The Fashionable Orchid:
Orchids are like those Brazilian supermodels you can’t help but gaze at with awe and envy. They turn heads with their leggy stems that end in a beautiful, distinctive flower. They are strong, delicate and as exotic as a foreign-speaking enchantress, adding drama to a variety of settings.
Orchids are commonly regarded as the trademark plant in a fashion editrix’s office, the no-fail gift given to a Hampton hostess or corsage liberated from a plastic salad container and pinned to a taffeta dress. However, their lineage is as impressive as the House of Windsor, dating as far back as the 5th century B.C. When Confucius preached his wisdoms, he compared a room fragrant with orchids to the sensation of seeing good friends.
In medieval Europe, the flowers took on a more romantic context, as they were considered to have aphrodisiac powers in their subliminally sexual Georgia O’Keeffe shapes. Thus, herbalists used the dried tubers to make love potions.
Not just the centerpiece in an acoustically exquisite loft styled with Bauhaus furniture and dwellers in deconstructed clothing, today orchids add understated elegance to any style of home with their simplistic beauty. In a light-infused corner, a gathering of orchids has the festive feel of a group of dancers. They pacify a manic space, such as a bookcase or bar trolley littered with bottles. A red orchid aside a painting that plays off its color will steady a roaming eye. Orchids planted in containers with unexpected colors will perk up a light space, while a single orchid will be the featured star in the center of a mantel. They even thrive in a bathroom vignette. Finding a setting is only difficult in that there are many places to feature your plant; you may just have to buy more than one.
The harvesting of orchids found in the wild is now banned due to their endangerment. Though orchids such as the Phalaenopsis (or Moth), Cymbidium and Dendrobium can be purchased anywhere from Lowe’s to Trader Joe’s.
A Diverse Family:
Forget the snowflake, when it comes to the subtle variety of this species, the orchid reigns. Marc Clark notes that there is no such thing as a typical orchid, with as many as 30,000 wild species that have been described.
Marc Clark of Rocket Farms, a superior-quality orchid farm on California’s central coast, offers the following tips when selecting your plant:
A History Break:
The meanings of orchids have included such messages of wealth, love and, to the ancient Greeks, virility. The Aztecs drank them in a mixture of vanilla to improve strength, while the Chinese used them for their medicinal properties. In Victorian England it was considered a symbol of luxury-almost a sport- to collect and care for such a rare tropical species.
Today, they are prized for their rare beauty and happen to look great staring out your kitchen windowsill.