Northwest Orchid Society Show and Sale Oct 5 & Oct 6

Stroll through the century old peacock window entrance to the Volunteer Park Conservatory and look to the right. There you will find the entrance to the Seasonal House, where the annual Northwest Orchid Society show was held on October 5 and 6. Orchids from Spokane, Mount Baker, Olympia, and Seattle were represented throughout the Seasonal House. Tables dressed in black linen tablecloths and signs scattered about reading ‘Not for Sale. Delicate flowers: Do not touch’ accentuate the room. What defines this extraordinary experience, however, is what sits on the decorative tables, complete with plastic pumpkins and scarecrow figurines. The orchids.

The Orchidaceae are a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant, commonly known as the orchid family. Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two largest families of flowering plants.

The orchids grown and fawned over in the northwest are often smaller, maybe more intricate and fragile looking. But the orchids at this show were uniquely exotic. Tutti Frutti fought hard for second place with its bountiful tan and purple blooms. But the prize winner was one you could’ve easily passed by. Winning for its difficulty in growing and producing blooms as it has, this orchid spanned across a square half foot of the table, and almost looked like a greener, less spikey Christmas Cactus. It had the tiniest white flowers blooming across its reaches. People could not help but ask why it had won, but it took the grand purple ribbon and was the best in show.

Behind the Conservatory, in the Sharon Priebe Education Wing, the orchid sale and repotting station were booming with orchid enthusiasts. Volunteers were ready and versed in sharing with visitors how to care for the exotic new additions to their homes. Humidity and watering were the main topics, especially because orchids prefer to be soaked in water and have their roots completely dry before being watered again. Most visitors were instructed to take their new orchids out of the pot once a week and water the roots directly, place back in the pot, and water again in about a week once the plant’s roots were relatively dry again. 

Bouncing between the showroom and the saleroom, one could not help but notice a peculiar smell entering and exiting the Seasonal House. Many show attendees were curious as to where the chocolatey-musky aroma was coming from. Bruce Ulness, a member of the Northwest Orchid Society and show volunteer, was happy to educate everyone on the pungent smell. Hung right outside the Seasonal House entryway flourished an orchid called Stanhopea. The yellowish, brown speckled flowers emitted the smell. 

The Conservatory hosts special exhibits like this in partnership with local horticulture groups several times per year. 

The Northwest Orchid Society meets on the first Monday of every month. Join the society and be apart of monthly meetings, raffles, free orchids, and the annual show at the Conservatory.

Reported by Robyn Wilbur, Marketing Volunteer

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