You are here

The Making of our Orchid Meadow

By Sam Hoadley, on February 6, 2015
SHARE

A parterre pool, one of the spaces transformed into the Orchid Meadow. Photo by Bud Spitzer. A parterre pool, one of the spaces transformed into the Orchid Meadow. Photo by Bud Spitzer.

Inspired by Longwood’s new Meadow Garden, our indoor “Orchid Meadow” features some of the most unique plants in this year’s Orchid Extravaganza display. The indoor Meadow consists of several Carex species and foliage plants as well as between 300 and 350 individual orchids. We sourced the orchids from specialty nurseries around the country to create a mix of less common plants as well as some tried-and-true favorites. The display highlights species and smaller orchids that we are not able to get in large quantities.

The same parterre pool, with the completed Orchid Meadow display. Photo by Candie Ward. The same parterre pool, with the completed Orchid Meadow display. Photo by Candie Ward.

Our team transformed four beds in our East Conservatory into this miniature landscape, with each bed showcasing a unique design and vignette of orchids. In total, it took three days to construct and arrange the Meadow.

The parterre pools in the East Conservatory are drained and covered with a permeable weed barrier before the installation can begin. Next, we add plastic nursery bench tops to reinforce the pools where heavier elements, such as stumps and logs, will be placed. Then we begin to build up the rear portions of the Meadow with bold-foliaged tropical plants, including Cordyline, Juncus, Schefflera, and Dracaena.

The team bringing in plants to construct our display in the East Conservatory. Photo by Nancy Bowley.The team bringing in plants to construct our display in the East Conservatory. Photo by Nancy Bowley.

Large elements in the Orchid Meadow create a framework for later work. Photo by Sam Hoadley.Large elements in the Orchid Meadow create a framework for later work. Photo by Sam Hoadley.

Veins of brown, gold, green, and blue are artistically punctuated with the tall flower spikes of orchids. Photo by Sam Hoadley.Veins of brown, gold, green, and blue are artistically punctuated with the tall flower spikes of orchids. Photo by Sam Hoadley.

As the Orchid Meadow takes shape, our gardeners layer in smaller orchids. Photo by Sam Hoadley.As the Orchid Meadow takes shape, our gardeners layer in smaller orchids. Photo by Sam Hoadley.

Next, we concentrate on arranging smaller orchids into detailed scenes, creating focal points near the stumps. The team uses bulb crates, stacking them to create height variations and backdrops for detailed elements. Once the miniature orchids are arranged in their final positions, we wire them into place and use sheet moss and filler plants to conceal the pots and hardware.

The southeast corner of the Orchid Meadow. Photo by Duane Erdmann.The southeast corner of the Orchid Meadow. Photo by Duane Erdmann.

In the southeast corner of the Orchid Meadow, the bulb crates are mixed with stumps and wood fragments to create the feeling of a much larger base. Once the ferns and moss are added, the display comes to life and brings to mind a mossy woodland floor, in this case covered with Paphiopedilum tropical lady slipper orchids.

The southwest corner of the meadow is filled with grassy elements that transition to a large mossy area in front of the stump. Photo by Sam Hoadley.The southwest corner of the meadow is filled with grassy elements that transition to a large mossy area in front of the stump. Photo by Sam Hoadley.

The southwest corner is designed to look like a stylized woodland edge and features a large Liriodendron stump that was harvested from the woodlands on Longwood’s property. The stump itself is covered with mosses and unusual orchids including Dracula, Bulbophyllum, and several large Pleurothallis species.

The northwest section is designed to give the feel of an open meadow transitioning seamlessly into the permanent planting beds behind. Photo by Duane Erdmann.The northwest section is designed to give the feel of an open meadow transitioning seamlessly into the permanent planting beds behind. Photo by Duane Erdmann.

We achieved a grassy texture in the northwest section with several different sedge cultivars, including Carex laxiculmis ‘Hobb’ Bunny Blue, C. dolichostachya ‘Kaga-nishiki’ Gold Fountains, C. flagellifera ‘Toffee Twist,’ and a Liriope called ‘Evergreen Giant.’

Since this is the smallest corner of the display, we used bold textures and bright colors to offset the small footprint in the northeast corner of the display. Photo by Duane Erdmann.Since this is the smallest corner of the display, we used bold textures and bright colors to offset the small footprint in the northeast corner of the display. Photo by Duane Erdmann.

We invite you to visit our Orchid Meadow and explore this collection of unique orchids through March 29.

SHARE