YOU Be the Judge: Rate the Smithsonian Orchids

GUEST BLOG by Tom Mirenda, Smithsonian Horticulturist

Have you ever wondered about all the various blue, red, yellow, and white ribbons awarded at flower shows, particularly orchid shows? Orchids, are arguably the most diverse of flowering plants and there are loads of subcategories within their ranks. You might ask yourself: ‘What makes one orchid better than another?’

Smithsonian Gardens’ latest orchid exhibit entitled: Orchids: a View from the East, features the interactions between orchids and their cultivators in China for close to 1000 years, bringing us from ancient bonsai like culture to modern day Taiwan where orchids are bred to have brilliant colors, superb form and floriferousness and then mass produced by biotechnology for the lucrative pot plant market.

Deciding what makes a superior orchid is determined by orchid judges, and Smithsonian’s exhibit and accompanying website ( gives their visitors (and YOU) the opportunity to be an orchid judge! Judge’s training takes from 7 to 10 years to complete, but you can express your opinion about some spectacularly beautiful orchids at the exhibit, or on their website. Don’t miss this chance to choose your favorite orchids, and learn about the subtle differences that make an orchid a champion.

About the Guest Blogger:
Tom Mirenda is an orchid expert. He has over 500 in his own home garage in Fairfax, VA. He has worked for the Smithsonian for 10 years and in his spare time sings opera.


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