After the recent accumulation of snow, the Rinard Orchid Greenhouse offered Muncie community members a warm escape with its Winter Greenhouse tour.
The tour allowed visitors to explore a tropical rainforest and learn about a vast array of orchids and ferns in the middle of January.
“In this greenhouse, there is over 2,000 orchid species and probably over 3,000 species total, including non-orchids,” said Erica Forstater, environmental education program coordinator and orchids greenhouse assistant. “It’s the largest collegiate collection in the United States.”
While going through the tour, community members had the chance to visit three different rooms inside the greenhouse.
The first room offered a representation of the rainforest floor where plants towered high above visitor’s heads as they walked through.
The second was the “hot room” where more of the orchids are housed. Attendees can explore walls of orchids and ferns, while enjoying warm, humid air like that of the equator.
The final room was the “cool house” where visitors got to see plants that typically live in higher elevations, including carnivorous plants.
“The idea is to show [community members] something that maybe they haven't seen before,” said Cheryl LeBlanc, the curator for the greenhouse. “We also do nature interpretation and education.”
Kim Sherwood, a visitor, said she was very impressed with everything those at the greenhouse were able to do.
“It’s very calming,” said Hanes Heintzelman, another guest. “It’s beautiful, flowers, just all the life, especially in the winter. It’s kinda surreal to be in here. It’s just feels very alive.”
For those community members who were not able to make it to the winter greenhouse tour, the Rinard Orchid Greenhouse is open everyday except Sundays.
“People can come in for relaxation, for general visitation and they can come in with their professors or classes. They don’t need a special invitation,” LeBlanc said. “They come just on their own.”
LeBlanc also said that the greenhouse hosts special programs every month.
Those interested in attending future events can find information at bsu.edu/orchids.
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