More orchids coming to Selby in mid October

Orchids are always in bloom at Marie Selby Gardens. There will be thousands more blooms during the annual orchid show opening in mid October.


The 2019 iteration of the annual Orchid Show at Selby Gardens opens Oct. 12 as “The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia,” presented by Better-Gro. The exhibition which explores the variety and beauty of orchids found throughout Asia will run through Dec. 1.

The orchids of Asia will be set within Asian-inspired landscape design, featuring different orchid species and enabling an examination of the cultural significance of orchids, as is in Asian art, philosophy, and religion. Throughout Asia, the orchid is one of four plants, including the plum blossom, bamboo, and chrysanthemum known as the “Four Gentlemen.” Each plant signifies one of the four seasons and is associated with certain desirable human traits.

“It is exciting to work with a part of our collection that we don’t normally focus on in exhibitions,” said Angel Lara, director of Glasshouse Collections at Selby Gardens and designer of the upcoming living orchid exhibition. “While Asia is broad and diverse in geography and culture, using Asian inspired design and horticultural practices from various cultures, we will create an immersive and dynamic display in the Conservatory for this show.”

Blossoms of Asia will combine a display of living orchids in the Tropical Conservatory with an exhibition of orchid treasures from Selby’s bibliographic and preserved collections in the Museum of Botany and the Arts.

The orchids in the Tropical Conservatory will include Asian specimens from Selby Gardens’ living plant collection. The display will reference traditional Japanese garden design and horticultural practices, including ikebana, the art of flower arranging; and bonsai, the creation of miniaturized trees, in order to evoke a sense of Asia in the heart of Sarasota.

Inside the Museum of Botany and the Arts, information on Selby’s Asian orchid collection and a selection of Asian orchid spirit and herbarium specimens will be displayed. The north gallery will feature rare botanical books and prints from the Selby Research Library, coupled with ink paintings and watercolors generously lent by the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. The mix of works from Europe and Asia will enable comparisons between different styles of illustration, some representational and scientific, others decorative and symbolic.

Several exhibition-themed events and programs will accompany the show, which runs through Thanksgiving weekend. Highlights include:

After Hours Festivities: Nov. 6, 6-9 p.m. — Orchid Evening: Experience the Orchid Show with an exclusive, after-hours lighted viewing of the latest orchid displays at Selby Gardens. Live entertainment by the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, light bites, wine and craft beer tastings. $60 Selby Gardens Members; $65 Guests.

Noon-1 p.m., Wednesday Oct. 16, Talks & Lectures: — “Orchid adventures and discoveries in the Land of the Thunder Dragon with Stig Dalstrom.” The government of Bhutan, through the National Biodiversity Centre, invited Dalström in 2006 to visit Bhutan, a small kingdom in the Himalayas, to lead orchid conservation and research programs. Learn about the challenges, rewards, and many unexpected adventures of his research at this lecture.

Noon – 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13 “The Roots of The Orchid Show 2019 with Dr. David Berry.” Berry is the associate director of academic affairs and special projects at The Ringling Museum and curator of The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia. Talk explores the traditional Asian art forms, such as ikebana and bonsai, which have influenced the design of The Orchid Show 2019. Learn about the history of these art forms and how they have come to captivate Western audiences.

Noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 18, “Idealism and Ideology: Orchids in East Asian Ink Painting” with Rhiannon Paget, curator of Asian Art, The Ringling Museum.

Orchids have been a favorite subject in East Asian literati-style ink painting for hundreds of years. As one of the “Four Gentlemen,” they are among the first subjects budding artists were expected to master. Orchids provide a technical foundation to this art form and symbolized virtues upheld by the educated elite and conveyed political messages. The talk will discuss the methods of painting orchids and the changing significance they held at different times and places, with particular reference to a set of teaching materials published during wartime Japan on view in the exhibition.

“It’s our pleasure to once again serve as the presenting sponsor for the 2019 Orchid Show, said Rod Hollingsworth, president and CEO of Sun Bulb Co. and Better-Gro Products. “After more than 60 years of cultivating and growing orchids, we are very aware of the diversity and beauty of orchids. It is a privilege to share our passion for orchids through this outstanding exhibition, and we’re proud to support Selby Gardens in their efforts to preserve, protect and educate people about this remarkable family of plants.”

Major sponsors for The Orchid Show: Blossoms of Asia presented by Better-Gro include Williams Parker, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Total Wine & More, State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues.

For more classes and activities, and to purchase tickets visit


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