If seeing cherry blossom buds makes you impatient for late March, the US Botanic Garden has you (and your date…or camera…) covered with their annual display of orchids - Orchid Mystique: Nature’s Triumph.
I visited last weekend on an extremely affordable date (admission is always free), and decided that the Botanic Garden must have some of the best curators in the city.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan’s cherry blossom gift to DC this year, the orchid show has a distinctly Japanese flair. Archways span the garden court’s fountains, which take on new character with steam and floating flowers. Orchids snake through the building and hang in all colors from bridges overhead. The East Gallery houses a Japanese rock garden with near-perfect bonzai. On a less crowded weekday visit, the quiet space would complement midday meditation.
The photo exhibits in the East Gallery offer selections of native orchid photographs from photographer Hal Horwitz and North American Japanese gardens by photographer David Cobb. The images fall a little flat next to the real thing, but hanging bamboo helps weave together the photography and rock garden into a cohesive look.
Along with a series of events related to caring for orchids, Cobb will lead photography tutorials in March.
Some of the most beautiful orchids hide in the back rooms of the conservatory, so take your date through the whole garden to get the full effect. Most importantly, take a date in the first place: this is a show for lovers more than for friends.
Orchid Mystique: Nature’s Triumph runs through April 29.