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Friday, December 21, 2007

lord_whimsy (lord_whimsy) wrote,@ 2007-12-08 11:58:00

Entry tags:
organicism, the greenhouse project
The greenhouses at Waldor Orchids in Linwood, NJ (near my old hometown) are a very good example of what happens over decades to an enclosed environment when it has been casually managed (in the best possible sense), and allowed to naturalize to a certain degree. These greenhouses have been here for over six decades; their scale is modest, and they still have the old wooden doors, ribbed glass panels, a patina of algae and moss over everything--all the wonderful trappings of a classic greenhouse. The older conservatories are quite grand, but the scale of a greenhouse is more intimate, nestled.Older greenhouses are becoming increasingly rare, and are to be savored when one finds them; to my mind they're absolute treasures. The interiors of these older greenhouses don't give off that dull, milky white light like the newer plastic ones do; no--the older greenhouses give off a silvery shimmer, which gives the living things within a dreamlike aura. Greenhouses bring deep-sea shrimp to mind upon first impression, in that they have a clear carapace that displays living innards. The light, rectilinear grid of a greenhouse canopy is a lovely counterpoint to the lush, voluptuous verdure within; I absolutely love the outside appearance of greenhouses, with the condensation on the glass slightly obscuring its delicate denizens with a tantalizing green haze. The effect is even more dramatic on cold evenings, when the lights are still on inside.Now, this isn't some clinical plant factory--someone loves this little world, one might even say the Off family have lived in it for four generations (one often encounters their small children playing in the plants, the lucky little devils). It has naturalized from stone floor to glass ceiling: waterfalls and ponds of fish, stands of wild ferns and mosses growing in neglected corners, and various thriving species which have found themselves here by accident, have staked claims in any available nook and are now permanent naturalized residents. The greenhouses are so choked with vegetation in areas, that even a small person like me had a hard time getting through. At one point, an older gentleman and I startled one another in this jungle. "Livingston, I presume?" It's an absolutely enchanting place, an accidental ecosystem.After two hours of loitering and swooning, I claimed my quarry of three paphiopedilum and a large nepenthes (the Offs recently purchased a collection of incredible vanda from a gentleman who recently died, and I've inherited his nepenthes). Before leaving, I had a friendly chat with a couple members of the Off family. During the conversation, they mentioned that some tropical tree frogs had apparently hitched a ride on a couple of the orchids. Over the years, their numbers in the greenhouses have grown to the point that at night, the noise is so loud that at one point the Offs were afraid the neighbors would complain. To the best of their knowledge, none have (and I can't imagine what sort of thick churl would complain about having a glass house full of plants and frogs as a neighbor). I hope to visit the greenhouse at night on a warm evening, and hear the music of this little oasis for myself. Such are the rewards of floral flaneurie.~W

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