Sexy Slippers

Slipper Orchid, {Paphiopedilum}, at the NY Botanical Garden Gift Shop.
Sexy Slipper Orchid, {Paphiopedilum}, at the NY Botanical Garden Gift Shop.

Let’s be honest.
Orchids are unabashedly sexy.
Glistening, hairy, succulent, juicy, spotty, warty…it is all there.

Slipper Orchids are my favorite.
Paphiopedilum.
Paphos, is a city on the Aegean Island of Cyprus and the mythical birthplace of, who else? Aphrodite.
The Goddess of Love herself. A temple was built there in her honor for all manner of celebrations.
Pedilon is Greek for sandal.
“The Orchid Show” book explains it thusly:
“The legend is that Aphrodite lost her golden slipper. When a mortal found it and tried to touch it, the slipper was transformed into an exquisite golden orchid.”
{So much better than Cinderella.}

The slipper, of course, is not what I see at first.
My attraction is entirely subliminal.
One woman standing next to me kept reaching up to caress the proboscis like petal — the labellum.
You’re not supposed to touch.
I laughed and she said, “I just can’t stop.”

When I got home and looked at my photos on the computer screen — all big and enlarged — I gasped, Is that what I saw?
A veiny, hairy, deep burgundy pouch, umm, slipper…right there on the shelf of the NY Botanical Garden Gift Shop.
And it was brimming with water.
I know because, I had touched the slipper pouch. I could not resist.

I was tempted to bring one home with me.
I was further tempted when I learned that they are perfectly suited in the hands of an orchid newbie and that the flowers can last two to three months…
Ahh, but the price tag gave me pause.
85 bucks.
Pause.
We’re in the midst of economic turmoil for crying out loud…
Subway & bus fares are going up to $2.50.
Just walk away… just walk away.

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Paphiopedilum {paf-ee-oh-PED-i-lum} at the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show through April 12th. Of course, the show features plenty of other orchid varieties, but not as sexy as the Paphs.

nybg_orchid_show_slipper_orchids

NYBG Slipper Orchid in the gift shop.
Marianne's Phrygian Cap?

Slipper Orchids at the NY Botanical Garden Orchid Show.

Slipper Orchids at the NY Botanical Garden Orchid Show.

The slipper likeness is very apparent in the orchid on the left.
The slipper likeness is very apparent in the orchid on the left.

Slipper Orchid at the NY Botanical Garden Orchid Show.


NYBG Slipper Orchid in the gift shop.

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City of Plants…Holiday Train Show

Edgar Allen Poe Cottage
Edgar Allan Poe Cottage at the Holiday Train Show, NY Botanical Garden

I have been ill informed about the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. I thought you actually rode a train or a train was done up in lights. In a word, it never really seemed appealing to me. But this year, with family visiting for the holiday weekend, we decided to have a look. And I was pleasantly surprised. Yes there are trains — model trains and street cars whizzing along tracks nestled among the tropical plants in the garden’s conservatory. So you’re warm and indoors! But for me, the surprise appeal were the replicas of New York City landmarks, houses and brownstones. More than 140 from all five boroughs. Each one its own botanical wonder, constructed entirely of the natural materials often destined for the compost heap: seed pods, twigs, palm sized gourds, cloves, mushrooms and some roof tops of overlapping oak leaves. Criss-crossing over our heads were New York City bridges of various tree branches with little Italian lights winding all around them. I can only imagine how spectacular the show looks at night. I had such low expectations of the show I didn’t bring my camera, but I snapped a few photos of the Bronx landmarks with my cell phone.

Snuff Mill replica at the Holiday Train Show
Snuff Mill replica at the Holiday Train Show
The Original Yankee Stadium, 1923
The original Yankee Stadium, 1923
Fireman's Building on Sedgwick Avenue
Firehouse Engine Company 49/Ladder Company 59 on Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx
Holiday Train Show at NY Botanical Garden
Holiday Train Show at NY Botanical Garden

The Holiday Train Show ends on Sunday, January 11th. An exclusive evening viewing is open to members only on Friday, January 9th. No strollers are allowed inside the exhibit. This was a deterrent for my sister in bringing my 17 month old nephew. Much of the exhibit is eye level to a child and within easy, albeit, forbidden reach. She may forgo the Train Show for the Thomas the Tank Engine.

Chasing the Bronx Waterfalls

With the city all abuzz about The New York Waterfalls, I set out to find the waterfalls right here in the Bronx. I knew of three sites already. Then a call to the Bronx River Alliance led me to two more. And the staff further hunted down the height of the fall drops for me as well. I am thankful for their resourcefulness, my waterfall chase was all the more fortified.

Snuff Mill Waterfall at NY Botanical Garden
Snuff Mill Waterfall at NY Botanical Garden

The Snuff Mill Waterfall (7 ft Ht) at the NY Botanical Garden Located on the Bronx River, this waterfall is technically a dam, constructed to power the neighboring Snuff Mill built in 1840. The water wheel is no longer there, but the brick factory building is. The Snuff Mill was on the estate owned by the tobacco producing Lorillard family in the mid-late 1800’s.

Rock Garden Cascade at the New York Botanical Garden
Rock Garden Cascade at the New York Botanical Garden

Rock Garden Cascade at the NY Botanical Garden One of the gardeners told me that the rocks for the waterfall were placed by hand in the 1930’s. The Rock Garden is off the beaten path of the garden and on some days a tranquil oasis. When visiting the garden, make sure to request the All Garden Pass in order to gain entry to the Rock Garden.

River Park Waterfall
River Park Waterfall

River Park Waterfall (13 ft Ht) at 180th Street & Boston Road near the Bronx Zoo entrance.This too is technically a dam situated on the Bronx River. The park, with a large playground for kids, is a very popular neighborhood spot for summer barbecues and parties. The day I visited, a couple of daredevils were walking along the rim of the fall. And yes, they did jump in, despite the no swimming policy.

Twin Dams Right Falls
Twin Dams Right Falls

Twin Dams (about 10ft Ht) at the Bronx Zoo near the Bronx Park East entrance. This site was a total surprise find, thanks to the folks at the Bronx River Alliance! Unfortunately, my camera does not have a lens wide enough to capture both dams. When facing them, the dam on the right has a more classic waterfall drop and is best viewed from the Mitsubishi Riverwalk Outlook.

Twin Dams Left Spillway
Twin Dams Left Spillway

The left spillway is best viewed from inside the Zoo, near the Bison Reserve. The Mitsubishi Riverwalk, marked by a totem pole, is free and located outside the zoo near the Bronx River East entrance.

I saw all five falls on the same day and I was on foot. I did hop on the bus for some of the way. It can be a good stretch of walking for some, but is certainly doable. I walked away from the Bronx waterfalls more aware of how much life and activity once existed along the Bronx River. The water mills powered by these Bronx River falls were major manufacturing hubs and many early settlements branched out of these mill sites. Apparently as many as twelve mills from the mid 1700s, producing flour, pottery, snuff and narrow woven tapes dotted the river’s edge. It is hard to imagine the water wheels in action given the modern day surroundings, but certainly not difficult to enjoy where they once were.

Update: Waterfall is used here with a romantic regard. All Bronx River waterfalls noted here are actually dams.

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