It's been a long cold winter here in the Northeast, so when a friend suggested we get together to visit the New York Botanical Expo I jumped at the idea. After all the grey and slush I was ready for some colorful blossoms and the illusion of a tropical paradise!
So last night we headed to Gotham Hall, an event facility in a former bank located in the heart of the garment district at 38th and Seventh Avenue. Inside were thirty purveyors of exotic plants with a special emphasis on orchids, all gorgeous and all for sale.
Now I'm not much of a green thumb, but I love orchids even if I can't grow them. I think I really became intrigued with these marvelous flowers after reading Susan Orlean's 1998 bestseller "The Orchid Thief". In it she investigates the arrest of plant dealer John Laroche and a group of Florida Seminoles for poaching a rare "Ghost Orchid" on the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. What was so fascinating with this story was the devotion of these orchid collectors - as fervent a passion to possess a perfect or rare example as any art collector. It was not just the hunt, it was the sheer pleasure of ownership that drove these devotees to break the law to acquire the perfect specimen. But what makes orchid collecting different from art or coins or postage stamps, is that plants are living things and will not endure forever.
But back to "Blooms on Broadway". This weekend, New Yorkers have the possibility to view over 500 varieties of rare, collectible plants from vendors as far away as Japan, Hawaii and Ecuador. The public is also offered a chance to attend seminars and question and answer sessions with expert growers and it is a great opportunity to learn more about these exotic flowers.