Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Orchids: A Review

Last week or so Pantone announced that the color of 2014 will be 'Radiant Orchid.' This was nice and coincidental, as I had just been asked to review a book on orchids, simply called "Orchids."

With photographs by Fabio Petroni, and text by Anna Maria Botticelli, this is certainly one beautiful book. The flowers are all photographed against a stark white background, and the effect is such that you think you are looking at exquisitely detailed paintings.

Some of the pages simply have beautiful photographs, others have accompanying text.

The book is divided into four sections: 'Enchantment,' 'Passion,' 'Grace and Elegance,' and 'Extravagance.' Different species of orchids that exemplify those terms are showcased within those sections, with a bit of prose that goes into more detail about each.

Honestly, that's pretty much all I can say. The photos are absolutely magnificent, but the words are for orchid enthusiasts. It read very dry and scientific to me (lots of 'wingardium leviosa' types of words that I skimmed). If a person is a gardening or botany or orchid fan, they would find this volume both beautiful and informative, whereas I found it beautiful and not very interesting, in a "lay person" sort of way... When the book was described to me, I was under the impression that the text would be poetry and prose and quotes that seemed to fit the theme, as opposed to my high school biology textbook (which it seemed more like).

I looked up a few other facts on these flowers, such as there are over 25,000 species of orchids. To put that in perspective, that is over double the number of bird species, and four times the number of mammal species. Which is why you can get an orchid that looks like this--

--as well as like this--

--and like this (I think this one looks like a slipper).

Not what you picture when you think of orchids, right? Well, neither is the vanilla bean, I bet. Yep, vanilla is a member of the orchid family. File that away for when you need some small talk that will lead nowhere, hahaha.

My favorite tidbit to learn was that, for the most part, if you bisect an orchid it will be pretty much symmetrical. Just like a face--draw a line down the center and it will be the same on each side. A line I read that I can't find my source for now said "When you look at an orchid, it looks right back at you." I love that.

Some orchid varieties will bloom for a few hours, and others can bloom for a few months. But the thing that gets me is that orchids can take years to bloom after germination. Years. Like seven or eight of them. Seeing as it drives me insane when it takes me a long time to finish a quilt I don't think that orchids would be a flower I'd be successful with. I'd probably forget I planted it, hahaha.

Anyway, to sum up, this is a beautiful book in every way. BUT, if you're not an orchid lover the text may leave you feeling a bit yawny. If you know someone into these flowers, or into gardening, this would actually make a really nice gift.

I am now going to go and try and get the picture of the orchid that looks like a giant spider out of my head...

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.


  1. I actually did know that vanilla is a type of orchid... but then my husband says that I am a catch-all for strange and useless bits of information. =D
    I did NOT know that there are so many types of orchids! Most of the ones I've seen look more like the first three and last two photos. They are all beautiful though!



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