We may have been seeing the sun more since the beginning of this month, but it’s still winter, and we’re tangling with icy winds, snow and grey days more often than not. It’s the norm, to be sure, but regardless of how many times we’ve been through it, it can tend to drag us down. That’s why we’re always glad to find relief from the dregs of winter, and why the beautiful colors of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s annual orchid show are a sight for sore eyes.
Brilliance takes a simpler approach than some of the garden’s previous themes–but it works so well on so many levels. As you’d expect, it references the beauty of these entrancing blooms, but not solely superficially. Brilliance instead explores the biological function of the various orchid’s colors, shapes and textures.
Though it took a little while to get there, the rich purples, magentas, blues and greens readily highlight both the delicate yellows, whites and peaches and the intense purples, pinks, oranges and reds of the orchids, and simple geometric planters and decorative accents create great sightlines. Mirrored spheres and prismatic string art emphasize the importance of color. Brilliance is modern, clean, and simple, and it serves these gorgeous botanicals well. With Brilliance, you feel most compelled to simply enjoy the orchids just as they are, without distraction. Lights and paint colors only highlight each glittery soft petal, and some of the foliage choices, which range from minty muted moss to lush lime green fronds, really serve the main attraction well.
We’re not averse to a focus on locale or to learning more about the orchid’s place in fashion and pop culture, but we really appreciate this more straightforward approach. There’s still plenty to learn, as the Chicago Botanic Garden always wishes to help educate visitors on the beautiful plants they’re seeing on the premises, but it’s again, more focused on the biology, looking at how these colors attract the pollinators necessary for the plant’s survival, and other events during the show’s run help visitors learn to take care of and purchase (on the weekends) their own orchids, which garden staff emphasizes are not that tricky to take care of.
Walking around Brilliance is a treat for the eye at every bend of the path through the greenhouses it resides in, from grand archways of blue to floating islands full of life. The goal was to highlight the orchids’ colors in unexpected ways, according to their “making of” blog post, and they have certainly accomplished that.
You can visit the show now through March 22nd, and might want to consider a date night out for Orchids After Dark, where you can experience the show in the evening while taking in a range of interesting cocktails and light bites. For more information on the programming surrounding the show and to get tickets for Brilliance, click here.