The Orangerie has been decorated to showcase vibrant colors and light.

This year’s orchid exhibition, Prismatic, will make you forget about the snow and wintry weather by introducing you to colorful flowers, rainbows, and iridescent light. An exhibition like Prismatic is no easy feat, however. After the early closure of the 2020 Orchid Show, and the continued pandemic, a lot of hard work and dedication has brought about this year’s show. 

Prismatic has been brought about by many staff and volunteers at New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill, including Exhibitions Manager Lea Morgan, Horticulturist Meg Varnes, and the entire education and horticulture departments.  

While the theme for Prismatic was decided back in the summer of 2021, Lea jumped right in when she joined New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill staff in September. 

“During my first week we had a meeting to kick off the orchid team,” Lea recalled. “We wanted to figure out what the intersection of orchids and prismatic would be, and how we were going to make everything flow and work together.”  

Lea hangs the colored film on the trusses of the Orangerie.

The common themes that came out of their talk were color and light. Orchids with their beauty and color, prisms giving off color, and light intertwined in the creation of both. Once the key ideas were agreed upon, Lea, with the help of her team in the education and horticulture departments, set out to create a layout of each conservatory and decide which installations would look best in them. 

“Everything has been a big group collaboration,” Lea said. “It’s very team oriented. I sometimes have hair-brained ideas and need people to reel me in or be like ‘no go further,’ so it’s nice to have a team who can do all that.” 

Working with the 1,400 orchids and 800 tropical plants of Prismatic is Meg Varnes and her horticulture team. Weeks before opening weekend, Meg and her fellow horticulturists, along with the help of volunteers, worked to unbox, organize, and plant the flowers in an array of interesting and jaw-dropping installations, a majority of which they also built.  

“There’s going to be orchids as far as the eye can see,” Meg said.  

Meg unboxes orchids from one of 25 boxes full of the flowers.

From towers to planters and wall hanging gutters, the team has been working extra hard to get all the flowers out into the conservatories and prepared for opening weekend.  

Make sure you explore both conservatories thoroughly in order to see all the installations and flowers. Lea is most excited to see either the prism in the Orangerie or the chandelier in the Limonaia,