Behind the Scenes at the 2015 Orchid Show

It’s a sneak peek behind the scenes of our annual Orchid Show! (Purchase tickets here.)

All hands are on deck as the last orchid shipments have been delivered, the ladders are lowered, the final moss gets tucked in, the lights get positioned, and the delicate task of watering and caring for 10,000 orchids begins.

Behind the scenes, it’s been quite a production, and staff have been documenting it all. Their “befores” and “afters” give you an idea of the complex and wildly creative infrastructure that supports all those gorgeous orchids. 

Looking forward to seeing you there—and don’t forget your camera!

PHOTO: Boxes of orchids lined up for unpacking.
Organized orchids: as boxes and boxes of orchids from warm-weather nurseries arrived, they were staged in Joutras Gallery…
PHOTO: Unpacked orchids await final placement on rows of tables in Nichols Hall.
Unpacked orchids line tables as they await placement in the exhibition.
PHOTO: Horticulturist Liz Rex unravels Vanda roots.
Patience and a horticulturist’s touch: root-bound Vanda orchids had to be teased out of not one, but two pots each, root by root.
PHOTO: Vanda orchids in the greenhouse.
Each Vanda is then tucked into the displays in the Tropical Greenhouse.
PHOTO: Horticulturist Heather Sherwood creating orchid chain.
Upcycling at its best: horticulturist Heather Sherwood trimmed ten years of wisteria vine growth from the English Walled Garden…
PHOTO: Finished orchid chain.
…then hung it inside the skylight as a backdrop for these “waterfall” chains of mini Phalaenopses.
PHOTO: Notched bamboo supports await orchid plantings.
What a difference a week makes! Last Friday, bamboo supports in the Bridge Gallery looked like this.
PHOTO: Dendrobium orchids fill bamboo supports.
This week, Dendrobium orchids are being layered in, transforming the entrance to the Orchid Show.
PHOTO: Staff plant up the bamboo trees and wire baskets to create orchid trees.
Building orchid nests: the size of a small tree, each orchid “nest” holds 175 to 200 brightly colored orchids.
PHOTO: A blooming Phalaenopsis orchid tree in the exhibition.
Finished “trees” in both bud and bloom ensure peak blooms throughout the show.

©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and

Published by

Karen Z.

Karen Zaworski is a writer who likes to use as few words as possible, a photographer who still works with black-and-white film and a darkroom, and a gardener who actually likes to weed.

2 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes at the 2015 Orchid Show”

    1. We share your enthusiasm! Wait ’til you see these gorgeous orchids in person–many are fragrant, too.

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