For some people, guarding orchid-growing secrets is tantamount to the Department of Defense protecting information about nuclear warheads. They steal, they lie, they hire spies. You wouldn't believe it. In case you haven't read the book The Orchid Thief or seen the film Adaptation, you should know that orchids are serious business. Especially in South Florida, home to various orchid-growing farms doing hefty business on the edge of the Everglades, as well as the ever-elusive ghost orchid, made famous by writer Susan Orlean. The orchid-growing world is full of as many sketchy characters as there are hybrids of the precious blooms. And we're talking tens of thousands of varieties.
Still the mystique of orchids is captivating. Once ensnared, aficionados are driven to obsession as they try to catch a glimpse of rare blooms in the wild or go loopy attempting to hybridize new species.
If you're curious about the hubbub, check out the 59th Annual Miami International Orchid Show, among the largest and most prestigious such shows in the world. Along with the more than 500,000 mysterious blooms from jungles and even deserts around the globe, you'll see the wacky people who will do anything just to view a rare bloom. And we mean anything. These people muck through jungles, climb treacherous mountains, and risk getting kidnapped by guerrillas in banana republics. Or else they just hang around their Florida rooms waiting for their babies to bloom. Either way they are at the mercy of the orchid, a peculiar if not sadistic critter. Like bathing beauties at times they refuse to show their colors, which drives admirers batty. When they finally burst in fabulous arrays of purples, blues, yellows, and just about any hue you could imagine, the growers get absolutely insane.
The show opens at 10:00 a.m. and runs through Sunday, March 7, at the Coconut Grove Convention Center, 2700 Bayshore Dr. Tickets cost $10, $5 for the special preview party Thursday, March 4. Call 305-255-3656 or visit www.southfloridaorchidsociety.org. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Sounds Like Art
What becomes an urban experience most? "Screeeeech, griiiiick, yuooooom, creeiiook!" Noise. In noise lives the symphony of movement, the echo of existence that lets us know what it means to be alive. Locally there may be no busier urban noise (okay, sound) artist than Rene Barge, the bespectacled screamer who can clear a room of the unadventurous in a New York minute. But we suggest sticking around. Barge's creations ebb and flow, sometimes with a subtlety that demands close attention. Other times they build and burst in earsplitting, orgasmic crescendos. This time the sound and visual installation will grow over 3 evenings, snowballing through 3-hour performances uniformly titled "Drops." What will you hear, feel, experience? Sound conductor Barge -- who has mounted visual art shows as well as sound and music performances around Miami -- gives no clues. But if you knew what to expect, why would you bother going? "Drop" in on Barge from 7:00 to 10:00 tonight and continuing through Saturday, March 6, at the Dorsch Gallery, 151 NW 24th St. Admission is free. Call 305-576-1278. -- By Anne Tschida
Attack of the celebrity chefs
Aside from teaching you to cook, those innumerable hours spent watching the Food Network should have convinced you by now that Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain, and Emeril Lagasse are not your best friends. Maybe that's why those incessant invitations to come over your house and sample all those yummy dishes they taught you to make over the years go unanswered? Perk up. If you attend one of the many events during this weekend's South Beach Wine & Food Festival, you may have a chance to get close to your idols. What with a golf tournament, a brunch, wine seminars, tastings, dinners, interactive classes, and hundreds of celebrity chefs running around town, you're bound to run into one of them somewhere. But don't get too close: You wouldn't want them to get a restraining order, would you? Events, venues, and prices vary from $75 to $975. Call 305-348-9463 or see www.sobewineandfoodfest.com for details. -- By Nina Korman
Being in the right place at the right time around this time of year in Miami is to be at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens under a full moon. At James Deering's 1916 villa, the perpetual midsummer night's dream plays out with the sprites and pixies among tons of glowing statuary and verdant shrubbery. Italianate villas are good for that, and the 10-acre Renaissance-style garden at Vizcaya has a definite synergy with full moons and mystical elements. With that knowledge, the folks at one of this city's most popular attractions offer the occasional moonlit garden tour. Start with the large center fountain made of marble in the Italian baroque style of the 17th century. Get lost in the Maze Garden's jasmine hedges. Frolic among the gazebos and pools of water that cascade from one terrace to the next. Or enter the Secret Garden at your own risk, of course. The tour starts at 7:30 p.m. at Vizcaya, 3251 S. Miami Ave. Admission is $5. Call 305-250-9133. -- By John Anderson