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We all know that New York is one of those places where you can find anything you could possibly want. You might be surprised to hear that in the north of the city – more explicitly in the Bronx, there is one of the largest Botanical Gardens in the US. If you have already seen most of the well-known spots in New York and are looking to explore some other neighborhoods, the New York Botanical Garden might just be the hidden gem you were looking for.
NYBG was founded in 1891 and spans over a 250-acre area, with over 50 different themed gardens and greenhouses. The Botanical Garden is located in a 50-acre forest which consists of thousands of 300-year-old and 36 meter high trees and also features the Bronx River and an enchanted waterfall.
The Orchids Show in the New York Botanical Garden
A main characteristic of the NYBG is that the themes of the gardens and shows change regularly, always offering an impressive variety of plants and flowers. Every year in the spring, NYBG is presenting the Orchids Show in the beautiful Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which it is especially famous for.
We were lucky enough to be able to see a preview of the show at the NYBG media and press event in 2017, during which we learned that this year’s 15th anniversary of the Orchids Show was specially tailored towards Thai cultural influences. And indeed, we felt like we were in a foreign world – and not in the Bronx – because the entire greenhouse was beautifully decorated inspired by the Thai theme. The tropical and humid air creates the perfect surrounding for thousands of orchids of different colors, shapes and fragrances to blossom.
Thailand in New York City
Thailand is seen as the Mecca for growing orchids, as the climate is beneficial for the plants to blossom. There are over 1,200 native Thai species of orchids, which grow everywhere, even on the trees along the streets in the middle of Thailand. In Thai culture colors and symbols are crucial – one of them being the elephant. If you take a closer look at the decoration of the orchid show, you can find many elephants among the plant arrangements as well as on the golden lanterns hanging from the ceiling. They have hung up in groups of 9 always, which is the Thai’s lucky number and the lanterns are supposed to keep away bad spirits.
Thai culture in NYBG
Another highlight of the exhibit is the frame of a “sala”, which is a traditional Thai pavilion, covered with stunning orchids. Other south-Asian cultural influences are also present in the form of shrines, which are put up for protective spirits.
Among the many details in the arrangements, you can find ponds with water lilies and even little pineapple plants, giving the whole exhibit a special atmosphere, which enabled us to escape the New York winter for a couple of hours. For us, the NYBG Orchid’s Show is a paradise of colors and fragrances, very recommendable for nature-lovers. Yet another reason to explore this beautiful place: if you have a New York Pass, the admission to NYBG is free!
I fell in love with NYC when I was young and visited for the first time. This love has only grown over the years and has grown into a full-grown passion. I’m always on the lookout for better deals, more things to do, and the best tips & tricks that I wish I knew on my first couple trips to NYC!