We love orchids in our state and growers and fans have come up with great ways to honor those flowers in the month of February. The Madison Chapter of the Orchid Growers Guild puts on an event at Olbrich Gardens they call Orchid Quest, and the Olbrich Garden staff and volunteers respond with their own salute. They title their exhibit, Orchid Escape, and house it in their beautiful Boltz Conservatory. Several friends and I took advantage of the two-day Orchid Quest to gawk and make some purchases and then wander through the Orchid Escape exhibit. You can visit it through the month of February.
The Olbrich folks have a real treasure in the Boltz Conservatory. It’s a glass pyramid and measures 100 feet by 100 feet and the dome rises to 50 feet at its center. I live less than a mile from it and often visit. I’m a paid member of Olbrich Botanical Society, so I can stop over most any time I want to walk the gardens in season and visit the conservatory for free any day of the year. There’s a small conservatory charge for nonmembers. As you can see in some photos, it has two levels along with a waterfall and ponds, and hundreds upon hundreds of plants.
The Olbrich staff chose a whimsical approach to its Orchid Escape exhibit. Among other things, you see a huge balloon, a popcorn stand and a tightrope walker…all sporting orchids. You can walk around in shirt sleeves if you want because it will be at least 70 degrees and the humidity at over 60 percent.
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I often told UW students in my classes that the Boltz Conservatory is a great place to take a first date in winter. It doesn’t cost much, you have something to see and talk about at every turn and there are some inexpensive restaurants nearby. Many students have later told me they took my advice and had a great time! Come to think about it, it’s a pretty nice place to visit no matter the relationship of the people you’re with!
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