High octane groups.

orchidnickNovember 14, 2010

Since completion of both a warm and a cold greenhouse, I've immersed myself more than before in species. That is especially true for Bulbos and Dendrobiums on the warm side and the Pleurothallis alliance (cloud forest plants) on the cold side.

Over the last year I have joined 3 species groups:

The Southern California Species Society meets in my area, that one is a no-brainer.

In San Diego there is only one large orchid society with up to 700 - 800 members. They have a sub-group which only does species study and meets seperately every month. About 30 odd members attend, the meeting is Saturday morning. Since I have 4 kids living in San Diego and I always look for a reason to go down there, attending their meeting Sat morning and then hooking up with the kids for a BBQ or a beach brunch seemed a natural.

Then there is Northern California. I have a son and 2 grand-children in Redding and schlep up there at least once a month. The trip takes me through Sacramento. With a 2 hour detour, I was able to join the Pleurothallis Alliance which met this Saturday noon in Palo Alto and then continue on to Redding. A little far to go to a meeting (6 hour drive) but since I'm going there anyway to visit family, now it becomes a natural.

I am impressed with the depth of knowledge displayed by some of the people I meet at these 3 meetings. At our regular society we have 150 members, 80 or so active. A few of us, with hyper inflated egos, think we know a little more than the rest. That pales compared to the intense encyclopedic grasp of orchid taxonomy, name changes and other rare and obscure facts displayed by some of the members of these 3 species groups. To hear a Ron Parson discuss obscure name changes with Dr Stahl of Masd hybridizing fame is mind boggling. I sat there in all of my 70 year old glory and felt like a beginner.

Steven Hawkins once said that only about 20 people on earth truly understand e = mc2. Another 10,000 or so have a good grasp of the subject but do not truly grasp all the nuances. The rest of us think we know about it but that's as far as it goes. I guess with orchids it's the same, we seldom see the workings of the top echelons of the orchid universe. They come and give us talks at our society meetings but that is not the same as being in a room with some of the heavy weights of the orchid world and listening to their discussion.

A humbling but very interesting experience.


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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

Ron Parson is truly amazing in the depth of his knowledge about orchids and other plants too. A first rate photographer as well.

At the San Francisco Orchid Society, Ron is one of several exceptional orchidists. I would suppose San Diego is the same.

No matter what we think we know about orchids, there is always something to be learned about orchids or orchid habitat at orchid society meetings and people we meet there.

I recommend society membership for everyone interested in orchids.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 9:03AM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

Nick, what a terrific set-up you've got! Kids and grandkids and your greenhouses and the orchidists... in California, no less. (Every day, the N. CA coast calls to me, and I get out there as often as possible. I know it's different to live there.)

The MN OS has a guest speaker each month, and there are no exchanges among members re: orchid minutiae, plus we may well not have equivalent high octane folks.

It's a privilege to hear that level discussion, almost no matter the subject. Like a symphony. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 1:11PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

There are some 90 orchid societies affiliated with the NSW Orchid Society, plus seven ANOS groups in the state of NSW. (Australia)

Big, little, friendly, unfriendly, rich, poor, specific or general.

I know i've sort of said in the past that the species societies tend to be inhabited by PHD types with beards, but as i struggle to decipher the stuff written on last meeting benching cards,,,,i think it must be heaven to be the benching marshall at one of those societies....but then, more thinking, Doctors, medical and others... and the writing! We have four of them as members.

Must be an even greater concentration of orchid societies in states like Florida.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 2:32PM
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I consider myself fortunate that the kid's location puts me in line for these meetings. My son lives 9 hours north of me. To interrupt this trip for 5 hours to attend the Pleurothallis alliance meeting is a treat. San Diego is a similar situation although closer.

Phoenix is 10 hours east of us. If someone told me about a fantastic meeting in Phoenix, all he would get out of me is: "That's nice, tell me all about it after you go there." I'm not really a raving fanatic who would go to the end of the world for these things, they just mesh nicely with family related business.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 7:49PM
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I don't think you'll find the grass any greener. Those species and specialist groups are filled with hardened lumpers and splitters and bench labels are filled with every synonym that has and has yet to be published with no regard for whether Kew or the RHS/AOC agrees. Each year my native orchid society sells tubers and I have to publish the list of species that are on offer. As someone who holds very much a lay interest in orchids, I find that having to cross check manuscript names, find out whether an aff species that is being offered is the same as a newly published species that is also offered, deciding/guessing whether a species from a recently split complex is correctly ID'ed and checking if the gender is correct for new names I'm not familiar with is a headache to do once a year. I don't know if could do it once a month.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 1:43AM
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albertan(Florida (10))

I am a staunch advocate of joining as many orchid societies as are available to you, to truly enjoy this fascinating plant group. At my hey day, I belonged to 8 orchid societies--all short rides to our many Florida societies. I often heard the same speaker several times in a month, but learned something new each time, as different questions were presented to the speaker. Nomenclature is constantly changing, but even more interesting is changes for optimal growing as new products appear on the market. Old age and deteriorating health has reduced my participatimg, but I still am active in 6 societies, life member in three and board member in two. No dust collecting on me! And I am still learning new tricks of the trade.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 2:54AM
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albertan, I'm with you re: belonging to as many orchid societies as possible. I am currently a member of 3 in Md and DC. I intend to add a 4th in Va, as soon as the Commonwealth finishes ripping apart and reassembling the DC Beltway....all within a maximum of one hour's drive.

What's really appealling to me is that each Club is different each has its own charm!


    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 9:55PM
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A few days ago I gave a talk on 'Alternative methods of growing' to a Cymbidium society. From their plant display and their silent auction plants it's pretty obvious that their growing extends far beyond Cymbidiums. I brought them 45 Kawamoto cat hybrid clones for their plant table which was appreciated. There were numerous questions about the plants on the plant table and after the talk I gave a brief description of what they could find there. The vast majority of the members of this very active club were elderly orientals who busily churned around with all their usual activities, a very nice group.

What blew me away is that none of them had ever heard of Kawamoto Orchids of Hawaii. I grow Cymbidiums, but am not INTO Cymbidiums, yet I am still aware of the major Cymbidium growers in our corner of the world. These people seem to live in a parallel universe, it was really cute and entertaining. The other thing that was different was the prices they were willing to pay for plants. There was a Portia on the silent auction table with one new lead with flowers, starting bid: $41. It sold for $78. I bid on a nice catt hybrid, one growing lead which started at $12 and went for $29. Neither of these plants would have sold for anything near that in our society. They also bought raffle tickets like crazy, numerous had major rings of them around their necks.

'What's really appealling to me is that each Club is different each has its own charm!'

You're right on the mark, Stitz.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 9:12AM
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thank you, Nick and albertan.

I appreciate your support. I am certain that smaller Clubs also appreciate your support!!


    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 6:09PM
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