Saturday, March 31, 2012

My 15 Minutes of Fame- Virginia Home Grown

Me with Richard Nunnally on the set of Virginia Home Grown
This week I had a really fun opportunity to be a guest on Virginia Home Grown, a gardening show on my local PBS channel, WCVE.  I was on the show to promote Orchids Galore at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  For the first part of the show, the host, Richard Nunnally, visited me at the garden to get some shots of our orchid display.  Then we did a studio piece where I explained a little bit about some commonly available orchids.  I wasn't too worried about either of these segments of the show.  I figured that with beautiful orchids as my props, I couldn't go wrong!  Plus, my colleague from the garden, Director of Marketing and PR, Beth Monroe, joined me for the filming of the show, so it calmed my nerves knowing that she was there to support me.

The next part of the show had me completely nervous all week.  First of all, this is a live show, filmed in front of a live audience.  That part didn't end up being bad at all.  The way the studio is set up, there is a wall of cameras between me and the audience, so I really forgot that the audience was there.  Plus, Richard told me to look at him while I was answering questions so I eventually forgot the cameras were there as well.  The second part that made me nervous was that, during the show, viewers and audience members can submit their gardening questions and we have to answer them live on the air without any prep... eek!  I figured that most of the questions would be about orchids since that was the theme of the show, and most of them were, but there were also a few general gardening questions as well.  Although I started out a little shy, I think my confidence grew as I realized, hey, I actually know the answers to these questions and I can actually help people by answering them!  It turned out to be a really fun experience and brought some great exposure to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  I look forward to getting to do this again in the future!

The show was streamed live on the web, and they also have the full version currently on their web site.  Check it out!

Show #1201: Richard visits Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to meet the new Director of Horticulture Grace Chapman and they talk about Tropical Plants. We find out about Interior Plantscapes when Amy visits with Buckingham Greenery at the University of Virginia. Peggy Singlemann of Maymont shares her Plant of the Month, the Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Orchids Galore! at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Last Saturday, our orchid exhibition, Orchids Galore! opened at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  This was my first exhibition at the garden and I'm thrilled at the way it turned out!  After a few years working on displays with Temple University's Philadelphia International Flower Show display, it was fun to be able to implement what I learned in the past at my new garden.  I was responsible for the design layout, building material selection, planting plan, and plant material.  We had a great team working on the display, including members from the Horticulture, Education, PR/Marketing, and Children's Garden staff.

The American Orchid Society's display at the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show.
To do some research, I attended the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) in Ft. Lauderdale.  At this trade show, I found a few new plant vendors that proved to be awesome!  I also visited the Philadelphia International Flower Show, which had the theme of Hawaii!  I took so many photos of the great displays that I'm going to make that a separate blog post.
I made a trip to Waldor Orchids in New Jersey to pick up some of the specialty species.  210 orchids packed in a mini-van made for one sweet-smelling ride back to Virginia.
I wanted to tie the display into the Garden's educational mission, so working with my team, we developed a 3-part message: geography, conservation, and exploration.  You can watch a youtube video about the exhibition and its educational themes here:

We divided the planting beds into different regions of the world, displaying orchids native to each area with other native plants.  We added little cultural cues to help reinforce the idea of different continents (i.e. a digeridoo for Australia, a statue of Buddha for Asia).
Asian bed- Buddha statue surrounded by Paphiopedilum orchids and different types of Alocasias, Colocasias, and bananas.
African bed- Vanilla orchids (yes there are species native to Africa), snake plant, pencil cactus, and Plumbago along with carved masks and a walking stick from Senegal.
Indonesian bed- lots of Phalaenopsis.
Australian bed- Dendrobiums, Australian tree ferns, and Eucalyptus.

Central and South American bed- Cattleyas accompanied by lots of Bromeliads and other tropicals.

Specimen plants loaned to us by Dr. Art Burke and Patty Saint Claire
A local metal worker made these beautiful columns and arches that we dressed up with Dendrobiums, Vandas, Oncidiums, tropical plants, Tillandsias, and lots of Spanish moss..
We also used interpretive signage to tell about plant hunters who went on exploration trips to collect orchids, in many cases risking their lives.  Our third message focuses on threats to orchids in the wild, such as over-collection and habitat loss.  

Signage about plant exploration and orchid hunters.
 It was such fun designing the display and I'm already cooking up ideas for next year's display!
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