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First impressions matter. And for many visitors the first impression of Orchid Extravaganza occurs when stepping inside the entry pavilion of the East Conservatory—where four larger-than-life, violet orchid standards are planted in colossal concrete urns greet each guest.
These spherical orchid displays look more like a work of art than a floral arrangement. Each standard towers at 9-feet tall, has 120 orchids and has 26 asparagus ferns. It takes a team of eight gardeners and designers to create each one.
“Every year we get faster and better at putting these show-stoppers together,” says gardener and project leader Jason Simpson. “This is the third year we’ve done the orchid standards and it only took our team a day-and-a-half to build the four displays, which is much quicker and more efficient than before.”
How They Do It, Step-By-Step:
Simpson says Longwood’s orchid standard team starts with an empty metal 9-foot frame.
“We best describe these frames as a globe sitting on top of a large tree trunk,” says Simpson. Next, the root balls of the orchids and asparagus fern are inserted into the metal frame with a thin layer of sphagnum moss on the outside to cover the frame.
Each root ball gets held firmly in place with a long metal pin, so they all end up interlocked together.
“One of the secrets to our success lies within the center of the topiaries,” says Simpson. “The team uses plastic baggies of packing peanuts as space fillers because they’re a lot lighter than potting soil so the topiaries aren’t any more top heavy than need be," Simpson explaines.
Finally, each flower stalk gets staked with a bamboo stake so that as the flowers open up and the stems get heavier, they don’t all settle toward the bottom and the topiaries keep their shape throughout the display.
(See photo of the orchid standard assembly above).
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Enjoy family-fun activities, an outdoor concert, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
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Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
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Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
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