Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Orchid volunteers, please

A fascinating new orchid project is asking for volunteers.

The Natural History Museum has launched Orchid Observers to investigate how climate change is affecting orchid flowering times.

Scientists have noted that the flowering time of the early spider orchid, Ophrys sphegodes, is clearly affected and they want to find out how changes in the environment are affecting other wild orchids. They are asking people to look out for flowering orchids, take photographs and upload them, with the date and location, to the project website.

Also, as part of Orchid Observers, which is in collaboration with the University of Oxford's Zooniverse, people can help digitise historical orchid collections by reading and recording label information from the more than 10,000 museum orchid specimens.

The plan is to combine these observations with historical records to span nearly two centuries to compare against climate records over the same period.

The results could inform future research on how climate change affects not just individual species, but whole ecosystems.

The man orchid (Orchis anthropophora) is found in southeast England and begins flowering in early May to late June.

By Pamela Kelt

Friday, 24 April 2015

Hanging gardens of ... Tokyo

An extraordinary garden is delighting visitors to Japan.

A few years ago, before I came down with this serious dose of orchidmania, I would not have believed that these were all the same species, given the astonishing variety of form and colour. Now I know better.   

A suspended, living arrangement of 2,300 flowers rise and fall around viewers as they move through the space at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. ‘Floating Flower Garden: Flowers and I are of the same root, the Garden and I are one’, a project by Japanese artists at teamLab.

A computer-controlled system shifts the myriad orchids up and down depending on who is below. Flowers part like curtains, forming a bubble around the viewer.

The orchids on display take in water and nutrients through their roots and are soil-free, meaning the garden is actually growing, even though it’s installed upside-down.

According to the artists, the scent of each flower is intensified when it’s pollinated by its corresponding partner insects, and the fragrance changes throughout the day.

The run has been extended to 10 May, due to demand.

Check out the video to get the full floral effect.

By Pamela  Kelt

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Orchids of glass

Stunning glass orchids that look more real than their natural counterparts are to go on show next month.

Seattle artist Debora Moore creates sculpted glass orchids inspired by her travels and love of nature. “Glass Orchidarium” opens May 16 at the Northwest African American Museum in her home city.

Imagine the nightmare of packing up these fragile beauties up to be delivered to the exhibition!

To see more of Debora's fine glass work, visit her Pinterest board.

I've been a fan of Dale Chihuly for years, but perhaps he has a rival.

 By Pamela Kelt