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The 45th Anniversary Orchid Show: Women Breaking the Glasshouse Ceiling

See the spectacular display of living orchids through November 29.

Presented by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens October 22, 2020

The Selby Gardens 2020 Orchid Show: A 45th anniversary tribute

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the official opening of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. To help celebrate that milestone, Selby Gardens’ annual orchid show honors the Gardens’ founder, Marie Selby, and spotlights the accomplishments of many notable women who have built on her legacy and helped make Selby Gardens home to the best scientifically documented collection of orchids in the world.

As the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of air plants (epiphytes), Selby Gardens hosts an orchid show each fall at its Downtown Sarasota campus. Taking place currently through November 29, The 45th Anniversary Orchid Show: Women Breaking the Glasshouse Ceiling presented by Better-Gro®, combines a spectacular display of living orchids in the Tropical Conservatory with an impressive exhibition of orchid-related treasures from Selby Gardens’ collections in the Museum of Botany & the Arts.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the women who have made our organization possible,” says Jennifer Rominiecki, president & CEO at Selby Gardens. “Not only does it give us the opportunity to highlight our founder Marie Selby and icon Bertha Palmer, but it gives us a fitting platform to share the stories of the women scientists who have made invaluable contributions to Selby Gardens and to the scientific study and conservation of plants worldwide.”

The 45th Anniversary Orchid Show also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. The Tropical Conservatory celebrates the Suffrage Movement and showcases orchids in the symbolic colors of the Suffragettes—purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity, green for hope, and gold for light and life. The experience is enlivened by kinetic planters that set the orchids in jubilant motion. Architectural motifs from the 1920s and period music provide additional depth to the exhibit and transport our visitors to this pivotal era in American history.

In the north gallery of the Museum of Botany & the Arts, rare books and prints showcasing the work of some of the finest female botanical artists to have ever captured the beauty of orchids are on view. The museum’s south gallery highlights the numerous contributions of women to botanical science, including the work of many female staff and volunteers at Selby Gardens who have contributed to the understanding and appreciation of orchids and other epiphytic plants.

The show also includes a stunning display of orchids and roses at the Selby House to mark the 100th anniversary of the Selbys’ purchase of the property on which the Gardens now stand. The rose was one of Marie Selby’s favorite flowers and also a symbol of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

An additional orchid display is on view at Selby Gardens’ companion campus Historic Spanish Point. The display connects to Bertha Palmer, the Chicago philanthropist and entrepreneur who established a winter estate at Spanish Point in 1910. Through her work as chairman of the Board of Lady Managers at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Bertha Palmer made significant contributions to the cause of women’s rights.


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