There’s a certain part of winter that can drive you absolutely nuts. The groundhog has either seen its shadow or declined to, and you know, because you live here, that either way you’re looking at another snowstorm, another cold spell, and another cloudy grey day and the grey-brown scenery so familiar and sometimes tiresome. It’ll only be a few months before bright greens, purples and pinks are set on cloudless blue skies, but it’s hard to remember that now and again. Enter the Chicago Botanic Garden with its annual orchid show. Each year, a new theme is chosen, and this year’s, Asia in Bloom, celebrates the orchid’s place in Asian culture as well as showcasing the wonderful culture of Asia as a whole. It’s a burst of color and exotic wonder at exactly the right time to shake off the “home stretch of winter” blues.
‘Asia in Bloom’ has a quiet, meditative feel, and includes quiet places to enjoy the scenery, including a full Japanese-style dry garden, and an overall tea-house feel. The orchid holds a special place in Asian culture, representing love, beauty and grace, and you’ll be able to see that influence everywhere. Asia in Bloom presents a wonderful opportunity to see these beautiful blooms in context with the culture of the places these plants grow, and shows you the mirrored beauty of plant and place.
Throughout the exhibit, you’ll learn about the plants and the places they come from, and consider the importance of simple beauty in everyday life. One of my favorite things about the Asia theme was its emphasis on finding serenity and beauty and its encouragement to stop and really enjoy the beautiful things all around us.
Another stunner in the show is found in the beautiful craftsmanship of the traditional kimonos on display. All are adorned in orchids, with rich tones and shimmering silk adding to the drama and beauty.
Overall, this year’s orchid show contains over 10,000 blooms, and there seems to be almost as many events during the show’s run (February 10-March 25). Twice a week, you’ll be able to enjoy morning music with the orchids in Nichols Hall, and every Thursday you can take your best shot with your DSLR during Photographer’s Hour from 8:15 to 9:45 am. There’s a marketplace for purchasing the plants every weekend, and Thursday evenings bring later hours, from 4 to 8 with the addition of sushi, beer and sake on site. There’s also a special ticketed cocktail tasting amongst the blooms planned for March 7 for those 21+ who’d like to make an evening of it. You can plan a trip to Asia in Bloom and purchase tickets for the show by clicking here.