The family Orchidaceae is probably the most fabled, mystical and celebrated plant families in the world. Orchids capture one’s attention, and pique the imagination. The diversity of flower shapes, color patterns, and artful mimicry boggle the mind. Numerous species have evolved structures and coloration that look astonishingly similar to certain insects. These plants attracts pollinators who are fooled into thinking the orchid is actually one of their own. Other orchid flowers possess fantastically elongate nectar spurs. The nectar reward is ensconced deep in the spur’s base, and only moths with extremely long proboscises can access it, and thus pollinate the plant. Some orchids are epiphytic, growing high in trees. These ploys and many others have made orchids one of the world’s most successful groups of plants, especially in tropical regions.
While Ohio has only forty-six native orchids, there are thousands of species worldwide. Indeed, it is the second largest family of flowering plants with an estimated 28,000 species. Only the sunflower family is bigger. A huge slice of orchid mania goes on display at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens on January 18th. Scads of tropical species, including outlandish hybrids that must be seen to be believed, will fill the halls. All these orchids provide stellar photographic opportunities. At times, the dizzying array of subjects makes it hard to know where to focus. Staring deep into flowers often reveals faces, animal outlines, celestial objects and other patterns that beg for intense macro work. Other plants look best in their entirety, or in showy groups. Not only is a trip through Orchid Mania productive for creating botanical art shots, it’s a great tune-up for our wildflowers and an excellent respite from winter’s cold.
Focus on Photography has arranged a special showing and workshop on Sunday, February 9th. Our group will have four hours of access to the orchids prior to the botanical gardens’ general public admission. Following a brief classroom overview of orchids and their photography, it’s off to work the plants. Following lunch, we’ll return for more orchids, or to shoot other parts of the gardens. The outdoors gardens will also be available, and they’ll offer interesting winter botany shooting.
Fee: $65.00 for Cleveland Botanical Gardens members, $90.00 for nonmembers.