Orchids, Magnolias, Daffodils & More
Marc and I always try to visit the New York Botanical Garden when the Magnolia Grove is in bloom. This year, we also wanted to catch the Orchid Show in the Enid Haupt Conservatory. Tuesday, April 4, was a beautiful, suddenly free day, so off we went.
We knew the Corpse Flower (Titan-arum, Amorphophallus titanum) in the Conservatory was also expected to bloom soon. But that’s not why we went. We were already on the train when Marc got a NYBG alert that the blooming had started the night before and the flower would last only 24 to 48 hours.
Talk about luck. Each individual plant flowers only once every five to seven years or more. The last time one flowered at NYBG was in 2018.
You hear a lot about how stinky the Corpse Flower is, so I was prepared—and, frankly, a little disappointed. Yes, it stinks but not that much. Perhaps the odor was already fading by the time we arrived. It smelled, but only faintly, really. It didn’t make our eyes water and we didn’t have to hold our nose.
We saw part of the Orchid Show on our way to the Corpse Flower, the rest as we wandered through the Conservatory afterward. The show runs until Sunday, April 23. Here’s a glimpse. Apologies for not identifying each variety of orchid. I always mean to, then get too mesmerized by their beauty.
Marc was blown away not only by the varieties of orchid on display but also by the imagination and work that went into creating and staging the exhibit. Awestruck, he says. Transportive.
The last image in the slideshow below isn’t an orchid. It’s a Crimson Bottlebrush we saw as we passed through another part of the Conservatory. It’s a wonderland.
Then, after a coffee and danish break at the Pine Tree Cafe, we took a leisurely walk over to the Magnolia Grove and got lucky again.
We’d been checking the NYBG Bloom Tracker, which had the magnolias stuck at 30% of the way toward peak bloom for days. That didn’t seem right. Once magnolias start blooming, things happen fast. So I called NYBG on Monday (when it’s closed to the public) to ask about that, and the helpful woman who answered the phone said, oh, yes, the tracker needed to be updated. We checked it again on our way out Tuesday morning, and it had been reset at 60%.
But how to interpret that? All the blooms were 60% open? Sixty percent of the trees were now in flower? We decided to find out for ourselves and are glad we did. Today, one day later, the tracker puts the magnolias at peak bloom. Again, apologies for not identifying each variety. But, again, I just got too swept up in their beauty. And the perfume!
And on the walk to and from the Magnolia Grove, there were the Daffodils, ranked on the Bloom Tracker today at 80% of the way to peak bloom.
Some cherries were blooming, too. I didn’t get photos of them. As of today, the Tracker puts the cherry trees at only 40% of the way to peak, so there’s still time to see them if you hustle.
And as if that wasn’t enough beauty for one day, there was the moon rising last night, just shy of full, as a dear friend and I walked home from dinner. Gazing at it again later from our apartment window (Marc and I are blessed with a wonderful view), I wondered if the blooming of the Corpse Flower might be tied to the full moon. I just googled that and found a 2019 article in The Columbian in which a professor of molecular science who grew one from seed says, in his experience, it is.
It wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve had plumeria that loved moonlight, too.