Dazzled and dazed in the company of orchids

Floral delights

The subtle fragrance of the blooming flowers pulls you in their direction; their sight lifts jaded spirits, leaving one rejuvenated. Perhaps, that is why the culture of gifting bouquets, be it at a  celebration or a loss, is so popular.

When Metrolife learnt about ‘The Wonderful Life of Orchids’, an exhibition of live orchids and flowers being organised in the India International Centre recently, we couldn’t miss out on experiencing this beautiful spectacle. Enticing flora buffs in the City was an expansive display of orchids from the Northeastern states along with a multitude of photographs and hybrids from different parts of India and abroad.

A stroll inside the art gallery for the orchid exhibition did throw us into a tizzy--the room was resplendent with the exotic blooms, but the scientific jargon, and the text explaining the history of orchids in India was a little overwhelming for a casual visitor. Nevertheless, the representatives of Botanical Survey of India came to everyone’s rescue, enlivening our ‘flower-walk’ in the gallery with their rich knowledge of flora as they revealed some interesting anecdotes about the flowers.

Dr Chandan Singh Purohit, a representative of BSI Sikkim, introduced us to Papheopadillum, saying, “Do you see these pouch-like flowers? Because of their shape, these are commonly called Lady’s Slippers!”  He went on to add, “Perhaps that’s the kind of puffy slippers that Queen Victoria used to wear in the 18th century. This variety of flowers is also sometimes referred to as Queen’s Slippers.” Fascinating, isn’t it? The exhibition had around eight hybrid forms of Lady’s Slippers, and every time anyone encountered a curled up lip of a flower, they exclaimed, ‘Is it also a Lady’s Slipper?’

Offering a whiff of aroma from a packet, another
representative quizzed us on what it was? Then he introduced us to a flat-leaved Mexican vine whose flowers bloom into a fruit that produces
vanilla essence.

Owing to their stunning beauty, 14 countries in the world have orchids as their
national flower. Though India takes pride in its national flower Lotus, interestingly, the exhibition emphasised on a rare variety of orchid that is found in our country. Vanda Coerulea is a blue coloured orchid, characterised by branches of large showy blue flowers, commonly found in the Northeastern belt of India. Since, blue Vanda ripen
during the months of November and December, Delhiites could only delight in the red Vanda flowers on display in the exhibition.

Though this time out with orchids was a delightful experience, it was dismaying to see the blooms withering owing to the extreme temperatures in Delhi. Dr Chandan explained, “For instance, Lady Slipper’s require around 80 per cent humidity in the air, there’s hardly 25 per cent humidity down here in the Capital for the plants to sustain this long.”

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