It’s Monday, around 9 o’clock, and the library is locked for the night. Silently, Linda Zellmer appears on the other side of the glass door. She opens it and guides us up four dark floors towards a puddle of light.
“There it is,” she says, gazing down at the swollen bud of an orchid cactus. “It’s slowly opening.”
Zellmer perches on a stool behind her camera and waits in anticipation of the night’s big event: the moment when the bud opens.
While most plants flower for weeks, orchid cacti only blossom for a few short hours a year, and always at night. Botanists name it Epiphyllum oxypetalum, but the plant’s elaborate, nocturnal mating dance has earned it the nickname of “Queen of the Night” or “Lady of the Night.”