Irene Virag's Garden Party

I'm Irene Virag -- a writer, a gardener, a cancer survivor. I think ideas are like plants. They need nurturing to grow. And gardeners share both. So welcome to my blog. It’s all about what’s happening in my garden and beyond.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I stopped in at the New York Botanical Garden's orchid show recently and I'm still having orchidelirium. You can read about the did-you-ever-see-a-dream-blooming display in my Newsday column on Sunday, but the show featured everything from blue vandas to yellow cymbidiums and, well, thousands of blooms in all.

And they all seem at home amid the tropical environs of the great glass palace known as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. I don't know if I have a favorite but the one that fascinated me most during my visit was the Darwin's Star orchid.

The orchid itself would be a star by any name but the flower's connection to the man it's named for -- Charles Darwin, of course -- is an added attraction.

The star-shaped bloom is a pure white stunner with 11-inch nectar spurs. Very dramatic-looking, as you can see. When Darwin first studied the flower, he hypothesized that there had to be a moth equipped with a pip of a proboscis -- at least one long enough to get at the pollen and help keep the species, Angraecum sesquipedale -- going.

He got a lot of flak and ridicule but the originator of the origin of species was used to that. And 40 years later, the very insect -- an exotic and nocturnal hawkmoth with a nose for noodling -- was indeed discovered.

If there's a moral to the story, it may just be -- Don't mess with Charles Darwin.


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