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A visit to the orchid house

The scene within one of the glassed atria at the Franklin Park Conservatory yesterday. It wasn't a bad place to be, with temperatures in the 20's-30's F, and high winds.

About mid to late winter, I really start to miss plants - green foliage and flowers. One of the drawbacks of living in the north is the complete disappearance of such things for several months. As an antidote of sorts, I decided to visit a place I don't get to nearly often enough, the Franklin Park Conservatory. This is a big plant-packed facility; the artificial tropics come to life right here in Columbus, Ohio.

There are often themes to the exhibits, and right now - thru March 5th - it is orchids.

The massive south wing of the conservatory sports a veritable jungle, complete with water features. You'll forget it's winter in here.

There's even a waterfall (a few, actually), so of course I took the opportunity to practice waterfall photography. I wasn't alone in sporting camera gear - several other people were rigged with serious gear, snapping away. For me, it's good practice for the "real" stuff outdoors.

Orchids are the stars of the show, and they're peppered everywhere throughout the conservatory. I am no expert on orchids not native to the eastern U.S., and the identification situation is muddied by scores of hybrid combinations in cultivation. If you were unaware, the Orchidaceae is perhaps the largest family of flowering plants in the world, rivaled only by the Asteraceae, or Sunflower Family. As many of the plants are not labeled, forgive me my botanical sins should I misname some. This is one of the Phalaenopsis, and there was a dizzying array scattered throughout.

A stunning Oncidium (?) arches from a mossy wall.

I believe this is another species of Oncidium; whatever it is, it is quite the looker. It also had the good manners to grow against a plain backdrop. One of the challenges of shooting in this plant-packed environment is getting a clear shot of the target - competing plants are often in the way. Manipulating the flora in any way is strictly taboo, too. Had I thought about it, I would have brought some "bokeh sheets" - colored paper that can be held behind the subject to provide a more pleasing backdrop.

Yet another Oncidium? Whatever it is, it's cool.

If this species or hybrid was labeled, I missed it, but surely would be interested in knowing its name. It was one of the major showstoppers, and it had lots of competition.

This one and the following may be something in the genus Trichocentrum, but I am unsure.

I suspect many of the orchids in this exhibit are crosses - hybridizing orchids is a huge thing among the fanatics.

And finally, a Paphiopedilum, one of a number on exhibit. I didn't run across these lady's-slipper-like orchids until my time was nearly up. I would have loved to spent more time with them. Well, there's still several weeks before the orchid show folds up, so maybe I will.

If you live in Ohio, and are into photography, you won't be disappointed by a visit to the Franklin Park Conservatory.

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