Orchids on display at the Botanical Gardens

The annual show of mostly tropical flowers is at the Fata Morgana greenhouse

The Prague Botanical Garden's Fata Morgana greenhouse has an exhibition of orchids, which will run just until March 19.

The organizers say that if you can't make to Rio de Janeiro, then going to the modern greenhouse in Prague 7, just north of the Prague Zoo, is the next best thing. “Toss your worries aside … and come to enjoy the harmony of colors and scents of the Fata Morgana greenhouse,” the Prague Botanical Garden's website says. People are invited to get into the mood of the Brazilian Carneval season, even though technically it is now Lent, the season leading up to Easter. The orchids, though, are not concerned with such technicalities.

This is the 11th year that orchids have been on display at the greenhouse in cooperation with the Czech Horticultural Academy (Česká zahradnická akademie) in Mělník. Several Czech stars attended the opening as patrons of the exhibit including Tereza Kostková, Kristýna Leichtová, Jana Plodková and Olga Šípková. All four had appeared on the Czech version of Dancing with the Stars.

In the greenhouse, recorded bird sounds play as visitors walk through the artificial jungle. The greenhouse has some 2,000 orchids, but this is a mere fraction of the different varieties that exist.

Some flowers are quite impressive and colorful, others a bit more subtle. Fragrances also vary in strength from flower to flower. Vanilla, of course, comes from an orchid and examples can be seen in the exhibition as well.

New species are constantly discovered, but they can be quickly endangered by smuggling and black market trade. As a result, strict laws are in place over the transport of orchids.

Some orchids and hybrids are also for sale at the Fata Morgana, but be warned that the flowers can be a bit temperamental and difficult to grow. The curators can provide some tips, though.

There is also a side program on weekends offering tips on topics such as flower arranging, but most of the information is in Czech. The greenhouse's gallery also has an exhibition of macro photographs of South American flowers.

Some 18,014 people went to the show last year, and crowds are expected again this time.

Orchids can be found worldwide, but the Americas have a rich diversity with some 8,500 species out of the 28,000 that occur worldwide. While usually considered tropical they can be found anywhere from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

For more information visit www.botanicka.cz (CZ)

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