Gardening Ideas

by Sandy Swegel

Seeking solace from Winter and brown landscapes, I headed to the Denver Botanic Gardens yesterday. They have turned all their indoor spaces into a grand orchid show with orchids in the conservatory, orchids in hallways, and orchids tucked into every nook and cranny. A perfect winter escape.

Here are some ideas I got for both indoor and outdoor gardening.

Green in a Color Too.
There were intriguing green orchids underplanted with miniature green plants including mosses, creeping jenny, dwarf junipers. It was a riot of texture and color…the colors were all green but clearly, there are many different green colors: chartreuse creeping jenny and growing tips of juniper, deep dark green ground covers, bright green coleus, variegated green ivies, soft green mosses and prickly green evergreens. Oh my. This mixing of green colors and textures works outdoors especially in shadier areas too. Do what the DBG did…throw in a lone shock of purple and, voila, the planting is art.

Orchids Aren’t Just for Pots.
The orchids weren’t just sitting inside pots. Their roots were also packed in orchid bark held together by plastic wrap (disguised with attached moss) and tied to the top of trees or dormant branches. This would work in the kitchen too…how about an orchid leaning down from the top of the refrigerator…or attached to the side of the cabinet at eye level when you’re doing dishes. Orchids are very close to being air plants…they just need some humidity. Tie an orchid to a ficus tree in your living room.


Orchids Can Be Team Players.
Traditionally we display orchids as lone divas. One orchid, in its own orchid pot, on a bare surface…very modern Asian looking. But the world of orchids has changed. Once it took many years to grow orchids but now tissue cloning churns out beautiful flowering orchids so cheaply you can often get an orchid that will bloom for months for only $10 at the grocery store. The DBG used these specimens as one flower among several in container plantings. This would work outdoors too in shady moist locations.




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