Stop and Smell the Flowers
Amidst the uproar and confusion of settling in and looking for a new place to live, it would help tremendously if you stopped long enough to enjoy some of the wonderful aspects of life in your new country. Flowers, particularly orchids, are one of the most beautiful aspects of life in the Dominican Republic. There are hundreds of varieties, with colors ranging from purest white to every shade of violet, red, yellow, green and even blue. Tiny, insect-like flowers adorn some plants, while others sport huge ruffled blossoms.
In the U.S., a flowering orchid plant could set you back US$100. In Santo Domingo you can acquire one for around RD$150 (approximately $8.00 US). If you are confident in your gardening and nurturing abilities, a non-flowering plant can cost you as little as RD$50. Mature flowering plants or a rare species may cost between RD$250 and RD$500. You can pay as much as you like for an orchid, if you decide to become a connoisseur.
These prices appear more reasonable when you consider that the blossoms on a plant in bloom may last for months, whereas cut flowers have a duration of only days.
The Jardin Botánico in Arroyo Hondo has an orchid garden which traditionally has not been open to the public. However, once a year, they have an orchid competition and sale, at which many beautiful plants are available for reasonable prices.
Orquideario Arroyo Hondo has extensive greenhouses. It is slightly difficult to find, on Calle J.A. Polanco Billini in Arroyo Hondo. Drive northwest on Camino Chiquito from the extension of Av. Lope de Vega. You will see a pharmacy on the right and a landscaping store called Walpa on the left where a few orchids are also available. Turn left and watch the houses to the right-hand side of the road. The sign is not very obvious. Tel. 565-1930 or 567-1351.
Orquideas Santo Domingo is located on Calle Gustavo Mejía Ricart, almost on the corner of Av. Núñez de Cáceres.This greenhouse closes over the lunch hour. Tel. 541-7868.
La Anthuriana, at Jacinto Mañón 25, Tel. 566-0880, also has a large variety of orchids.
Bargain hunters may prefer the orchid places on the outskirts of the city, off the Duarte highway, such as behind Manantiales Cristal.
For more information on orchids, contact the Sociedad Dominicana de Orquideología, the Dominican Orchideology Society. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the study and cultivation of orchids, research on and conservation of native species, as well as providing a forum for the exchange of information. Their meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month in the Museum of Natural History (689-0106) in the Plaza de la Cultura, on César Nicolás Penson.