Right this minute in New York City, it’s still mighty cold outside. But up in the Bronx, a taste of the tropics is in full bloom with today’s opening of The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden. “The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope,” is the garden’s 19th-annual exhibition of tropical flora. The show is named for its designer, Jeff Leatham, an award-winning floral designer and the creative director of George V Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotels in Beverly Hills and Philadelphia. An earlier version of Leatham’s show opened at NYBG in 2020, but was closed prematurely because of the pandemic.
As suggested by the show’s title, Leatham worked with NYBG curators and collections, as well as other prominent growers, to fashion an experience meant to shift and evolve slowly, like peering through a slowly turned kaleidoscope. “My reinvention of ‘Kaleidoscope’ will be totally different installations than two years ago,” Leatham said in a statement provided by the garden. “Every turn will display a new vision, while maintaining the thematic element of every gallery focusing on a different color experience.”
Mission accomplished, according to our photographer, Sai Mokhtari, who wrote of her visit:
“It was a breath of fresh air…even through my mask. Felt fresh, refined and balanced. Following the kaleidoscope theme, the installation works to make you feel like orchids are coming from all angles. Orchids hanging from above, coming up from columns in the ground, using pools of water for ‘infinite depth’ as they put it, to make the audience feel immersed. The main installation is almost all white and purple… the restraint and limited use of colors, especially when presenting the flowers in so many different ways, made it feel especially cohesive and refined. Doesn’t smack you in the face with the color explosions and ‘tropical vibes’ I might have expected, but the more time I spent in it the more I appreciated the restraint.”
“The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope” is on view at the New York Botanical Garden through May 1.