A Return to Nature: The New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Dinner 2013: exotic inspirations

When FlowerSchool New York asked me if I would help collaborate on their table design for the New York Botanical Garden’s annual Orchid Dinner I had moment to pause. I had never been a part of this type of show where success seems to be gauged by ‘how BIG can you go.’ And orchid isn’t the first species that comes to mind when I think of flowers. We brainstormed, ideas percolated for weeks, and almost organically a concept took shape. We decided to veer from the bigger is better approach, and instead focused on creating a little jewel box. Our attention was directed onto the star of the evening, the Orchid in her vast and unique glamour. We decided to include a collection of specimens worthy of an orchid collector, and stayed away from the typical Cymbidium, Phalaenopsis, or Dendrobium orchid variety. Our gold-leafed box ‘island’ included jeweled insects and arachnids at play on four different types of Oncidium orchids, a Cattleya, two Paphiopedilum, a Zygopedilum, Vanda Fineta, Miltonia, and little mini Oncidiums. Mary Ruefle’s ‘Voyager’ poem surfaced and “an orchid washed in on the salt white beach” gave way to an island theme replete with white sand, glistening gold pebbles and iridescent white shells. A jewel box indeed. I see orchids now in a whole new golden light. And hopefully we delighted a guest or two who took the time to experience our jewel box orchid island. Bigger isn’t always better.

Stellar FlowerSchool alumna, Kady Dalrymple, of KadyBloom, was asked to create orchid fascinators for the female guests to wear. Her fascinators were spectacular and helped bring the table to life, quite literally. Not a fascinator was left at the end of the evening. Merriment seemed to be had by all. Kady, Merci Beaucoup!

IMG_1141IMG_1143IMG_1144IMG_1148IMG_1149IMG_1150IMG_1151IMG_1153IMG_1154IMG_1156IMG_1160IMG_1162IMG_1163IMG_1164IMG_1165IMG_1166IMG_1182IMG_1184IMG_1191IMG_1192IMG_1196IMG_1219IMG_1227IMG_1228IMG_1229IMG_1233IMG_1269IMG_1239IMG_1268IMG_1278IMG_1314IMG_1320Photography Beth Horta for Sweet Sabelle.


  1. Beth,

    Congratulations! Beautiful beautiful job … I LOVE the addition of the jewels and I’m sure Kady’s fascinators made the whole evening even more special.

    All the best,


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