By Connor Fitzpatrick
According to the website Flowerweb, certain species of orchid can survive up to 100 years. It also claims orchids have the largest variety of flowers with the number of officially documented species standing at 25,000 plus.
A good source for more information about the exotic flower is the San Francisco Orchid Society, which held its 68th annual Pacific Orchid Exposition, Feb. 20-23, at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. This year’s theme was “2020: Orchids in Focus.”
The exposition was divided into two rooms, a showroom for attendees to marvel at this year’s award winning flowers and a hall for vendors to sell plants and growing tools. Thousands of rare and exotic orchids were on display.
This year’s best in show went to a Dendrobium papilio “Vistamont,” a large, white orchid from the Philippines with purple lines on its labellum. The plant was grown by Tom Perlite of Golden Gate Orchids.
Orchid enthusiasts and collectors came from far and wide to celebrate the flower’s beauty and uniqueness. A. Wainscott, a connoisseur who has been growing orchids for 30 years said, “It’s the only place in the world that can have so many incredible vendors. There are so many beautiful, rare orchids that I can add to my collections.”
Wainscott, who was introduced to growing orchids by a geologist, said that growing orchids is meditative and cathartic.
“I think the thing that orchids do is that they teach you about life. You can go through the different plants and nurture them and take care of them properly and they will give you the gift of a magnificent flower,” Wainscott said.
John Alexander of Andy’s Orchids from Encinitas, California has been growing orchids for 40 years.
“I was 10 and my dad bought me a cymbidium at the garden center because I was fascinated by it … their variation and what they evoke and where they come from,” he said. “Everything about them I think is interesting.”
“One of the things that people don’t realize is how variable they are in habitat, in structure, in size,” Alexander said. “People are always surprised that that’s an orchid. They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors. They come from all different places. Every continent, except for Antarctica, is represented.”
Those who were unable to attend this year’s exposition, the San Francisco Orchid Society will be holding another event – “Orchids in the Park” – which will take place at the Hall of Flowers on July 25 and 26. For more information, visit http://www.sforchidsinthepark.org.
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