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Orchid Shows Are Truly Spectacular

Orchid quilt

The Tampa Bay Orchid Society will present their Orchid Sale and Show, "Rainforest Orchid Fantasy", March 7-9 at the Bayanihan Arts & Events Center, 14301 Nine Eagles Dr, in Tampa. Hours are Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday 9 to5, and Sunday 10 to 4. Admission of $4 will include a free momento and free parking.

You will step into an orchid heaven almost beyond imaging if you have never been to an orchid show before. There will be raffles, a free orchid doctor booth and workshops, and orchids, supplies, books, and refreshments for sale. There will also be a repotting shed where people who buy bare root orchids or bring in overcrowded orchids from home can have them repotted for a fee.

But dedicated orchid growers don't go to just one show. Many of them attended the World Orchid Conference and Show that was held in Miami, January 23-27.

On that Wednesday 20 members of the Tampa Bay Orchid Society and three guests loaded a bus. Heavy rain and bad traffic slowed them down, but they spent Thursday at the World Orchid Show and Friday at the Tamiami Orchid Festival not too far away.

"People (spectators, vendors, and exhibitors) came (to the World Orchid Show) from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Hawaii, Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia, Germany and the Phillippines. I saw orchid blooms that looked like someone had shot them up with steroids," wrote Jo Anne Hartzler in their newsletter. "The colors were nothing short of breathtaking, and with the color, many with fragrance."

Verna Dickey of Brandon made her reservation six months in advance so she could stay in the same hotel. The world show is only held every three years and in this country only every 15 years. She and Judy Cimafranca of Valrico and Yvette Sukhon of Apollo Beach, left early enough on the morning to get to the Sheraton Miami Mart by 10:30. Since there rooms weren't ready they went right into the show.

Flamingos in this orchid garden do not harm. The one with all red legs is a different kind from the ones with red knees and more colorful wings.

"It cost $20, but Oh how beautiful," Dickey says. "We walked around with our mouths open. The displays were fabulous. Some had bridges, some waterfalls, a volcano, stone cliffs, statues, and many beautiful orchids around them."

There were some 68 orchid vendors with people crowding around buying orchids to take home, and about as many non-orchid vendors selling everything related to orchids from silk scarves to jewelry, glassware, china, pictures, large metal sculptures.

Besides the millions of orchid flowers, there was another exhibition floor with photography, flower arrangements, art, cakes decorated with orchids, and quilts depicting orchids.

The next morning Verna Dickey and her friends happened to be walking around the display outside the building when a man was bringing in one of several flamingos to add their interest and color to the orchids. He had the body and legs wrapped in a blanket with the long neck and head hanging out. Apparently the flamingos do not harm to the orchids. The ones with all red legs are a different kind from the ones with just red knees and more colorful wings.

Then this group went to Fairchild Gardens for another day and just happened to get there for a Chocolate Festival. They stopped on the way to buy more orchids. Overall, it was a wonderful time.

The Tampa Show will not be as extensive, but for most of us that is an advantage. It will take much less travel, cost, and energy to see and enjoy it to the fullest, and you can still get your orchid questions answered, buy supplies if you want, and plants to start or enhance your own collection. But beware. Orchids are addictive, but in a very pleasant way.

If you've ever purchased an orchid corsage, you can imagine the value of this display depicting a tree of orchids.

This display has orchids blooming around this bridge.

Besides the Orchid Show, present or future orchid enthusiasts are always welcome when the Tampa Bay Orchid Society meets the 3rd Thursday of the month. The March 20th meeting will be the last for a time at the Seminole Garden Center as it will be closed for remodeling. Starting in April, they will meet at the Seminole United Methodist Church a few blocks north on Central Ave. in Tampa.