Inspired by Her Ancestral Connections, Lily Kwong’s Orchid Show Opens at the New York Botanical Garden

Lily Kwong's Orchid Show opened at the New York Botanical Garden on Feb. 18.


The Orchid Show returned to the New York Botanical Garden as a showcase of thousands of orchids for its twentieth incarnation on Feb. 18. The show runs until April 23, and was curated by Lily Kwong, a landscape artist.

Kwong designed the show with roots based in her Chinese heritage, incorporating elements of her childhood, such as paintings of mountains, passed down to her by her family to inspire her vision of the spectacle that the show ultimately became.

Kwong is the founder of Studio Lily Kwong, a landscape design company that focuses on botanical art, and is married to actor and comedian Nick Kroll.

Jessica Savage, an orchid expert, describes what about the show is of interest to its attending audience.

“So this year we’re highlighting Chinese medicinal orchids, so when you continue over to the main orchid show exhibition, you’ll see four genera of Chinese medicinal orchids,” Savage said.

Savage also explained the importance of the orchids, which are a large family that have evolved over a long period of time to grow differently from other plants due to their highly advanced reproductive structures.

“The pollination of orchids is highly dependent on coexistence with their natural pollinators, which would be bees or moths,” Savage said.

Savage and other experts are available at the show to offer information and knowledge about orchids on weekends from noon to 4 p.m.

People come to visit the show from all over for a variety of reasons.

Leesandra Cruz, a staff member working at the show at the botanical gardens, discussed what she felt people value about the exhibit.

“What I would say people appreciate most about the show is the plants and the diversity they have to offer, such as the medicinal plants,” Cruz said. “They really offer us a wide variety of air and food and medicine for the overall human health, so that’s what I think people would most appreciate, is the benefits that the plants have to offer us.”

Many who visit the show grow or plan to grow orchids themselves. However, it is necessary to have certain information to do so properly. The New York Botanical Garden offers a Q&A section regarding orchids during the show at its gift shop on weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. for those who are interested in growing orchids themselves.

Choko Heinsdorf, a volunteer for the Q&A program, provides insight on what people should know about when taking care of their own orchids.

“I used to work in a flower shop, [I] sold lots of orchids. Bottom line, there are things that they all need, three things are light, humidity, watering, stuff like that,” Heinsdorf said.

The Orchid Show also provides an exciting opportunity for adults who are 21 and older known as Orchid Nights, where on certain nights in March and April, people can not only come and see the exhibit, but also have access to bars serving alcohol, food, and music.

Tickets for the New York Botanical Garden that include access to the Orchid Show are available for $35 for adults, while Orchid Nights are $39.