by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
According the groundhog, spring is on the way! What better way to make this prediction come true is to put yourself in a beautiful, spring like environment, like the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). The popular orchid exhibition returns for its 18th year with The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope. Thousands of orchids will be on dramatic display in dazzling creations by lifestyle icon and floral designer to the stars Jeff Leatham. On view February 15 through April 19, 2020, Leatham’s captivating designs and installations will transform each gallery of the exhibition in NYBG’s historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into a different color experience, like a turn of a kaleidoscope. Arches of hanging orchids of deliberate hues will deliver a kaleidoscopic tunnel effect and, along with other design surprises, bring thrilling and hypnotic sensory delights to the 2020 Orchid Show. Leatham is working with horticulturists from NYBG, including Senior Curator of Orchids Marc Hachadourian, to assemble orchids from its collections as well as from some of the finest growers in the world. Orchids of seemingly every conceivable shape and provenance, including rare and iconic specimens, will be on display in breathtaking configurations.
Jeff Leatham is the award-winning artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, with studios also at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center and the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. He has been creating a sensation with his floral installations since he began his career in 1995. His work is a combination of his love for flowers and passion for design. Using shape, color, and simplicity, his creations are dramatic, bold, unforgettable statements that are always an integral part of the setting. Leatham has produced spectacular displays in Paris for nearly two decades, and in 2014, he was knighted with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor for artists and others who have made a significant contribution to French culture. His clients include Cher, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey, the Kardashians, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and many others. His publications, Flowers by Jeff Leatham, Flowers by Design, and Jeff Leatham: Visionary Floral Art and Design, remain best-selling design books worldwide. “Color is the first and most important aspect of my work, always,” Jeff Leatham said when describing his creations for The Orchid Show. “I want every gallery to be a different color experience for visitors as they move through them, like looking into a kaleidoscope. I loved kaleidoscopes as a child. You start dreaming as you look through one. People have seen the interiors of the Conservatory already, but with this exhibition, I want them to look through them like never before.”
We had a chance to hear and meet Mr. Leatham during a press tour a few days before the official opening date. After welcoming remarks by NYBG President, Carrie Rebora Barratt, PhD, Mr. Leatham came to the podium to speak before exhibit tour began. In an easy going style, he related how his career started and how honored he was to be the guest designer for this year’s orchid show. Taking random questions from the audience his enthusiasm for his profession, warm and charismatic style of delivery and friendly demeanor was a delight for guests becoming familiar with him for the first time. He easily conveyed the love of creating designs that are from his own imagination, rather than following the footsteps of other designers. Senior Curator of Orchids, Marc Hachadourian, led the tour through the maze of floral presentations and various settings and areas of the display, explaining about the orchids and where they were grown. There are over 30,000 varieties of orchids with 100,000 hybrids! The NYBG has over 6,000 of their own varieties grown on site. Mr. Leatham accompanied the tour and was very approachable to answer questions along the way, explaining how his theme and color scheme for the show evolved for each area. “Color is the first and most important aspect of my work, always,” Jeff Leatham said when describing his creations for The Orchid Show. “I want every gallery to be a different color experience for visitors as they move through them, like looking into a kaleidoscope. I loved kaleidoscopes as a child. You start dreaming as you look through one. People have seen the interiors of the Conservatory already, but with this exhibition, I want them to look through them like never before.”
Also, at the NYBG Shop, Orchid Show visitors may select from thousands of top-quality orchids, from exotic, hard-to-find specimens for connoisseurs to elegant yet easy-to-grow varieties for beginners available for purchase, along with orchid products and books. The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York. Visit: https://www.nybg.org/