Metro-East Living

Flowers help Wally get through February. Cats? Not so much.

An orchid in bloom at the Orchid Show at Missouri Botanical Garden.
An orchid in bloom at the Orchid Show at Missouri Botanical Garden.

When winter is bleary and gray and I am facing another February, I soothe my soul with trips to the Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

The show began Feb. 4 and runs through March 26.

It’s a room of bright wonder when there is little to see outside. The purples, yellows, whites, and reds pop out among the green tropical foliage. There are benches for sitting when you need a rest or if you just want to sit and gaze for a while.

My wife and I are long-standing members of the garden society. That gets us free admission to the garden, the orchid show and some other events. Without membership you have to pay to get in the garden and the show.

The garden membership is well worth it. It’s sort of like living in the 1890s gilded age. You can roam the grounds at your ease and take in the various flower beds or sit and recharge in the Japanese or Chinese gardens.

You have lots of workers running around doing all the lawn and flower care, your own gardening staff that you don’t have to pay. There are parties to go to, concerts on the lawn, specialty flower shows and more.

There usually are several plants blooming at any one time, or in winter you can visit the Climatron and be in a tropical rain forest.

The people at the garden said they have been holding flower shows for more than 100 years, but no has been keeping track of how many orchid shows they have held. Some orchid specimens date back to shortly after the founding of the garden. The collection has grown to more than 6,000 plants that bloom at various times of the years.

The show starts with orchids that are doing well, and as those plants bloom out, others are brought in.

So the show you see in March is not the same show you see in February.

This year the show is spotlighting vanilla, the flavoring extract that is produced naturally only by orchids. The show always offers some education about orchids and the environment.

After you get your fill of orchids you can tour the gift shop, but you’ll be tempted by a large selection of orchids to buy at prices beginning around $14.

They are hard to resist and not that hard to keep alive. One rebloomer is looming over me as I write.

Others in a terrarium either have bloomed or are waiting to bloom, I hope.

On the other hand, I bought a beautiful orchid with six big flowers at a store in Belleville and within two hours the cats had managed to knock the plant over three times and break all of them.

So, let me rephrase, it’s not that hard to keep them blooming — if you can keep them safe.