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Orchids Bloom in Washington Exhibit

Zulima Palacio

Hundreds of orchids from around the world are now on display at the U.S. Botanic Garden in the nation's capital. This year's orchid exhibit is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of cherry trees to Washington DC.

Hundreds of orchids rare and common are on display in the U.S. capital with a nod to Japan.  They set the stage for the upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival, this year a centennial celebration of Japan's gift.

"We blended two things: the orchids together with the annual celebration of the gift of the Cherry blossoms from Japan to the American government, with all the cherry trees that made this city so famous," said Shimizu.

Holly Shimizu is director of the Botanic Garden. She says this year's Japanese Garden setting is an effort to combine Japanese aesthetics with the orchid's beauty.

"Orchids are the most complicated plant family that we have and the most extensive family," said Shimizu.

The show displays orchid species that originated all over the world.  Now, they are grown a few kilometers away in greenhouses. There the temperatures are adjusted so the orchids bloom in time for the show.

"Orchids are probably the most beloved flower on earth," said Shimizu.  "Around the world people will pay huge sums of money to gather rare and unusual orchids."

Nick Nelson, a landscape architect for the Botanic Garden, worked on the exhibit's design for a year and a half.

"In our structure here, we are not allowed to put any holes in the wall or holes in the ground for footers or things like that, so getting things to stand up in the conservatory is always an issue," said Nelson.

Despite the challenge, Nelson was able to create a traditional Japanese garden. Its simplicity complements the orchids.

Orchid Mystique: Nature's Triumph runs through April. So those who come to Washington for the Cherry Blossom Festival can also admire the orchids.

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