I’ve considered two openings for this post. Which do you like better?
If you’re in a house designed to keep everything warm and balmy, but when you came in from the outside you ended up cooler, can you still call it a hothouse?
If we know flowers for their flashy colors, their amorous aromas, and their plethora of shapes and textures, is it fair to classify them as conservative? If not, why would you find them a conservatory?
To be fair, I’ve never heard of a liberal-tory. I bet that sort of place would be good for experiments, trying to improve on the status quo.
Mother Nature has been experimenting for eons, and the changes she’s come up with are doozies. I’m not sure if she’d qualify as a liberal because she’s made such radical changes from where everything started, or a conservative because it took her so damn long.
Before we go down this rathole even further, let’s cut to the chase.
In my last post, we left off at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, on the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina. In part one we roamed the grounds outside, under the hot sun. But there was another section we visited, indoors, in a conservatory – or hothouse. (That’s a greenhouse, for those are still questioning the terminology. You know, one of those glass houses where you shouldn’t throw stones?)
This particular hot-vatory had an assortment of goodies, but orchids were front and center. Orchids are the high fashion models of the flower kingdom: long skinny legs, a variety of looks, lots of colorful make ups, and according to some, finicky to work with.
The truly hoity-toity high fashion models pose in black and white photos. Far be it for the orchids to miss a beat here.
While the orchids may think they’re the center of the floral universe, there are other types around. Including a few that don’t like to get their feet dirty.
You may think these airheads (Tillandsia) would be high maintenance. But no. All they need is a place to glom onto with their roots (but none of that nasty dirt stuff), and someone they can tell “play misty for me”. (Extra points for those who recognize that vague reference.)
Ok, ok, so I gave orchids a bad rap. They’re actually air plants themselves, but are more finicky than the Tillandsia. This is in part because there are so many varieties, and they don’t all march to the same drummer.
Then there are plants that have a really different drummer…
This isn’t the stem of a rose on a massive overdose of plant steroids. I don’t remember exactly what it is, but research suggests it may be a small Kapok tree. Or a Ceiba tree. Or a Silk Cotton tree. Likely all of the above. Whatever it’s called, it gets really, really tall, and those inch-long thorns give the impression it’d be a bad place for a bear to get a back rub.
At least they impressed this lady.
Or guy, maybe. It’s not fair to assume only ladies wear funny hats.
The tree wasn’t the only dangerous looking beastie in the hothouse. This very grown up version of a Venus Fly Trap looks like it would happily eat your arm for lunch. Feed me, Seymore. (More points here for recognizing a vague reference.)
It turned out we visited the gardens during a glass art exhibition. So, not only would this Fly Trap give you it’s best disarming smile, it would leave glass shards behind for good measure.
It wasn’t the only carnivorous critter with a glass jaw in the house. This guy looks like a cross between an orchid and a pitcher plant, waiting to slurp down some gigantic insect. Frankly, I think I’d rather face off with this than a two-foot wide spider.
Orchid? Carnivorous plant? 50/50? Whatever it is, it was big and impressive, and I have no clue how the glass artist pulled it off.
How about a picture of pitchers? Although, even if they’re glass pitcher plants, I don’t know if I’d want them on the dinner table. Who’d be hungrier? Who would suffer more from acid indigestion?
Call it a hothouse, call it a conservatory, call it an orchid house; whatever the name, it was an impressive display of art – both human and natural.