Orchid Festival Will Be Vision of Beauty

As botanical scents fill the air, hundreds will crowd the UCI Arboretum on Nov. 1 and 2 to celebrate the annual ‘Rainbow of Orchids’ Fall Orchid Festival, a tradition that has captured the attention of ‘green thumbs’ in Orange County for over six years.
According to Laura Lyons, nursery manager for the arboretum, the event will feature approximately 15 orchid vendors displaying a variety of different orchids that are not commonly found in retail stores.
‘Home Depot grows common, easy-to-grow orchids,’ Lyons said. ‘The show will go beyond that with displays of many uncommon, beautiful orchids.’
Vendors in attendance will include: Swiss Orchids from Alta Loma and Bangkok Botanical Gardens from Temecula.
All vendors grow their orchids on their own property, each specializing in different species.
For those who shy away from growing flowers, help is on the way. Orchid-growing experts will hold workshops at the show including one entitled ‘How to Re-bloom That Trader Joe’s Phalinopsis.’
For the arboretum employees and volunteers organizing this event was no easy task.
‘We started preparing for this event six months ago,’ Lyons said. ‘We did everything from contacting Sunset Magazine to sending out invitations to our vendors.’
The show mainly attracts orchid enthusiasts and also many from the Vietnamese community.
Ideally, Lyons said she would love to see students just come and enjoy over 10,000 species of a diverse orchid family. In the past, there hasn’t been a successful student turn-out, and Lyons finds that they are missing out on a unique opportunity.
‘Unfortunately we don’t get a lot of students attending,’ Lyons said. ‘We usually have faculty attending, but very few students.’
One message that the show will send out is that people shouldn’t be intimidated to grow these succulent flowers.
With careful attention, even the most inexperienced grower can fill his garden with orchids.
Ideal for novice growers, attendees will learn from the professionals exactly what it takes to grow and maintain these colorful species.
In ‘Orchid Talk,’ a grower will always remember ‘The Big Four’ of orchid groups which include: the Phalinopsis, also known as the ‘butterfly’ orchid, the Cattleya, called ‘cat’ for short, the Cymbididium and the Dendrobium, also called the ‘moth’ orchid.
Although one does not have to be an expert on orchids to attend the show, an appreciation for one of nature’s most diverse specie of flower will certainly make the trip worthwhile.
Chad Mason, an employee at the arboretum is one such fan of mother nature.
‘I love working outdoors and being able to watch the day pass,’ Mason said. ‘The intricacy and fragrance of these flowers are amazing. I even experienced the scent of a chocolate-smelling orchid!’
When asked about the involvement of students at the arboretum, Mason laughed and replied with a simple ‘yeah right.’
‘Students need to have a better appreciation of the world,’ Mason said. ‘How many students stop to watch the sunset instead of being annoyed that it blocks your view?’
The Orchid show is one way students can get involved either by volunteering during the show or by helping clean up afterwards.
Despite urban development surrounding the arboretum, employees and student staff still look forward to a new project, a ‘Maritime Succulent Shrub Habitat’ beginning with planting starting in December.
Active participants in this project will include a combination of the California’s Native Plant Societies local chapter, community volunteers and student volunteers mainly from the Department of Biological Sciences.
Students who are interested in working outdoors can have the opportunity to volunteer at the arboretum by helping out with shows or just working in the arboretum’s garden.
‘A Rainbow of Orchids’ is the last show for the arboretum until the rainy season ends in February. The next show the arboretum will feature, in February, will display a variety of South African orchids.
Admission to this event is $2 for adults, and children can attend for free.
For more information regarding the Orchid Festival, contact Laura Lyons at 824-5833.