The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope


New York Botanical Garden’s Annual orchid show comes back to life. (Courtesy of Hanna Devlin for The Fordham Ram)

From Feb. 26 to May 1, the New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) presents, “The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope.” The Orchid Show has become a principal event at NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, as the 2022 showing marks its 19th year on display. Each year’s event is curated by a different artist. In the past, NYBG has partnered with floral artist Daniel Ost, tropical plant expert Francisca Coelho and the Singapore Botanical Gardens. This year’s artist is acclaimed floral designer Jeff Leatham. 

Leatham is an award-winning artistic director who is most well-known for his work with the Four Seasons Hotel in Paris. Leathem had originally debuted his exhibit in 2020, but because its display was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has once again been given the opportunity to curate The Orchid Show. This year, rather than recreating his past exhibit, Leatham has reinvented and redesigned his image of the kaleidoscope.

As you enter the Haupt   Conservatory, you are greeted with Leatham’s image of the kaleidoscope, as mirrors reflect the bouquets of orchids at the center of the showcase. As reflections of bright orange, pink and yellow petals flicker through the glass, it’s hard to ignore the beauty that they capture. Much like a kaleidoscope, these mirrors’ reflections come together to form one cohesive and dazzling image. Just behind this display stands tall towers of orchids, drawing the viewers’ eyes up to the glass ceiling above. This burst of color greets visitors at the entrance and introduces the exhibit in a fun and exciting way.

Walking through the rest of The Orchid Show is an experience filled with color and beauty. The show displays a variety of orchid species, making the experience fresh and interesting with the constant introduction of something new. All of these flowers are bright and vibrant, though they vary in size, color and shape. Viewers are met with a kaleidoscope of colors as they walk through rows filled with various shades of yellows, pinks and purples. 

Throughout the exhibit, there are unique features that draw your eye, like an indoor fountain adorned with orchids. Set in the pre-existing conservatory, orchids are placed throughout the greenery, clinging to the trunks of trees and planted beside bushes and shrubbery. The tall ceilings of the greenhouse allow for beautiful orchid chandeliers to hang overhead as their vines drape down. Each room of the conservatory is designed to mimic different habitats that orchids live in, featuring unique varieties of the NYBG’s 2,000 species collection. Moving through the conservatory, each of these rooms provides a distinct experience. All are full of vibrance and diversity, just as beautiful as the turn of a kaleidoscope. 

After going through the conservatory and moving towards the end of the exhibit, visitors make their way back to Leatham’s kaleidoscope. By allowing visitors to look at this image one last time before exiting the greenhouse, they are once again reminded of this year’s inspiration for the show.

Tickets to The Orchid Show include an All-Garden Pass, which provides access to the NYBG grounds, daily programs and tours. These daytime passes allow access to the gardens between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. However, on select weekends the NYBG hosts Orchid Evenings, which allow access to the Haupt Conservatory after hours, opening the exhibit from 7 to 10 p.m. 

I visited The Orchid Show during the day, which I think complimented the exhibit well. Because the show is hosted in the NYBG’s greenhouse, experiencing the showcase during the day allows the viewer to take full advantage of its setting. In the daytime, the conservatory brightens as the sun shines through its glass ceilings, allowing for the orchids to bask in its light. This light allows for visitors to view the flowers at their most vivid. Additionally, with access to the rest of the NYBG grounds, visiting during the day allows visitors to take advantage of the gardens.

The Orchid Show has companion programs that allow visitors to learn more about caring for their own orchids. On Saturdays and Sundays visitors can attend both Orchid Care Demonstrations and an Orchid Basics Q&A, while more specific Orchid Classes are hosted on select dates. These programs cover the do’s-and-don’ts of orchid care, teach how to avoid common mistakes, provide tips on how to care for a sick orchid and allow visitors to ask experts how to select the right orchid for their home.

For anyone interested in buying tickets or learning more about the exhibit and its programs, visit