Just as I wonder
whether it’s going to die,
the orchid blossoms
and I can’t explain why it
moves my heart, why such pleasure
comes from one small bud
on a long spindly stem, one
blood red gold flower
opening at mid-summer,
tiny, perfect in its hour.
—opening stanzas to “The Orchid Flower” by Sam Hamill
The New York Botanical Garden’s annual Orchid Show in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory ended on the 19th of April. The Orchid Show is free with the general admission fee to the Garden. This year’s theme was Orchid Chandeliers. The themes get lost in the beauty of the surroundings and the flowers. The colors, shapes, sizes and fragrances of the orchids can transport anyone to another world.
The Ancient Greeks believed that Orchis was the son of a nymph and a satyr. While celebrating at a feast for Dionysius, Orchis committed sacrilege; he attempted to have relations with a priestess. He was torn apart by wild beasts. Orchis’ father prayed that his son be made whole again; instead the gods allowed him to metamorphose into a slender, flowering plant.
Orchid petal in you I see, a
life worth living and with
you I’ll be. Love don’t come
In pearly light but you smell
and look deeper than my
sight. Like an orchid flower
you are to me, a dream to
dream, a vision to see.
—from “Orchid Beauty” by Andrew Vassell
The orchids bloomed
but no one noticed them
under the white sheets of snow…
or in the company of
the lone pillars of marble
—“The Orchids Bloomed” by Gina Ann
Your colors diffuse in hushed streaks
as empty spaces also become orchids
and butterfly petals reach for a scent
their counterparts in rain.
A fringed April is actually an orchid.
—“Wild Orchids” by Colin Carpenter
Orchids were thought to be powerful aphrodisiacs, the food of satyrs. We can thank the Ancient Greeks for the genus name órkhis, meaning testicle, because of the shape of the twin tubers in some species of Orchis. Ancient Greek women believe they could determine the gender of their unborn children with orchid roots. If the father ate large, new tubers, the child would be male; if the mother ate small tubers, the child would be female.
Delicate butterfly orchids
stand paper thin and tall
Perfect pout pink lip-gloss kisses
with proud protruding power jewel centre
sign of life and hope
renewed strength and passion
Powerfully poised petals
gently nod affectionate ‘I love you’s’
long since they were given as gift
bringing forth renewed romantic setting
an idealistic reminder every day
—“Pretty Orchids” by Anaisnais
A symbol of rare beauty
Exotic. Delicate. Mysterious
Precious, in every way
Lost in a tropical land of
I am there
Whispering with a tinge of
Innocence yet wild
With passionate dark desires.
—from “Purple Orchids” by Farah
Most men go throughout life
Searching for the perfect Rose
Wasting away the Orchids
Only to learn what I know
It pricks you with its thorns
Once your distracted by its beauty
But an Orchid remains the same
Soft to the touch and pretty
—from “My Orchid” by Danny Day
Click here to see photos from last year’s Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden.