Singapore's green icons in New York show

Exhibits at The Orchid Show: Singapore in New York include Phalaenopsis hybrids (above), a promenade of arches decorated with orchids (top) as well as replicas (left) of the Supertrees in Singapore's Gardens by the Bay.
Exhibits at The Orchid Show: Singapore in New York includes a promenade of arches decorated with orchids.PHOTO: NYTIMES

Orchids and the Supertrees, which are seen through replicas, are part of an ongoing exhibition in the American city

NEW YORK • Americans who have visited Singapore's Gardens by the Bay will feel right at home in this New York exhibition.

The Orchid Show: Singapore, the New York Botanical Garden's 17th annual orchid extravaganza till April 28, features the natural species and hybridised sensations of South-east Asia, taking more than 70 per cent of the display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

There are thousands of orchids, in hundreds of varieties and every shape, size and colour.

Mr Marc Hachadourian, senior curator of orchids at the New York Botanical Garden, said of the orchid: "It's actually surpassed the poinsettia as the most horticulturally produced crop in the world."

The botanical garden's partners for the show are the Singapore Botanic Gardens, whose National Orchid Garden has the largest collection in the world, and Singapore's Gardens by the Bay, a green-themed entertainment attraction where the wedding party finale in Crazy Rich Asians (2018) was filmed.

Singapore, which at one time called itself a "garden city", now labels itself a "city within a garden". The orchid is its national flower.

 Singapore in New York include Phalaenopsis hybrids (above), a promenade of arches decorated with orchids (top) as well as replicas (left) of the Supertrees in Singapore's Gardens by the Bay.
Exhibits at The Orchid Show: Singapore in New York include replicas of the Supertrees in Singapore's Gardens by the Bay. PHOTO: NYTIMES

The ambassador of the orchid's new ubiquity is the Phalaenopsis, in a Calvin Klein-underwear white. Known as the grocery store orchid, it is widely, inexpensively available and lifestyle star of everything, from luxury-condominium advertising to wellness spas.

Because of the Phalaenopsis' clean, modern, broad-shouldered success, folk are now trying to grow orchids, losing their home gardeners' fears as orchids lose their stigma as tricky plants to cultivate.

The Singapore show has two major attractions. A pair of super trees - 5.5m-tall steel armatures in the trunk-like and canopied shape of actual trees - are versions of the artificial Supertrees in a vast grove at Gardens by the Bay, which is the setting for the scene in Crazy Rich Asians.

Singapore's Supertrees, from 25m to 50m tall, are also embedded with photovoltaic cells, which collect energy - like living trees - that is used to power night-time light displays choreographed to music. And they are swathed in extra-terrestrial-looking foliage.

 Singapore in New York include Phalaenopsis hybrids (above), a promenade of arches decorated with orchids (top) as well as replicas (left) of the Supertrees in Singapore's Gardens by the Bay.
Exhibits at The Orchid Show: Singapore in New York includes Phalaenopsis hybrids. PHOTO: NYTIMES

"It's sort of a Disneyland for plant lovers," said Ms Karen Daubmann, associate vice-president for exhibitions, who visited Gardens by the Bay, and worked to replicate the super trees in the Bronx.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore's green icons in NY show'. Print Edition | Subscribe