Orchids at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Last month, I spoke and signed books at the Annual Montreal Seed Fair held at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. When things got a bit harried at the event, I took the opportunity to relax with walks through the greenhouses.

Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply.

I’ve said it at least a dozen times, but of the greenhouses I’ve visited, those at the Montreal Botanical Gardens remain my favourite to date and always a highlight of any trip to Montreal. Oh how I wish we had greenhouses this inspiring here in Toronto! [Speaking of which... the super amazing Drawn & Quarterly bookstore is hosting an event for the book next month so I'll be headed back there soon. Stay tuned.]

The orchid conservatory was in full form during my trip, and possibly the best I have ever seen it. I took a ton of photos. Here are just a few of the orchids that caught my interest that day.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Sarcoglottis grandiflora

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Jade Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum malipoense)

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Ludisia discolor ‘Alba’

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Phragmipedium ‘Court Jester’

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Paphiopedilum ‘Green Mantle’

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Zygopetalum crinitum. It had a sweet, floral smell that reminded me of violets and hyacinths, but slightly less headache-inducing.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Epidendrum obrienianum. I call these cuties the clown face orchid.

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Paphiopedilum ‘Bel Royal.‘ I think this one looks like a baboon.

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Cymbidium Evening Star ‘Pastel Princess’

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And here’s a close-up. Let’s just say, “No comment” and leave it at that.

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Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
Bulbophyllum lepidum

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And from a distance so you can see context. The flower is so delicate and drapey.

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Epidendrum stamfordianum var. album

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Laelia rubescens

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Paphiopedilum ‘Leeanum’

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Phragmipedium Sedenii Candidulum

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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14 thoughts on “Orchids at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

  1. I remember learning from a botanical evolution class (drawing a lot of flower diagrams and memorizing -idaes and -aceas) that the Liliopsida (which includes the orchids) were considered more primitive and Magnoliopsida were considered advanced/more highly evolved… except for those darn orchids.
    They are far too complex and very clearly evolved hand-in-hand with the insects that fertilize so many of them that some botanists, just because of that one family, thought maybe they had it all backwards.
    This may be completely worked out by now, what with the advances in genetic analyses to help map such things, and it was over 10 years ago (science can change fast in 10 years, especially cladistics as the genes are sorted out).

    Regardless, I found it romantic that this outlandishly gorgeous and funky group had the botanists scratching their nerdy heads.

  2. gayla, i visited a great orchid conservatory at daniel stowe botanical garden in north carolina recently and photographed orchids there. with the fans moving the plants around and people milling about and labels obscured or missing, well, it turned into a shoot-it-fast, hope-i-got-the-shot fiasco. it was still a wonderful tropical escape being there that day. your post really brings the same feeling to us. amazing array of orchids! i especially like your scent description. nice!

  3. Sunita: I leave others to grow orchids like these and prefer to visit and enjoy them rather than grow them myself. Maybe one day if I ever get the space or a greenhouse. One can dream!

  4. I had one orchid plant given to me by a friend last summer. It was blooming at the time. Eventually all the blossoms dropped off. I cut the flowering stem off just above where the first blossom had been, and over winter it threw another new stem and now has 5 new blossoms; white with the faintest shading of pink and green. Just beautiful,and they last for WEEKS. (I am NOT an accomplished gardener!)

  5. Fantastic photos! You’ve really captured their delicate, luminous beauty. I used to love visiting those greenhouses when I stayed in the city. :)

  6. Wonderful photos of the Orchids. They are such sensuous flowers. I just got a Cymbidium for my birthday and am hoping to keep it going to bloom again.

  7. I love the botanical gardens in Montreal. I went last Summer and was blown away. I am going next week-end to Montreal and I hope to say hello again.

  8. Wonderful. I have grown orchids with success for the past 6years. It is the first time i see the – Paphiopedilum ‘Leeanum’ -Paphiopedilum ‘ Green Mant’ and the Bulbophylum lepidum. They are surely interesting. Guess I have to go see the gardens soon.

  9. Luscious photos, there is something so extravagant about orchids.
    From a bit of a distance they are lovely and fragile, but some of them, on closer inspection look like scary monsters…like they want to bite your face off.

  10. Thanks for the gorgeous photos. I love the various flower perspectives, and the great mix of species and hybrids. I like the pictures of Zygo crinitum and Bulbophyllum lepidum best.

    Gayla, you’re quite correct that growing orchids in your neck of the woods is a hassle, unless you have a space with good supplemental light & heat (read: energy bills) for half the year. If you can manage room for one plant, though, a blooming Moth Orchid or Epidendrum in the middle of winter can be remarkably sustaining.

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