Jeff Leatham runs with a rarefied crowd of one-named wonders. Cher, Oprah, Dolly. He lives in the star-studded Benedict Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. He’s designed floral arrangements for these divas and serves as the artistic director of the elite Four Seasons George V hotel in Paris.

So what’s a guy with bragging rights like this doing in The Bronx?

Designing the New York Botanical Garden’s annual Orchid Show, that’s what. The show, called “Kaleidoscope,” opens Saturday.

During a rainy day earlier this week, the black-clad and bronzed Leatham talked about his work to sun-starved New Yorkers amid the pink-and-purple profusion of blossoms at the entrance to his show.

Vertical rows of vanda orchids hang from a horticultural jungle gym that has at its center a striking orchid-shaped fountain made of Plexi-mirrored triangles. Petals twirl in the pool below the cascading water. It may not be the South Pacific, where orchids grow naturally, but it will certainly make you forget that you crossed the tattered Triborough Bridge to get here.

Leatham’s show spotlights a healthy variety of the flowers that do not naturally grow in this climate. There are shoe-shaped lady slipper orchids, yellow dancing lily orchids, fluffy corsage orchids as well as some species that are only 1 or 2 inches in diameter, such as the maroon bobcat orchid.

Visitors to the show should know that the entrance has been moved from the gorgeous glass dome of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to the next door on the right. (The dome is undergoing renovations.) In the process, the garden has sacrificed one wing of display opportunities but makes up for it with Leatham’s nifty additions. One is a so-called skywalk that allows visitors to ascend and descend staircases that offer canopy views of a simulated rainforest. Another is a tunnel that connects the conservatory’s desert and rainforest gardens. The primarily utilitarian tunnel, made of sheet metal, has been transformed with a series of multicolored lights.

“Color is the most important aspect of my design and my work,” Leatham says. “When I start to design I think not about the variety of the flower but the color I want to use. And then the texture, and the flower is the last. As you go through the tunnel you go from desert to rainforest, you’re going through this kaleidoscope. We call it our little rainbow of happiness room.”

Over in the rainforest section of the exhibit, the curator of the garden’s orchid collection, Marc Hachadourian, points out lady slipper orchids hiding under a canopy of ferns. “A lot of the way we designed and planted the exhibit is to make sure there is the element of discovery,” he says. He also takes a moment to point out endangered orchids such as the blue vanda coerulea. These flowers are endangered because they grow in low densities in limited geographic ranges but they enjoy the full protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement protecting animals and plants from exploitation in international trade.

Meanwhile, Leatham is presiding over the exhibit’s centerpiece — a courtyard dominated by a rectangular reflecting pool decorated with a series of flowering arches. These are phalaenopsis orchids in shades of yellow, orange and red brought in especially for the show. “They’ve taken them out of their pots and they’ve wrapped them in moss,” he says. “And then they create their own little basket made out of moss. And then they’ve attached them with chicken wire on these arches. It’s a cool room. There’s not another space in the garden where you can sit and enjoy the plants.
“Kaleidoscope” was in the works for four months but the actual installation was much faster — a week and a half, two weeks.

Leatham just doesn’t talk the talk about orchids. In his California home, he has 24 orchid plants. “They’re all white phalaenopsis. I’m all about a white flower in the house kind of guy,” he says. “I’m kind of rough with my flowers because they grow in nature. Some people would never touch a flower, but I’m always touching them, moving them around.”

“What I have found to be true about orchids is that you leave them alone,” says Orchid Show designer Jeff Leatham. “So many people baby their orchids. It’s all about the humidity and the amount of light and the heat of the light. It’s all about the water.” He suggests the best way to water them is to “drop in three or four ice cubes in the plant itself. Have the ice cubes melt down onto the roots instead of watering them.”

“Jeff Leathams’ Kaleidoscope,” Feb. 15 through April 19, tickets: $23 adults, $10 kids 2-12 on weekdays; $30 and $15 on weekends. New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., The Bronx; NYBG.org