Sacramento Orchid Society 71st Annual Show – 2018

Sacramento Orchid Society 71st Annual Show – 2018

By Gina Iwahashi – April 19, 2018

I love going to orchid shows!  Walking in the door of a large show (Okay, bigger than Reno show) is a little like walking into an adventure.

First, there are the banks and banks of orchids organized by species, size and color.  My artistic soul is titillated by the displays of Epidendrums in a rainbow of colors: deep red, light red, pink, yellow orange and white!  How do they come in so many colors?  Equally amusing are the people carefully buying one of each color to take home….  I am awestruck by a specimen size Dendrobium jenkinsii that appears to be a complete orb of yellow flowers.  And I giggle at the Bulbophyllum flowers with their long trailing fringes that wriggle in the breezes of passerby.  Some orchids are so weirdly contorted beyond what I recognize as “orchid” that I have to stop and contemplate which part of the plant is leaf, and which flower.

I wander the rows and take pictures of the colors and ruffles.  I sigh over the deep purple of an award winning Vanda, and glower when my camera (as usual) refuses to focus on a red Cattleya.  Some of the Oncidiums and Maxillarias are so strong smelling that I end up holding my breath as I try to zoom in on the flowers.  I contemplate how to fit all the trailing whiskers of the Phragmipedium into my camera frame and debate whether the flash is washing out the colors.  I am only one of dozens of photographers visiting each flower like an swarm of oversized bees.

Finally, I have taken pictures to my heart’s content and set out to visit the vendors’ area.  I spend the next breathless hour or so looking at all the little plants, each with a picture or sample of a larger plant.  Tiny miniatures probably best viewed with a magnifying glass.  Orchids advertised as growing outside!  Variegated and spotted leaves in little forests.  Brightly colored flowers abound.  Each shop has a specialization and hundreds of little plants, each with a neat price tag on the side.  But the plant vendor area is only one section of the sales area!  Another has supplies, books and even orchid jewelry!  I wander through them all, contemplating books and taste in jewelry, and gaping at the variety of potting substrates.  As I walk past one rack of rainbow colored fertilizer I wonder how one EVER figures out which one to use.  Evidently I am not the only one though: an entire group of buyers are reading labels and praying to their cell phones.

I want to purchase orchids, but the bewildering variety baffles my ability to categorize the plants.  What is a Zygopetalum?  And why do Dendrobiums come in so many sizes?  I drift in puzzled circles watching everyone else make purchases.  Eventually, I start categorizing the orchids into “potential purchase”, “too expensive”, “I can’t grow that” and “why would I want to grow that?” and begin to make selections.  Every selection is carefully considered, inspected, selected from among its brethren and added to my growing collection.  In the end, I have a little tray of small plants.  (Small plants, perfect for limited growing space!)

Done with my adventuring for the day, and now suddenly noticing that lunch has worn off, I get ready to leave.  Towards the exit is a steady stream of people leaving with plants and orchid growing materials.  I join the line and am soon outside.  As I walk away I am satisfied, but curious.  I wonder where some of my fellow attendees are going to put so many new plants?

When I get home I discover one of my plants is too tall to fit under my lights, sigh, and start shuffling my collection to fit in my new purchases….