The New England Botanical Garden is a stunning display of orchids

The New England Botanical Garden is a stunning display of orchids

BOYLSTON, Mass. – The New England Botanical Garden is gearing up for an annual display to bring a splash of color to visitors’ winter.


What you need to know

  • The “Patterns in Bloom” exhibit will open at the New England Botanical Garden on February 10
  • The display will feature more than 2,000 orchids and more than 30 sculptures by artist Molly Gambardella.
  • Gambardella’s work focuses on finding new uses for single-use plastics
  • The offer will be open until March 17


“Patterns in Bloom” will open on February 10, and will feature more than 2,000 orchids arranged throughout the Tower Hill location, as well as more than 30 sculptures designed by artist Molly Gambardella.

Gambardella’s work has been exhibited across the country, and she was recently artist-in-residence at the Ark Project in Yellowstone National Park. The primary focus of her work is using single-use plastic items to create artwork that mimics nature – in this case, orchids.

“I’ve done work that’s really about ecosystems and I understand how everything is connected to everything else,” Gambardella said. “When I look at how things are disposed of or used or defined as a single-use object, I just like to explore that and push those boundaries a little bit. I think it really comes down to curiosity and playfulness.”

Gambardella used single-use plastics to create the orchids, which vary in size, and will be displayed alongside real orchids currently being delivered to Tower Hill. The process was not easy, and she had been doing it for a long time.

“These things have been growing and being built in my house, which is also my studio,” Gambardella said. “So it became a huge hurdle over the five months that I was working on this. It goes from cutting the bags, to folding, to heating, there’s sewing, there’s welding, there’s bending and sculpting.

There was also some controlled chaos at the Tower Hill greenhouse, where some orchids had already been delivered.

There are more than 28,000 known species, and horticulturist Megan Varness said it’s always a very busy two-week period leading up to the show’s grand opening.

“We have some farmers that we’ve worked with for a little while now,” Varness said. “We have one grower located in Hawaii, so the vast majority of our orchids are flown in from Hawaii, two-day shipping, and then we get additional orchids from Canada, actually from Ontario.”

You can see the orchids and Gambardella sculptures in all their glory from February 10 to March 17. It’s always a refreshing change of pace for staff and visitors dealing with a gray winter, said Leah Morgan, director of exhibits at the New England Botanical Garden. .

“This time of year, it’s a really great time to bring people into the park,” Morgan said. “We have two conservatories, and we like to do this as a way to bring people in on the dark winter days with some bright and colorful exhibits. It helps us increase attendance and spark some winter cheer in people.”

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