Writer’s encounters: 50 Shades of Orchids
By Emma Palova
Venice, FL- During my annual writer’s retreats in Florida, I always come across a gem; it may be an artist, a breeze, scuba divers or sand castle builders, students of architecture on their spring break. This is my seventh year on the Gulf Coast exploring treasures washed on sea, and not just seashells.
This year, it was the “50 Shades of Orchids” show organized by the Venice Area Orchid Society, (VAOS) an affiliate of the American Orchid Society.
The VAOS is celebrating 50 years of existence. The show is put on at the height of the tourist season and it attracts 3,500 visitors annually and premier growers.
Perhaps, the most striking upon entering the exhibit hall at the Venice Community Center was the unexpected fragrance filtering in from all corners. I am a lifelong lover and collector of these enigmatic flowers. To see the orchids displayed in all colors, shades, hybrids and varieties was stunning.
The orchid stems and spikes were bending under the weight of the magnificent blooms.
Some of the blooms looked more like the faces of animals, birds or butterflies. Others resembled spiders. The large tricolor blooms resembled the Iris or more common flowers home to northern climate zones.
Each display consisted of 50 different orchids, hybrids and species wrapped in palm greens.
The participating growers offered most orchids for sale including the ones adaptable to various climates like the cattleya, Phalaenopsis, oncidium and vanda hybrids.
My favorite is the ornate Phal that comes in many different shades. I have a nice collection of these that has grown over the years on my windowsills facing the soft northern light.
Years of experimenting have rendered valuable experience. Unlike popular belief the flower doesn’t like a lot of water, only two ounces per week, less in winter. The orchid does not like to have her feet wet. The pots with orchids should be emptied.
There are more than 25,000 orchid species in existence. However, many are being destroyed by poaching and deforestation.
The orchid society promotes conservation and educational projects. It has grown into one of the largest and most active orchid societies in Florida.
The magical orchid can also be found at the Marie Selby gardens in Sarasota, Fl.
For more info go to: www.vaos.org
Marie Selby gardens www.selby.org
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