Bringing Nature Indoors - Cheekwood
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Additional support provided by Mrs. Kate R. W. Grayken and Heloise Werthan Kuhn


Does caring for orchids of your own intimidate you? Have no fear! Phalaenopsis, commonly called moth orchid, are one of the easiest to grow, and will provide months of colorful enjoyment. They prefer low light settings, east windows, and typically only need watering once a week – preferably in the morning. Once the blooms are spent, cut the spike down to leaf level, and it will bloom again within a year. Dendrobiums on the other hand prefer lots of light but not direct sun. Paphiopedilum and Lady Slippers like to be watered a couple of times a week. There are plenty of resources available to guide you through orchid care. For more information, visit the American Orchid Society.


– Around 1,865 plants total
– Over 1,000 Boston Ferns
– 150 pink Phalaenopsis
– 200 white Phalaenopsis
– Nearly 100 Lemon Drop Ferns
– 200 Dendrobium orchids
– 2 20-foot-tall Foxtail Palms

OrchidsBoston Ferns adorn seven green wall panels surrounding the Loggia. These panels are intermittently sprinkled with pink Phalaenopsis and white Phalaenopsis to make the perfect backdrop for an Instagram-worthy selfie. Lemon Drop Ferns fill planters at the base of the orchid and Boston Fern-infused panels. Among the Lemon Drop Ferns are Dendrobium orchids in whites and purples. Foxtail Palms grace the center of the room in a groundcover of red ivy, with Pink phalaenopsis and oncidiums cascading from the weeping spanish moss on their trunks. Rich pink Cattleya orchids are nestled in beds of curly willow and nandina stand stately on display, along with Lady Slippers and miniature phalaenopsis rich in hues of yellows, mauves, and pinks. It took approximately three days to set up this display. This included loading in two 20-foot-tall palms, setting up the panels, and adding the plant material.


Have these cold winter months been keeping you down? We have created our own tropical paradise inside the Cheekwood Mansion to beat the winter blues. This limited time engagement features a stylized interpretation of a classical orangery and occupies the historic loggia with large palms, tropical foliage, and an array of colorful orchids. Orchids are also displayed throughout the historically redecorated mansion, and present a series of period room interventions to explore how the Cheek family likely brought nature indoors and decorated their home.

Lower Stream: Weaver Walk

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta/ Harry Lauder’s Walkingstick

Cornus officinalis

Winter interest has become this plant’s main purpose in a landscape. Its curly, corkscrew shaped branches can only be appreciated once the papery leaves have shed. The sessile-shaped catkins are somewhat showy, also providing something to admire during these cold months. The species is native to southern Italy, though the cultivar, ‘Contorta’, was first found as a sport in an English garden during the mid-1800’s. A few years later, the popular common name “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick” was attributed to the plant in honor of the Scottish vaudevillian actor, Harry Lauder. In addition to the specimen located at the lower stream, there is a younger one growing in the Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden.

If you are growing this variety of Corylus in your garden, be aware that if the removal of suckers is ignored, the plant may eventually revert to the rootstock’s non-contorted form.

Turner Seasons Garden

Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Wilma’/ Monterey Cypress

Cornus officinalis

Brightening the Turner Seasons Garden with its happy chartreuse, our young specimens of C. macrocarpa are originally native to the Monterey peninsula of California. When provided with full sun Monterey Cypress will tell its best color story. Compact and narrow in habit, it can reach a maximum height of 12 feet if growing conditions are favorable, though the average height in a span of 10 years is approximately 5 feet. The fragrance of the foliage is lemony and refreshing. It thrives when grown in warmer climates and can also be a success as a houseplant.

Reflecting Pool
Pontederia cordata / Pickerel Weed

Pickerel weed is native to eastern North America and the Caribbean. It has soft blue blooms, resembling hyacinth, punctuated with yellow spots on each petal. A freshwater-aquatic plant, it will thrive in your rain garden or backyard pond, and, much like horsetail plant (Equisetum), it can spread rapidly. With its dense root system, it does an amazing job of controlling erosion by keeping sediment it place. Grow in containers, either out of water or in, if spread is a concern.

The leaves of Pontederiaare shaped like arrowheads and, when young, can be used in salads. Its seeds are also edible, and tastes best when roasted, though waterfowl will eat them raw. Butterflies are big fans of this perennial; dragonflies and damselflies commonly lay their eggs on plant stems near the water’s surface. Fish, reptiles, and other water creatures seek shelter in the clumps of these plants. It is often seen in the same habitats as the pickerel fish, hence the common name.Robinson Family Water Garden
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ / Panicle Hydrangea

One of the most winter hardy of all hydrangeas, ‘Tardiva’ is very similar to ‘Floribunda’, although the sepals surrounding the base of the blooms are mostly in sets of four and not five. The panicles of showy white flowers become tinged with rose and lavender coloration as they age. The leaves of panicle hydrangeas are handsomely ovate and dark green. There is excellent cut and dried flower potential with this shrub which will grow up to 10 feet tall if conditions are right. Use in a mass hedge or back border for the grandest effect. If larger flowers are desired, prune shrub to 5-10 primary shoots in late winter or early spring. H. paniculatais native to China and Japan.Wills Perennial Garden
Cortaderia selloana‘Pumila’ (Ivory Feathers®) / Pampas Grass

A dwarf form of pampas grass with creamy white flowers, the plumes of ‘Pumila’ reach about 3-4’ above the evergreen foliage. The panicles of flowers first appear in August and they remain not only intact, but very attractive throughout much of the winter. This dwarf form is perfect for small spaces and, of all available cultivars, this is one of the most floriferous. This tough ornamental grass is easy to grow and maintain.

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