Phew! It’s been awhile since I posted about my move to Washington, DC. Well, I’ve been here for almost a month now! I’ve finally reached the point where I feel settled enough start exploring my new city. So last Friday morning I took my first ride on the DC Circulator over to the National Mall, where I hit up the Hirshhorn Musem. Everyone else is visiting this museum for the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibit, but I went because it’s hosting an orchid exhibit through May 14!
The exhibit is called Orchids: A Moment and consists of a range of orchids in bloom from the Smithsonian Gardens’ orchid collection. They are also hosting a series of gallery talks about orchids, and they were holding one the day that I went but the museum was so bustling that I didn’t want to deal with trying to go to the talk (I really hate crowds).
At first I was a little disappointed that the exhibit was just a wall of orchids in the lobby…but I’m not exactly sure what I had expected. Once I started checking the orchids out I was thrilled to see some that were new to me, like this Prosthechea:
I’m not sure which variety the Prosthechea was; I asked the museum worker and she told me, but it was a long name that I promptly forgot. The exhibit’s website has a grid that identifies each orchid, but it lists a Paph in the spot where the Prosthechea was located. I believe the name started with a “b.” If you have any idea what this orchid is, feel free to let me know in the comments!
Moving on! Here’s another beautiful orchid that I was not familiar with: Caularthron bicornutum.
And another: Dendrobium uniflorum:
I can’t seem to find this next orchid on the identification grid (the navigation is not very user-friendly), but I think it might be some type of Cymbidium, or maybe Epidendrum?
There were plenty of orchids that I was already familiar with, like this gorgeous Jackfowlieara Appleblossom:
Here’s a Brassia Rex:
And a stunning Phragmipedium Memoria Dick Clements:
There was a lovely Zygopetalum—my favorite orchid!—but it was positioned too high up for me to get a decent photo.
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time at the Hirshhorn because it was too busy for me—I basically just looked at the orchids, took a spin around the gift shop, caught a couple Pokemon (haha), and left. Even though it was raining by the time I left, I strolled on over to the U.S. Botanic Garden and checked out their orchid collection, which I last saw about three years ago. The USBG is on the southeastern edge of the National Mall, near the U.S. Capitol, and as with all Smithsonian institutions, it’s free to enter. They have an entire room dedicated to orchids! While it’s not a huge room, they have a nice variety on display at all times. Here are some of my favorites from this visit:
This next orchid is rare and is certainly the most unusual one that I saw during my visit. That big, flat mottled purple thing is called a rachis, and the blobs in the middle are the buds and blooms! The buds at the top were closed, but the ones down near the bottom were open. They look like beetles crawling up a fat purple leaf. This thing seems almost alien. SO COOL!
The blooms on this orchid were TINY—even smaller than the Prosthechea at the Hirshhorn! I’d say they were maybe three millimeters in size, max.
This orchid was located outside the main orchid room, but it caught my eye because it was HUGE and the blooms were so unusual—very thick and fleshy.
The larger of the two Vandopsis gigantea plants was probably about two feet tall. This pic will give you a better sense of its size:
And last but not least, here’s a Vanilla planifolia plant that has clearly been creeping up this very tall wall for quite some time! I’d guess that wall is fifteen feet high minimum (I could be way off):
So that’s it for my first orchid adventure as a DC resident! I hope you enjoyed my photos. 🙂