Last November I paid a visit to the Los Angeles County Arboretum. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and I could not have enjoyed a more pleasant day. One of the highlights of my visit was the orchid house. It has been a while since I’ve been in a greenhouse of any kind so stepping into the orchid house was a real treat. I immediately recognized that delightful earthy smell. That wonderful aroma of damp soil and peat. The temperature was comfortable and when the misters came on, you really did get the feeling you were in a jungle. Because most of the plants featured in the orchid house are only placed there, not planted, the effect of seeing all the flowers bloom at once was amazing.
In this first photo you can see the pot down in the center that someone forgot to properly hide. Perhaps it was meant to be tucked in above behind some rocks, but the worker was called away and there it sits with its plastic pot completely in view. It’s almost like seeing the little man behind the screen in “The Wizard of Oz.” So this is how they keep everything looking just perfect all the time. I think I can forgive them for their trickery, however. Blooms really are what the public comes to see in an orchid house.
The diffused light must be just perfect for the Spanish moss and tillandsia. Look how happy they both look. I’ve always been fascinated by the way Spanish moss changes color when wet. It can go from something gray and almost lifeless in appearance to this luscious, vibrant beauty in minutes when you dip it in some water.
Epiphytes are non-parasitic, but when you see roots hugging a tree like this you do wonder if it doesn’t hurt a tiny bit. Look how the one root is pulling that bit of bark away from the tree. I forget now what plant they were attached to. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I even looked. Just these roots, clinging tightly and following every nook and curve in the bark was fascinating enough to be recorded.
One of the truly amazing things about the Arboretum is just how close you are to the plants. You really could reach out and touch most of them and yet everything is in amazing shape. The only real damage I saw on the entire grounds was where someone had scratched their initials into some of the bamboo. For the amount of visitors this garden gets each year, I would say that’s pretty amazing.
As you wind down the pathways around the trees like the one you see above, you are greeted (at almost eye level) by numerous tillandsias and orchids growing off the trees. This guy was just getting ready to put on quite a show.
These slipper orchids are actually terrestrial, but they were too cute not to share. (And why can’t my Bird’s Nest Fern look like that? So perfectly perky and green?)
They truly do save the best for last in the orchid house and that’s saying something. It isn’t easy, after all, to top bloom after brilliant bloom. But when you reach the end of the path, the ground in front of you drops down a bit so that you are slightly above, looking down on the bromelaids and tropicals below giving you the perfect angle from which to view them. Stunning isn’t it? Imagine having all that in your greenhouse.
This blog is posted in support of the monthly Epiphyte Club started by Steve Asbell over at The Rainforest Garden. Steve does a fantastic job in sharing his passion about all things tropical. If you would like to participate in Epiphyte Club, follow the instructions located at the above link. If you would like to visit the orchid house, you can find all the information you’ll need on the Los Angeles County Arboretum website.