This February, visit the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) to see two new exhibitions on display: "American Botanicals: Mid-Atlantic Native Plants" and "Orchid Symphony."
On Saturday, February 15, the USBG opened American Botanicals: Mid-Atlantic Native Plants, an exhibition of botanical illustrations. Native plants feed the regional biota, respond to our seasons and soils and reinforce our sense of place. This exhibition features original paintings and drawings of beautiful native plants and associated pollinators by members of Botanical Artists for Education and the Environment (BAEE).
These stunning illustrations of distinctive Mid-Atlantic plants visually demonstrate these vital parts of our natural heritage and will be on display in the East Gallery of the USBG Conservatory through June 15, 2014. Monthly artist led tours are available on February 16, March 16, April 13, May 11 and June 8. Preregistration for these tours is required; visit www.usbg.gov/programs-and-events for more information and to register.
Additionally, on Saturday, February 22, the U.S. Botanic Garden opens its biennial orchid exhibition. This year titled Orchid Symphony, the exhibit features orchids from around the globe in exuberant displays nestled among the Conservatory’s permanent, living collections. The orchid family contains thousands of members that are as different as their native environments and a multitude will be on display in this exhibition.
The staff at the USBG have created a sensory delight, including an orchid chandelier that will illuminate the Conservatory with the beauty of orchid cascades. Classical music and synchronized fountains provide a water and light show to captivate audiences of all ages. Topiaries in the form of instruments add whimsical focal points, all to set the stage for the most vibrant, interesting, colorful and elegant orchids.
The entry foyer at the USBG Conservatory will feature original works by artist Patricia Laspino. She describes her painting process as involving 60 to 80 transparent layers of oil color over a groundwork of botanical impressions. Two vibrant orchids in the U.S. Botanic Garden collection were photographed and used as the subjects. One of which is Cattleya 'Michelle Obama' from the First Ladies Series.
During Orchid Symphony, part of an annual collaboration with Smithsonian Gardens, the U.S. Botanic Garden will offer orchid-themed activities for adults and children, including extended hours on March 5, March 21, April 4 and April 18. Please see www.usbg.gov/programs-and-events for the detailed calendar of events.