One of my perennial favorite places to visit is the Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens. Each year is completely different from the previous year, and the exhibit is on display for two winter months. Perfect to escape Old Man Winter and to enter an exotic and tropical paradise in the Conservatory.
Considered Grand Style Gardening, Pierre S. du Pont completed the conservatory in 1921 and employed eight indoor full-time gardeners. That didn’t include the large staff outside the conservatory to manage the gardens and facilities as well. Pierre du Pont built the conservatory to be a large indoor party house that was the focal point of the expansive gardens he developed at Longwood.
There are large rooms, intimate walkways and different flower rooms that house a wide variety of plantings. During the Orchid extravaganza, orchids can be found everywhere.
Orchids of every color are on display, even a very rare Black orchid. The Orchid room always has blooming orchids on display throughout the year and are switched out three times a week for the freshest blooms. On average 200-300 orchid plants are on display. During the Extravaganza though, they rely on their 6,000 orchid plant inventory to fill the Conservatory.
Longwood is gracious to photographers and allow tripods until noon time. On the weekends, as you can imagine, is quite busy with non-photographer people visiting. Many pushing strollers that block the sometimes quite narrow pathways. As a photographer , we need to be thoughtful of others while there, moving out of the way when we need to. This way we don’t ruin this beautiful privilege the gardens provide us.
Orchids are quite the challenging floral subject to capture. There are a variety of approaches one can employ, depending on what type of image they like to capture. Whether it be the full plant, a portion of it, or a very close and intimate part of the flower, it takes time to think through the image and maneuver the tripod.
This year’s exhibit has been so wonderful that a return visit is due in short order. If you’re in the area, I hope you can visit this beautiful exhibit as well.